CUNY Macaulay Honors College at Baruch College/Professor Bernstein
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Category — Site Authors

Who He Was: A Choice (Photographic Addendum)

The following photos are provided as supplements to the original essay & audio found here.


December 18, 2010   1 Comment


It seems that some of the biggest changes in history have started with a single step. We find ourselves surrounded by reminders of past uprisings, small events with such large circumstances–we hear so much of Susan B. Anthony and Rosa Parks, but why do we hear nothing of Sara Krulwich?

Her efforts seem to be one of the main stepping stones towards equality in the world of photography. Just a few words of hers, despite the chagrin of her peers, had the power to change the way that people viewed photography–and who was able to be behind the camera. Tags that stated the prohibition of her presence on the football field meant little to her–what was a piece of paper doing in between her and her goals  anyway, besides hiding the fears of years so blissfully misinformed? She disregarded the rules that seemed so set in stone by those deemed “in control,” during a time that seemed built of equally irrevocable guidelines–but it did nothing but the fires of her trend-setting ways.

Ms. Krulwich told us of her struggles on and off the field, and it brought to mind thoughts of the struggle many of us often face everyday. She fought for her independence, for her ability to actively participate in the art that she loved–what do we fight for? Why is it that we are becoming known in this day and age as the group of Americans that are so willing to allow government and the norms of society to walk all over our ideas, and desires for the future?

While listening to Sara Krulwich, I realized that the answer lies not in the group–not its power, not its faults–but in the individual. The answer lies in the individual ability to stand up for one’s beliefs, an action that often seems to eventually lead to the changing of the world. Look at Sara Krulwich. Look at what she’s done.

How different are we?

December 15, 2010   1 Comment

Pedestrian Pressure

My philosophy when it comes to walking around the city (or anywhere else for that matter) is that if you wait for the green “walk” light every time, you’ll never get anywhere. This mentality has made me a joke among friends who all seem convinced that I wait for traffic before crossing the street. Just as staying in your room all day has come to be known as “Pulling a Renee” amongst mutual friends, “Pulling a Liz” seems to have come to refer to taking a kamikaze stumble of sorts across a busy avenue.

As I’ve grown older and more reckless in my street-crossing I’ve come to recognize an amusing pattern among my fellow pedestrians. Walkers of any gender and age feel obligated to cross the street if someone else begins to. Level of traffic, time of day and location are irrelevant. If I begin to inch forward, so do a handful of people opposite and behind me. Jaywalking is the ultimate form of peer pressure.

I am a master of clumsily successful illicit street crossing, but not everyone is as vigilant and coordinated when it comes to safely making it to the other side. In this sense I sometimes feel guilty crossing the street when I’m not supposed to. This is because I’ve come to notice that when one person jaywalks, all others around said person feel obliged to do so as well. I will boldly step forward, preparing to weave through a line of slowly moving vehicles and others nearby will begin inching forward. It is as though they are unsure of what to do, the red hand is up but the crazy girl is walking anyway.

Jaywalking can be dangerous and in general is pretty juvenile. Maybe I’ll stop eventually but for now it’s still a thrill.

December 14, 2010   2 Comments

A Little Bit of Home

It’s amazing how taking a wrong turn can lead you to just the right place.

I was walking back from class, and I decided to take a detour; I was becoming sick of my 3rd Avenue routine. So, instead of turning left while walking crosstown, I kept going–and I saw some of the most wonderful things. I ended up in Greenwich Village, adorned with Christmas lights and infused with the wafting scent of pine. So of course, instead of heading to the dorms, I kept going away from them–and I found myself becoming even more immersed in the beauty of the area. It amazed me that it took me so many months to get to the West Side of the City, especially when this was what was waiting for me! Had I known, Broadway wouldn’t have been my exploration boundary.

I looked at my phone sadly, noticing that it was getting late, and started to turn South towards the dorm and the inevitable studying of the books within it–but then the best surprise of the night was upon me. I had never seen Washington Square before, and here it was, with a huge Christmas tree, glowing with the light of what seemed to be endless strands of decorations.

The whole night reminded me of home.

It all reminded me of the endless pine trees surrounding my dead-end street, of the countless decorations that my parents put up every year, of the lone lamppost in front of my house, the last house on the block, that always looks just a little magical when it snows.

Still, even though I am miles and days away from my small town of Manorville where the Island’s forks split, I was able to find a little bit of home in this grand city that now has an even larger part of my heart.

December 14, 2010   1 Comment

Sara Krulwich

The Michigan Daily – Jay Cassidy

The Struggle. Sara Krulwich is more than just a simple photographer; she is a daredevil, a pioneer. As she stands on the soft turf grass of “The Big House,” the nickname of University of Michigan’s football stadium, she had just hurdled a social boundary, a standard that was set by a male-dominated society. Ms. Krulwich recognized that the stadium’s field prohibited access to women, children, and dogs. But she understood that she had a job to finish, a mission to complete. As a member of the photo department of The Michigan Daily, she had to capture and document her assignment. Ignoring the resounding protests from the mass of fans, Ms. Krulwich was able to accomplish a feat no other woman has ever been able to accomplish. She made her mark on history, and her deed for women everywhere will echo in all of eternity.

The truth. Sara Krulwich gave us an insight into her successful career as a photographer. The most important tool at her disposal wasn’t the megapixels of her camera, but rather something she developed over time, confidence. Unlike other lecturers, she presented herself as nothing more than a human being who has experienced a whole lot in her life. In her humble manner, she spoke about being confident in the face of uncertain, and often daring moments. One key lesson that I have learned from her time speaking is that don’t be afraid to get close to someone, and then taking his or her photograph. It is outrageous, and sometimes extraordinary, measures like that, which separate an amateur photographer from a well-distinguished one.

The lesson. Throughout her time speaking to us about her life and photography, she taught me that comfort is the enemy of success. Sara Krulwich defined: a hard-working, dedicated, persistent individual who is willing, and able, to confidently surmount the overwhelming obstacles that life presents. Lesson well learned.

December 14, 2010   No Comments

The Bitter Sea

The elements of Charles Li’s The Bitter Sea gave me a different perspective on daily life in a Chinese household. Growing up Chinese, I have had a different experience with filial piety in the sense that my parents, especially my father, cared more about me emotionally and cared for my successes academically. I do however sympathize with Li’s relationship with his father, as this relationship ended up defining his life. I feel that The Bitter Sea is a highly compelling story of a young man’s life facing and experiencing all sorts of extremes. He lived a life of luxury in his early years, and had everything taken from him when he moved to the slums of Nanjing. This dramatic shift in conditions should break a man, but for Charles Li, it was actually a transition that shaped part of his character.

One major theme is abandonment. Throughout his young life, he had a Nai Ma, or milk mother, who took good care of him and truly loved him. Then suddenly she was taken away from him. This abandonment by the Nai Ma put Charles Li into a deep depression as he wondered why she was taken away. Later on, Li had a best friend, Da Ge, who he did everything with until one day he just left. This provided more sorrow and loneliness as he questioned the unfortunate events that happened to him.

December 14, 2010   No Comments

Renee Cho Yeon Kim/ New York, Stop.


As a New Yorker, my typical day starts with an obnoxiously loud alarm. I wave my heavy arms to spot and turn it off without an attempt to open my eyes. I get out of my bed, take a quick shower, and finally check the time. I realize that I have a little more time to fetch a bagel from a café nearby my school. My mind gets busy. I dress myself up in whatever comes into my mind from the closet. I put on my shoes and stuff everything I see on the desk into my school bag. During those thirty minutes, I never stop to look back or think what I am doing. Officially, my unstoppable day as a New Yorker begins as I am merged into the street filled with other hundreds of New Yorkers who open their days just like I do.

For some reason, we, the New Yorkers, are living a day that is broken down into seconds. We do not hesitate to cross the street illegally, even in front of the cops who are staring at us, if we can save five more seconds of our day. Just to save five seconds to be in class earlier, ten more seconds to meet my friends, and thirty more seconds to get out early from school, or to do whatever else, I run all day long. Obviously, I’m not alone in following this draining pattern of life. New Yorkers do not bother themselves to see each other on the street and make eye contact. They do not have enough time to say “Hello” or “Good morning” to some strangers on the street with a smile. Simply, we do not stop.

When I first was assigned to do the Street photography project from IDC class, I wanted to find something philosophical through my camera lens. For a long time, that moment of inspiration did not come to me. One day, I was waiting for a street sign to change at Times Square. My mind went entirely blank from daydreaming, and I did not realize that the sign has changed. When I finally retrieved my consciousness, I was in the middle of a giant flow of New Yorkers. Suddenly, this odd feeling touched my mind.  Why do we never pause and see what other people are doing? Why are we always so busy and full of ourselves? I decided to capture the moments when New Yorkers are “forced” to stop in their days. I went around the city capturing people waiting for their buses at the bus stops or for crossing signs to change, and empty stores filled with darkness. Also, I took photos of New Yorkers busying themselves to surpass others.

In order to depict the “crazy business” of the city life, I decided to go to take photos at Times Square. It was an excellent choice, since that was the busiest and the most crowded place in Manhattan. I didn’t have any trouble spotting interesting subjects for my photography. However, the biggest challenge came from the technical limitation of my camera. I used a plain digital camera, which automatically did the focusing for me. Oftentimes, it wouldn’t let me adjust the focus for the angle that I wanted. It automatically cleared out the parts that I wanted it to make blurry. Otherwise, I played around with the shutter speed and light exposure values to have a dreamy, yet dynamic atmosphere in my photos. I decided to take photos at night so that I could play around with the light. I was generally satisfied with the photos, but some of the color schemes turned out to be little darker than what I expected.

The most interesting part of my project was that I was able to live different from the crowd for those short moments. I stopped when everyone moved around. I moved when everyone stopped. Through my lens, I could find hidden meanings of so many little things that we disregard each day. It was the significance of recovering our composure in our busy lives. In order to keep ourselves conscious of changes, we should be conscious of our surroundings first. This is the new definition of the city life that I could derive from my photography project.

December 14, 2010   No Comments

Having Fun with Sombreros

Recently, I had the great pleasure of going out with a couple of individuals I don’t normally see on a daily basis. It was a great change of pace, and overall the night was quite pleasurable.

I was sitting in my room planning on spending another lonely Thursday night by myself, when my friends, whom I haven’t seen in awhile, decided to go out to a restaurant called The Hat. Now, I have never heard of this strange place before, but they guaranteed me of delicious food and tasty beverages. After we all met up, we started walking towards our destination. The whole time, I was wondering what The Hat was, and at one point I couldn’t handle the suspense and had to know. At that point, my friends really wanted to tell me but didn’t want to ruin the night by telling me what or where the restaurant was. The only hint they provided was that it was a place where I’ve been to before.

We arrive, and as I’m standing outside, I look up only to realize that The Hat wasn’t the name of the restaurant. As it turns out, the name of the restaurant was El Sombrero, which is simply The Hat in English. At that moment I turn to my friends and tell them, “Of course I’ve been here before!” I couldn’t wait to go in because the food and the beverages were both amazing, and I couldn’t wait to order and devour a little taste of Mexico.

During our meal, I found several “Sombreros,” or Mexican-style hats, hanging on the walls of the restaurant. My friends decided to try the hats on, and to our great surprise, we looked fabulous in them. As the Mexican music filled the air, we danced the night away in our beautiful yet oversized hats, or as the Mexicans called it, “Sombreros.”

December 13, 2010   No Comments

Medea: Simplicity, That Was All It Took.

There is the word that we often forget in our busy lives: “simplicity.” Overwhelmed by day-to-day technological and cultural changes, we continuously look for something new and flashy. We are so used to watching the enormous, delicate stage on the Broadway show and actors and actresses in stunning outfits. However, Medea reading directed by Mahayana Landowne at the Baruch Performing Arts Center on October 4th, 2010 made me to realize that the real potential of a performing art is not limited to the materials on the stage. By minimizing the stage devices and outfits, the performance proved that nothing else could outreach the potential of the performers.

Medea is an ancient play written by Euripides in the 3rd century B.C. It contains a deep depth of emotions of agony, betrayal and revenge. When I first heard that we were going to attend the reading, I was concerned. Without any stage devices or the appropriate costumes to imply the setting and time, how are they going to embody Medea from the Ancient Greece?  However, as soon as the actual reading started by Kathleen Turco-Lyon’s calm voice who played the nurse, I put aside all my concerns. I was instantly drawn into the passionate reading of the actors and actresses. Especially whenever the actress Denise Ann Pelletier, who played a role of Medea grasped the attention from the audience through her passionate acting. Every little aspect of her voice, gaze and even hand gestures, all became Medea herself. With her bare feet, she led herself and all of us into the real world of drama. Through I learned the beauty of simplicity.

December 13, 2010   No Comments

Art at MoMa: Ambiguous, Abstract and Atypical

I am usually a grumpy country girl. Every morning, I start my day with pouring complaints and sighs when I have to throw myself into a packed F train. One thing that I appreciate in my life of a city dweller is having an access to the cultural enrichment. Overflowing with museums, galleries and performance halls, New York City is all about the culture. Amongst all the powerhouses of inspiration, there is one place that I actually love the most. At the Museum of Modern Art, you are not allowed to perceive the paintings as they are. Instead, you find a thought, an insight, and inspiration of different artists. Before I entered MoMa, my eyes sparkled with curiosity. What would inspire me today? I always ask myself the same question, but each time MoMa provides me with a different answer. When I attentively and creatively examined the works from the exhibition “Abstract Expressionist New York,” three words came to my mind for deriving my own definition of Art: Ambiguous, Abstract, and Atypical.

<1951. Enamel paint on canvas, 7′ 7 7/8″ x 7′ 2″ (233.4 x 218.4 cm). Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest and the Mr. and Mrs. David Rockefeller Fund. © 2010 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York>

Art is Ambiguous: Abstract art finds its values from ambiguity. Among the paintings, today’s exhibition could be summarized by “rediscovery of Jackson Pollock.” Jackson Pollock was an American painter who significantly influenced other abstract artists by developing the action painting method for the first time. This was just general information that I had about him. I knew about his style of spraying the paints all over the canvas creating undefined figures, but I couldn’t appreciate his artwork before. I secretly grumbled whenever I passed by his paintings, “Hey, I did the same thing when I was in 4th grade art class!”

Nonetheless, something has changed this time. I could not arrogantly walk away from his painting. The one that stroke me the most was “Echo: Number 25, 1951.” I never knew Pollock’s painting blobs had this deep sensation in them. As if I were seeing a vibrant herd of horses on some oriental painting, all the ambiguous figures were weaved together and emitted a powerful energy. From his painting, I was able to find the first, simple definition of art: it is a process of creating something from nothing.

<1941-44. Oil on canvas, 27 1/4 x 17 1/8″ (69.2 x 43.5 cm). Gift of Renate Ponsold Motherwell>

Art is Abstract: Abstractism prevents us from judging the values of the artwork. The one aspect that I really love about abstract art is that there is no right or wrong answer for your own interpretation of the work. Most of them do not even have a title. For the ones that actually have a title, I tend check the title at the last minute: by doing so, I can freely think and interpret the artwork through my own lens. When I was looking at Robert Motherwell’s “The Little Spanish Prison,” I didn’t look at the credit to check the title. Somehow, the painting’s yellow and white stripes with one accentuated pink vertical block on the bottom reminded me of a prison cell. After checking the title, I was very happy. It wasn’t simply because I made the correct guess; but, I was able to connect my thoughts with the artist and communicate with him through his painting.

<1950. Egg tempera and enamel on canvas, 8′ 1/8″ x 8′ 9 1/2″ (244.1 x 268 cm). The Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection. © 2010 Barnett Newman Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York>

Art is Atypical: If we see an artwork like Barnett Newman’s “The Voice,” we arrogantly say, “A 4 year-old can even do this!” Yes, his painting is nothing but a giant white canvas with one indefinite line on the side. And yes, maybe a 4-year-old can imitate his painting after staring at it for 5 seconds. However, here is the real difference. You might have thought of the same idea, but you’re not the one who created this art. You are not the one who executed the same idea to share with other people. It seems very easy to be an artist, but certainly not everyone can become one. Whether the painting is consisted of seemingly meaningless colors, shapes and lines, its value for is in being someone’s exclusive idea that wasn’t originally expressed. A typical artist follows what other people think. However, an atypical artist listens to his own voice and expresses what he thinks.

I personally consider having a definite and unique style as the most significant trait of an artist. In that perspective, Pollock’s natural and vibrant flows of enamel painting on the white canvas reveal his creativity and philosophy as an artist. I also admire his audacity of executing his ideas even though knowing that people are going to insensitively degrade his or her artistic values for its simplicity and easiness. As I was approaching the newly derived definition of art, I became terribly lost. In art, there is no right or wrong answer. Each one of us has a different voice from one another, and we all have different perspective through our own lenses. I was able to make different approaches for deriving the new definition of art by encountering new inspirations from the exhibition “Abstract expressionist New York.” There is no one definition that can solely stand for defining art. When my opinion and the artist’s intention finds an intersection, that is the moment that art meets its fullest value.

December 13, 2010   No Comments