Destruction is beautiful. Anyone who’s watched the buildings collapse in the 1982 film Koyaanisqatsi ought to know. Destruction is beautifully hideous…and hideously beautiful.
As the final project for my 3D design class, each of us built 36” towers using 200 wooden coffee stirs. For an A, our towers had to support 33 phone books.
But the main point of it all was watching the towers get crushed.
My tower looked like this:
And after crushing it with 46 phone books, it looks like this:
It shattered right in the middle, a lesson for my future projects. We caught another tower falling:
The large white weights represented 10 and 8 books so we could avoid stacking books to the ceiling.
But this death was my favorite:
It spiraled slowly and meticulously.
The sunlight shimmering through my bedroom window at dusk looks promising. Hopefully this summer won’t be as unprecedentedly rainy and cold as spring was.
Last Friday, our school held its annual International Festival, run by the International Club, whose president will leave when he graduates in a couple weeks.
This is the first time I attended the festival. But in my opinion, it’s better than our annual talent show. People at our school come from all over. We’ve got first- and second-generation German, Italian, Finnish, Greek, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Ghanian, Nigerian, Indonesian, Mexican, and Pacific Islander students, to mention a few.
Our school is small and we are humble. The International Festival took place at the New Garden Friends Meeting Friendship Hall this year. Of course there was food. That may have been the best part. Especially the baklava.
The festival began with a speech by co-founders of the Children of Vietnam organization, for which we raised more than $500! Please check out the organization’s website: http://www.childrenofvietnam.org/
Performances included Irish fiddling, singing, Indian dancing, and, inevitably, K-pop. But my favorite was the Bollywood Mix.
The fashion show was the best part (besides the food). People came in all kinds of attire from their (or their parents’) home countries; Indian outfits were the most popular, as at least ten of my friends came dressed in Indian wear ranging from casual to formal.
Unfortunately I don’t have pictures from the fashion show. But the point is, we had loads of fun! I’m proud to belong to a school which flaunts its international-ness. ;)
In Washington, DC:
Photo credit: my dad
We who have the opportunity to eat three square meals a day and to sleep under a warm roof will never understand the lives of the homeless unless we involuntarily fall under similar circumstances.
Every Tuesday, colleagues at Guilford College and I gather fresh leftovers from the college’s cafeteria, re-warm them in ovens in small dorm kitchens, box them, and take them out into Greensboro.
During the fall and winter months, we shiver on delivery. Bundled up and just gotten out of our warm cars, some of us visibly await the moment we can jump back in the cars. Others, like Joe, do not complain and earnestly hand the Greensboro folks their meals. They remark on how delicious our meals taste in comparison to those they receive at local churches. I am surprised: all we did was re-warm food condemned to be wasted.
Every human on this earth has the right to be fed. As long as we walk and breathe, we should all possess equal opportunity to food and shelter. Those of us who don’t see this opportunity seek it daily. But they do not receive it.
The least we students can do is make whatever small effort we can to see that these people get fed. The Community Kitchens Club at Guilford College feeds the hungry only once or twice a week, a single meal, but this is what we can do to combat the injustices done to the needy.
I believe anyone who cares should take action for what they stand for. Community Kitchens will not solve world hunger. But for one night, a few dozen Greensboro residents’ stomachs are filled.
Thanks to Helen and Chelsey for conceiving the project.
Documentary by Emily, a UNC Greensboro student.
Two weeks ago, I visited Elsewhere.
In 1937, a Greensboro couple, Sylvia and Joe, started a business selling surplus Depression-era furniture. In 1939 they moved to the 3-story location known today as Elsewhere. Following World War II, they transformed their business into an army surplus store.
When Joe suddenly died in 1955, Sylvia’s surplus business ran downhill. To keep making money, she began buying bits of fabric and ribbon from local mills. Over time, she came to collect and sell a much wider variety of objects, and her store filled with toys, books, tools, and odd collectibles, through which a customer could navigate only by a small path.
Sylvia valued every piece of her store such that buying an item at a reasonable price proved challenging for the naïve customer. At her death in 1997, Sylvia left behind a hoard.
No one knew what to do with it.
But in 2003, when Sylvia’s grandson George and his friends took a visit to the former thrift store, its contents exploded back to life. They re-opened the store and named it “Elsewhere,” declaring “Nothing for sale!” and inviting artists from all over the world to come and re-arrange the items within.
One might enter the store through its front door, or through its accordion-fold storefront window, which remains open on sunny days and holds swings. Upon entering, the visitor is taken aback by the piles and piles of seemingly random and apparently old objects arranged on shelves labeled “Museum of Natural History.” Elsewhere itself is known as a living museum, but unlike other museums, visitors to Elsewhere are allowed to touch, play with, alter, and re-arrange its items.
Beyond the front counter sits a “Time Machine,” a tower built from wood and old TV and radio pieces. Behind that is a cart, each of whose drawers holds its own unique collection of toys and knick-knacks, which Elsewhere managers sometimes pull around Greensboro and even around the country.
The wall to the left of the cart holds shelves of games. Through these shelves, a semi-circle shaped cross-section has been cut to make way for messages sent through a hole drilled in the ceiling directly above, and in the ceiling directly above that one.
The back of the store’s main room houses a kitchen. Several days a week, Elsewhere’s houspitality curator Emily and others cook vegetarian meals, which, according to the artists and members who eat them, are “seriously good.” In the alley behind this room is a compost pile, a water barrel, some bicycles, and a “vertical garden” grown in pots on a piece of old scaffolding. The tiny lot behind Elsewhere is empty. Managers hope that one day artists can acquire and use it for an urban farm.
The second room of the first floor houses fabric and books galore. One wall is coated from top to bottom with shelves of Sylvia’s fabric collection; the other half of the room holds a toy carousel, a “castle” on which one can rest or read and under which one can have one’s handwriting analyzed, a collection of musical instruments played by throwing a bouncy ball at them, and, of course, books. One looks up and finds thousands of bits of clothes dangling from the ceiling in an elegant pattern. A renowned group of Latin American artists accomplished this. The side of this room facing the street is undergoing renovations: soon, it will house Elsewhere’s very own radio station, which visitors can host.
The 2nd floor, formerly a boarding house, contains additional projects as well as the studios of resident artists. My favorite is a room full of ribbon, onto which one can just toss oneself and land more comfortably than onto any bed. Another room I admire, the name of which I’ve already forgotten, is a tiny nook through a tiny doorway holding a swing made from a chair. One can spend hours in luxurious solitude here.
The 3rd floor, formerly the store’s warehouse, seems haunted. Its front room, whose windows are boarded up, is a grim-looking whiskey bar. Dark and lonely, wallpaper purposely left to decay, artists and members use this room to socialize. On one of its tables sits a ghost detector, the kind one sees on TV shows about hauntings.
The back room of the 3rd floor stores things. It is also surrounded by multitudinous small rooms which some believe may have housed prostitutes. These rooms now hold quaint (and frankly creepy) arrangements of delicate objects such as dishes and perfumes. Another room holds the “toynado”: hundreds of baby doll parts all glued together and attached to the ceiling and floor in a disturbingly well-crafted tornado shape.
Elsewhere is a playground for adults, a living museum, and a home for the many artists who live, eat, drink, and breathe Elsewhere for six weeks at a time. It reminds me of my bedroom, only exaggerated: So many odd and invaluable items all important enough to the owner not to give or throw away, and all arranged just to the owner’s taste. In this case, Elsewhere is now owned by its artists and visitors.
Somehow I felt at home the mere hour I spent at Elsewhere. I felt a personal connection despite its history being Sylvia’s and not mine. Elsewhere is not only a playhouse; it is a study of how one’s personal belongings and one’s personal environment reflects one’s personality. It provides evidence that art does not only take place when created deliberately from “scratch”, but occurs subconsciously through one’s arrangement of one’s home or workplace. Art is three-dimensional and art is everywhere.
Here is a short video documentary about Elsewhere:
I didn’t take any pictures when I visited, so I hope that provides some visual reference.
Visit Elsewhere’s website: http://www.goelsewhere.org/
For 2 years and counting, ECG has run a magazine titled “overload”. It is an excellent publication! Big thumbs-up to my friend Haejin, who started the publication in late 2010. Since then, it has quite grown.