The Poetry Snapshot: strength is undefinable

Alpental, Washington © Neha Allathur Photography

I’ve been told to stay strong.
not cry
be the rock
pull it together
and I’ve succeeded.
I’ve successfully built a wall around me,
locked up my emotions, and lost the key.

All this time I thought someone else
would have a spare key.
I’ve been looking for myself in others.
But when has a locked door
stopped a prisoner from escaping.
Perhaps, I need to bring down these walls
with the same strength that built them.
Because there is nothing weak about
vulnerability.

 

This poem was inspired by a recent opportunity that allowed me to let my guard down and share a personal story to the public. After years of thinking that my strength came from internalizing my story, I realized that sharing it and allowing it to be a beacon of hope for others was my real display of strength. Strength is not limited to the constraints set by the media that showcases our lives filtered and perfected, and a culture of always putting on a happy face. Breaking through those constraints and embracing the authenticity of being vulnerable, accepting mistakes, and needing help is also a display of strength.  

Architecture and its Inspirations: from the Eyes of an Architecture Student

Hi Everyone!

I’m back again this week’s topic: Design Inspirations!

So, I’m curious, what things or what places would you guess we as aspiring designers get our ideas (please don’t say “your mind” or anything of the like)?

Take a moment, think THINK, give a guess?

Well, I’m going to give an educated guess about your guess, and say that you most likely said something along the lines of something on this known universe!! Like, famous precedents of the past, or perhaps a current proposal from a starchitect? Or even mundane, everyday objects? Experiences from our own memories? Or maybe even something that happened to us, almost as though in parallel to Newton being hit in the head by an apple?

So, this is gonna sound lame, but I’d consider all of the above as listed, as a partially right answer. I mean, we’re still humans, and we draw our ideas from live experiences from our human minds, so yes, all of the above could serve as points of inspiration, since they are all valid sources of Earthly experiences that can feed into our designs.

But, I say partially, because, all of those things are just the factors that serve more like kick-offs to further ideas into our designs. In other words, they’re like the lighter to firecrackers- they serve their single purpose to ignite the flame, and the rest of the party happens a few moments later, after having had time to absorb and chemically react to the ignition.

***

As a design student, we are often given a relatively detailed yet open-ended prompt to give us some context and general guidelines for the proposal that we are to make. Usually, I read it over a few times and look into any words I find confusingly used or I’m unfamiliar with, then try to interpret the prompt as concisely as I can in my own way, as I often find this to be the best way for me to understand what is expected of me and narrows down my scope of research for inspiration for my proposal!

In my current studio, we are doing a partnered project and our prompt is to make a facility to allow for the storage and display of artwork/artifacts primarily, but we are free to add any additional programs as we see fit.

My partner and I came to a compromise and agreed that our proposal is to make a facility that primarily functions as storage for artwork and artifacts of any medium and size (with just the limit that it must be able to fit within our site, and estimated square footage), and it would be able to accommodate for pop-up exhibitions through proactively interactive elements from the infrastructure of our facility.

From this, our first assignment (under this overarching project) is to (as best) clarify and demonstrate our first-pass ideas to actually build such a facility. We call this phase another research process, where we gather what other information we need, and create concept drawings (usually quick sketches) to communicate our thoughts in how we imagine as “answering” this “question” of how to make a storage facility that can also have interactive elements that change the building’s function from storage to pop-up exhibition. And these concept drawings then lead to concept models, also known as sketch models, which are usually pretty ratchet, and serve as a first attempt for us to literally get our hands on our ideas, and it shows us what does or doesn’t work, and usually also functions as yet another source of inspiration for more of ideas, which then lead to an ongoing cycle of creating other concept drawings and concept models.

Usually, what happens after this is, we present our ideas through talking with our studio professor about the idea, showing him our concept sketches along with that, showing him our concept model(s) and then explaining what elements of our ideas worked/didn’t work from those first-pass models. The professor would then usually reword the purpose of your proposal, to verify that we are on the same page of what ideas we are trying to portray. Then, he will critique what you’ve just showed to him, and when things can be done differently to be more effective, he will suggest his own ideas and even insight on how to make such amendments to our initial ideas. Sometimes, this can be pretty frustrating and end up in tears and torn up models and drawings, and you end up pursuing a whole new idea. Other times, we get the “okay” and continue to build upon it, revising drawings to make them ultra-clear to read, and building further models if necessary to clarify or experiment on a specific topic from those previous models.

***

So, my partner and I each decided to make our own study models over this weekend (since we agreed that we may each come up with interesting elements that we can then combine to create a perfectly partnered proposal afterwards).

I chose to tackle our proposal by brainstorming three potential methods for the storage infrastructure to become pop-up exhibitions. I asked myself, how can I create something that can assume both identities as storage and interactive exhibition spaces? Naturally, I went on Pinterest, and got hooked on images of origami til parametric architecture; essentially the idea of folding elements to create a new object and or space- I was envisioning elements that could be folded to save space, but also add elements of surprise to the space, especially if they could be reconfigured, or we play with different colors, textures, or  materials.

And I came up with these three ideas, initially concept drawings, where I attempted to sketch what I was imagining, and then going back, scrutinizing that chicken scratch of a sketch, and writing down possible logistics on what would help it to function, and what would keep it from functioning well. In the image below, you can see I attempted to give each idea a sort of summary title (which helps to keep me focused on what the sketch should be and what purpose and elements it should have).

Then, I proceeded to look upon my leftover materials, and made decisions on how the heck I would construct a rough model to display these ideas best.

This is my first model (see below), which corresponds to idea #3 from my sketchbook, and I chose to just use Bristol- kind of like a fancier cardstock. I chose this because I like the clean look of white paper, but also it is a relatively easy-to-cut material that’s cheap, and that was really all I needed because I was just looking for a way to convey my ideas in the most affordable and decent-looking way possible! It’s a bit gnarly, but it serves its purpose (and ironically, it’s sometimes the ugliest of models that inspire the critics most haha).

The second model (see image below), which is meant to display concept sketch idea #2, I decided to construct from a mix of thinly sliced4-ply museum board, a hot-pink post note I found chilling around my desk, masking tape, regular tape, some white sewing thread, and scraps of trace paper. I was shooting for different materials that could suggest different materialities, and it was also just me trying to get a handle on how to best create these forms while attempting to maintain overall stability of the standing model.

Lastly, the third model (see below), corresponds to idea #1 of my sketches, and I decided to use a mix of scrap pieces of 3-ply cardboard, 4-ply museum board, and some bristol scraps. I was simply aiming for stable materials that wouldn’t be too much of a pain to cut and scour for folds, and they would be able to stand alone when re-positioned or refolded during demonstrations.

As you may have noticed, I took as best photos as I could of these ratchet models, not just for my own enjoyment as a photographer, but also since they serve as documentation for future mentions in portfolios,  and I’ve learned the hard way that anything (drawings, sketches, mental mindset, etc) you bring to a critique can be drawn over or torn up for the interests of pursuing another idea off of your initial ideas!

***

I’m a little nervous and excited to present these to my partner, classmates, and professor in class tomorrow, but I’ve sort of gotten used to this feeling, as these kinds of assignments happen all the time for class.

But thanks again, to all of you, who took the time to read all the way to this exact line!! I hope you enjoyed my insights! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to respond to this post, and I’ll be so excited to read it! And if you’re interested in seeing more of my work, in and out of the studio, give me a follow on instagram: @themichiganarchitect!

Ciao 🙂

In The Eyes of an Architecture Student: An Intro

As an architecture student, I often get questions on what that’s like, or people just looking at me differently because I am in such a different discipline than them.

Well, to answer that question, I’ve always felt that it is natural for me and my classmates to gravitate towards similar visual interests, and see the world in different perspectives than people of other disciplines.

The image above is a meme I found online, that perfectly sums up what exactly this looks like, and what it feels like when I step back to see the big picture, when I amuse myself, thinking back to the feedback sessions during class and how it must look to outsiders with their first architecture school exposure, or a conversation with a non-architecture friend about my projects who are genuinely interested in understanding my ideas, but sometimes just need a bit more rephrasing or adjusting their thoughts so they are able to comprehend what exactly I am talking about.

Literally, the other day in class, we were discussing the significance of a picture of a glass of water resting on a clean, wooden table. I caught myself, making detailed observations or odd questions, like, the water depicted is so clean, further reinforcing the photographer’s purpose to demonstrate the cleanliness of the facility that produced that water. Or, the glass has only been filled with x amount of water, could it be a symbolic representation of the photographer’s ideological bias?

Others would likely see this as me being an over-thinker, or just some strange girl who has an interest in finding beauty or extra, made-up meaning in mundane objects, but I think this sort of logic of thinking is quite typical of architectural education, for instance, when instructors are having a conversation with us, about a designer’s intentions, or when we are asked to interpret someone else’s work, and we try to relate to their design, making it a valuable experience which is able to contribute to our own future design-work.

I definitely find myself more in-sync with my abstract interests whenever I photograph. I’d just visit a place, or an object, look at it from different points of view, then capture the images through my camera lenses, and it’s only afterwards, when I’m looking back at the images, that I realize these must look like such random shots to someone else, or sometimes even I question why I first found that view so intriguing, or how I even got the idea to shoot in such a perspective.

I have many other experiences to discuss, but I won’t write your eyes out, so I’ll discuss more in the following weeks, so stay tuned 🙂

And if you want to checkout my abstract photography, follow me on Instagram @themichiganarchitect !

Technology Influencing Art

Throughout history technology has influenced art in different ways.  It was used as a medium, like photography and movies. It is also used as an enhancer, like photoshop and video editing.  Technology is also featured in art, with paintings of phones and street lamps. As technology progresses, it becomes easier for all people to use it.  The biggest example for most millenials, including myself, used microsoft paint at one point to make their own art.

Computers have influenced art in a very profound way.  The internet is the biggest factor of this, but it is not the only thing you can do on a computer for art.  The biggest example that I can think of, and that I personally use is microsoft paint. I would spend hours on paint making circles and coloring them in different colors to make an abstract painting.  Another example of non-internet art is photoshop and photo editing. It is very common for people to take their photos and change them to black and white or putting another filter on it. It also used to be a fun past-time to photoshop celebrities into pictures and onto funny backgrounds.

The internet is a big proponent of making art more tangible for the public.  Now people can look up famous artists from the past and present. With a quick Google search one can find out the personal information and art styles of famous artists throughout time.  This means that art can now be seen in more places than just a museum. Schools take advantage of this when teaching students about art. Now they can pull up photos and video tours of large and expensive museums that they can not afford to take their students to.

Social media in particular allows people to be more creative themselves.  It creates a forum for people to express themselves by posting their art online.  Whether that be art that they did not create using technology, like drawings, or art created by technology, like photos.  Social media also allows people to learn how to create art. The biggest example of this is Pinterest, where there are thousands of DIY art projects for whatever you could possibly need.  Youtube also has a lot of DIY content for people to learn whatever they need. I personally use Pinterest on a regular basis for DIY ideas and art projects.

Overall technology, computers specifically, have made art more accessible to the public.  This has helped make people more creative and learn more about art technique and art history.  The internet pushes people to explore their creative sides and to try new things that they never thought they could do before.

Rainy Days:From Photos to Life

Life in Michigan involves various climate changes. It maybe sunny one day and drizzling the next, yet there is always a part of me that enjoys the beauty of the rainy days that come upon us. Mostly from the comfort of my room, I find looking out as the rain pours, the clouds fill the sky, and the darkness takes over the day, a natural beauty has taken over.

I came across photographs of Christophe Jacrot’s work, of rainy days in Paris (can you imagine that being such a bad day?), Tokyo, and Hong-Kong, and couldn’t help but feel connected to the intrigue of nature as a factor of art. The images showcased such perspective of how different rainy days in different countries created different moods and tones for its inhabitants. One photo, Alcootest, showcases a contorted view of a building as a woman walking on a late rainy-day passes it, and another, Huile 5, captures a neon-ed shot of a Hong-Kong city, as the rain softens and lengthens it’s structure.

 70x105 ed.8 / 90x135 ed.6

Jacrot/Alcootest.

Jacrot’s photographs give such meaning to the complex time that comes from the rainy season. The power of his images being focused solely on seasonal changes in humanity creates a definitive feeling about how interaction with nature is such an intrinsic emotional connection that comes with a new seasonal change.

80x120 cm ed. 16 / 90x135 cm ed. 12

Jacrot/Huile 5.

If anything,  the rainy days to come, or the most likely snowy days, are opportunities for inspirational and artistic outlets. From seeing the misty silence that captures a town after a long rainfall, to the unified feeling you get from walking next to people who all feel dominated by the pelts of the cold day, there’s something to be inspired by from the nature and world around us.

Check out some of Christophe Jacrot’s Work Here!

A Little Nostalgia

With a new year beginning, feelings of nostalgia are bound to arise in place of past events, people, and art. As the years go by we are graced with new and upcoming artists and artwork that brings about change within how we view certain aspects of life and ourselves. With the start of a new year, it becomes a question of what will be created or discovered this year, that will completely trump anything we’ve ever seen before? What will challenge our views or enlighten our minds? Yet, there will always be a deep appreciation for what art has done to get us where we are today.

Take these photo sets for example:

School Break (Detroit)

Photo Credit: BoredPanda.com

A New York Minute

batmanpride.tumblr.comMacauley Culkin in Home Alone 2: Lost in New YorkTom Hanks and Meg Ryan in You've Got MailPatrick Swayze and Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost

Photo Credit: PandaWhale.com

I loved these photographs because they elicit feelings of nostalgia for the past and greater times, especially when it comes the time for new beginnings. What I also loved was the artistic quality of them and coupling two eras of moments that are completely different from each other.

In art there should always be reverence for artistic history, and what got us to where we are today, but let’s also keep our minds open to whatever creativity can bring us in the future.