After 10 weeks--that went by so quickly it felt more like 10 days--we had to say goodbye to five students in the New York Arts Program. Since Kalamazoo students are on trimesters instead of semesters, they returned home at the end of March for a week off before their next term began. But our sadness was made a little sweeter by the fabulous final projects they left behind.
Jay, who interned at a dance studio, combined forces with Sage and Cianna who photographed and took video of two dances that Jay choreographed. The photographs and video will be part of Sage and Cianna's final projects, as well as Jay's application to attend the dance studio where she interned as a student this summer.
Hannah interned for an artist in the artist's studio. For her final project, she wanted to explore mushrooms alongside her polish heritage. Mushrooms are used in many polish dishes and food plays an important role in the culture, which values hospitality and demands that any guest be offered food and that the guest should eat it. At our farewell reception, Hannah brought food as well as prints she created by leaving mushrooms on a piece of paper for their spores to create a design and then imposing another traditional polish design on top of it.
The remaining three students were poets: Mansi, Kayla, and Uyên. Since April is National Poetry Month, sharing their work at the end of this post seems a fitting way to kick it off. For more poetry, you can read Mansi's entire chatbook entitled No Names But Connection here and visit Uyên's poetry blog here.
written by Uyên
Here’s a story about what comes after. There are four characters, whom I’ll call by the names of body parts. Hand doesn’t know how to cut off her fingernails. There was a time when Foot stepped on ink. Knee was born with wrinkles. And Ear only speaks echoes.
When I say what comes after, I don’t mean a beginning to an end. What I’m saying is the continuity of a continuation, an interlude of four beginnings with no ends, and a temporary end of the continuity. That being said, most of the time these body parts don’t belong in the same timeline.
Nobody asks Foot whether he tried washing out the ink after. He’s the outdoorsy type, constantly moving, body has laid down on sponges, limestone and seasalt. He loves stargazing. He gets this feeling when his back lays flat on cement, limbs scratching themselves, and the sky is as black as it is white. Like he can almost admit what is not easy and what isn’t over.
Have I told you about the time Knee hoped Ear would lean towards the sound of her bones cracking? It’s long, long ago though, like a once-upon-a-time thing, but still now whenever it rains she brings herself upward til she reaches his lobes. Ear has never had any piercings. His father does, though, maybe that’s why he doesn’t. Hates the idea of anyone – silver or iron - digging inside his flesh, like he needs that to feel beautiful. I forgot to tell you about Knee’s bones. Time after time they’ve been drowned, but somehow the muscles can still bend. Ear doesn’t catch her bones’ uttering. They have been listening to the rain together for a while now.
I’m not sure what to say about Hand. How does one acknowledge or dismiss an ache before it’s coming? She doesn’t shred herself with her nails, but occasionally bites them. She can’t tell if they’re parts of her.
What comes after four missing body parts of different bodies?
I see them tracing their skin in and out now, looking for freckles.
written by Mansi
The eye contact I made with at 34th Street and 6th Avenue
with a stranger
felt like it would ignite
I wish I could write more about it.
But there were no words.
Just eye contact.
Just that story.
The lady who sits next to me in the office
asks me how I'm liking New York.
I tell her the energy of the people
pushes me to do things--
"Here, it looks like everyone is conquering the world
and I can't just sit and watch them conquer."
She pauses and replies,
"I wish I could look at New York the way I did
when I came here
seven years back.
Now it's just shit ton of people."
written by Kayla
Room with still life
2006, Oil on Canvas
GIFT OF THE ARTIST
The woman in the wheelchair gazes
beyond a small, square window
to a garden. Crosshatched ferns and
flora hover in the wind, just out of reach.
The artist tilts her head to the side
and the shadows look disproportionate.
She tilts her head back and they look
better. She thinks, I'm being unreaonable.
The flowers on the bedside table
lean into the ray of sun she paints.
Once upon a time, the artist listened
to Kehlani's entire discography
and each beat leapt onto her canvas.
Once upon a time, the old woman
collected Polaroids. Or at least, she
imagined she did.
Two friends visited the artists exhibition
last week. They walked together, shoulder
to shoulder, moving forward, forward.
It was the artist's penultimate piece,
but she didn't know that at the time,