As I sit here in my big comfortable computer chair, I ponder on numerous subjects. I am thinking about the trip, my family, and my future. I am having one of those moments of solitude. Tomorrow will be exactly a week since we departed from New York. I sincerely miss not only the city, but as Courtney referred to us, my family.
It is quite difficult yet obvious how to conclude the trip. It is almost as if I do not want to because I feel like once I publish this, I am officially home. It is one thing to simply be in the area, but it is another to accept the fact that we are no longer together in New York, waiting for another adventure.
I never want to forget the experiences and family who made this journey so unique and fulfilling. You do not realize how big of an impact everyone makes until a few days later when you remember each and every personality and memory. I am extremely excited to have documented this so far through a blog because our minds simply do no justice to written words.
As depressing and sad as I would have liked to be, it seems as though I let those emotions out in the last few blog posts. I want to focus on the good times and never forget the excitable experiences each of us have had. I am exceptionally fortunate to have met the individuals I met during the journey. I loved the get togethers and simple family bonds. One of the greatest moments was walking into Jenna, Marina, Keeyoung, and Lindsay’s room and dragging them out and down to mine. Brittany and Cami were already in there. I had 4 take out boxes of food saved from the dining hall because I did not use all of my meals. We had a miniature party and we ate tons of delicious cookies.
As I pondered on these small but meaningful memories, I can’t help but thank Courtney and Rylan for serving as such amazing professors. I really cannot thank them enough for the tremendous experience I undertook. So, to close on a high note, I will forever LOVE New York and my New York family!
P.S. I am a lucky man, if you know what I mean. I was fortunate enough to meet some exceptionally beautiful people. This first week back is a new beginning for a hopeful and bright future 🙂
It is day two of our return from the big apple. I still cannot believe how quickly time flew by.
I have been thinking about my first day. I have even thought about my first blog post, my first written record of my city adventure. I remember how I struggled with New York Universities wifi, annoyed by the fact that not only I could complete my work, but I could not post images on Facebook. I finally connected and became tremendously excited. However, even though I have written several posts over the last three weeks, I failed to mention something that has developed in my mind since the beginning.
I began the trip with everyone believing I was an English major because I was taking both the ITDS class (which my fellow peers thought was English) and the photography class. All of the students who joined me on the trip assumed my major to be English. They soon found out I am an Exercise Science major and an Art minor.
Throughout the journey I began to think about my “why” for Exercise Science as a major. I compiled a list of reasons in my head.
• I want to become a Physical Therapist.
• Physical Therapy is a stable career choice.
• There is a high calling for individuals in the medical field.
• I enjoy helping and serving others while making their day.
• Stable income.
I believe these reasons are genuine and honest. I remember breaking my ankle in 10th grade. I was at a friend’s birthday party and landed wrong after trying to catch a football. I went through surgery and months later began my venture into physical therapy. After my first visit I could not wait to go back. The people there were amazing and I could see the progress in my ankle after every visit. I went from a weird feeling of never being able to play sports or participate in active activities again, to running cross country and playing soccer the next semester.
My inspiration grew and I dove into this new found career headfirst.
I had second thoughts about my major when I found decided on an Art minor. I became (and still am) more excited about my art and photography classes than any other class.
Throughout the trip I have really thought about whether to change my major to art or not. I love being creative and photography is my greatest passion. I believe what is holding me back is the risk of taking the leap into something unknown. However, sometimes, it is the leap of faith that provides the greatest success.
Weegee’s Coney Island in 1938.
Often this trip is about making connections between my experiences. In that way, I feel like I’m writing about literature, analyzing the confluences of what I see. Last week, we visited the International Center of Photography, a small peaceful space that was hosting a show by Weegee. I don’t think I’d ever heard of Weegee before, but I was instantly taken by his journalistic detective-style photos of New York City crime in the 1930s and 1940s. Murder was his business, and in his black-and-white images of violently brutalized people, massive fires, and crime’s innocent by-standers, he beautifully portrayed the sometimes-isolated feeling in the city.
But Weegee had another favorite subject for his photography: Coney Island. In his Coney Island photographs—as the exhibit argued—Weegee captured a different side of New York: the playful spontaneous side of New Yorkers crowding on a beach for a day away from murder and crime. I was struck by the juxtaposition of these images: the crowds witnessing a murder and the crowds thronged together in play.
So when I visited Coney Island for the Mermaid Parade on Saturday, Weegee was foremost in my mind. Even though the beach community is more commercialized and consumerized today, if Weegee were around, he’d still capture a similar spirit in the people. Although the crowd was thick (I mean thick), somehow I didn’t feel crowded like I sometimes do in New York City. There was an air of revelry as mermaids and mermen made their way up the central street aside the undersea floats. On the beach, families lounged together while their children played in the water and built various sand statues. There were absolutely no pretenses there: it was carnivalesque without the dark side. I listened to the mermaid bands parading up the street; I shrieked atop the Wonder Wheel (swinging car!); I watched one of our students brave the cold ocean waters; I sat on a dirty curb and devoured a Nathan’s hotdog.
On the way home on the subway, our train was suddenly stopped and we were told to evacuate. As we pushed past the platform and up the stairs, six to eight police cars swarmed the station and rushed down to the train. Although we were quickly returned to a new train (without ever learning what exactly had caused the sudden evacuation), I thought of Weegee’s two photographic subjects. My day of revelry at Coney Island ended with a return to the city crimescape—perhaps a metaphor for the differences in attitude between the World’s Playground and the City that Never Sleeps, which Weegee captured so well.
My Coney Island 2012.
Museums. We’ve already been to a few of them, and we’ll keep going for the next two weeks. While clearly the goal in a museum is to see the art and/or history, I’ve found myself thinking about what else a museum means—what is its purpose? I’ve also discussed this with colleagues lately—how does a museum capture not only art but also the memory and history of people, places, eras? Why do people insist on taking photographs in museums to capture their memories? (Strange questions to ask when I’m writing and posting photos as part of an “arts” trip.)
Still, if I return to Auden and my earlier questions about a moral and modern American society, how do museums function in this society? Are they useful because they offer the public a way-in to “high” art? Is spending two-four hours on a whirlwind tour of a 6 -floor museum really a “way-in”? Are we just consuming art to say we did so—that we had that experience? And, anyway, as Auden and the others at February House were asking, what is the function of art?
I’m sure I can’t answer these questions, but I do know that there is something artificial about the museum experience. For a minute or two—as throngs of camera-snapping visitors scuttle by and around me—I almost forget that I’m viewing something incredible. I’m certainly in favor of bringing art to the people because I detest most high/low cultural divides (except maybe in literature and food, and even then I want all folks to experience all the stuff I know is better); generally these divides are created to shut people out—maybe even shut people out of a means to power. While I want art brought to the masses, I also don’t want it to become meaningless like the mass-produced prints and posters I see in the shops and on the street fronts. Just because we’re selling something, does it have to be meaningless?
But maybe here’s the American moral clause: any little anything can be art here in America, even if it’s for sale, even if it’s not in a museum. As an individual, I get to choose what I view as art. So, if a mass-produced poster of a masterpiece bought at an overcrowded museum makes me happy, so be it. I’m sure I’ve created a unique meaning from that poster and that experience. Right?
Will sitting on that clam shell really increase your experience?