CUNY Macaulay Honors College at Baruch College/Professor Bernstein
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Category — KBal

Abstract Art

We often hear the clichéd phrase “art is in the eye of the beholder.”  It is based on this phrase, that I make the claim that the Abstract Expressionist Exhibit at the MoMA was completely bizarre. However in this context, bizarre doesn’t necessarily have a negative connotation.  I found some of these bizarre paintings aesthetically pleasing, while others not so much.

Jackson Pollock’s idiosyncratic style was perhaps the most eye-catching in the exhibit.  On his canvases we see a mesh of vibrant colors, and unique shapes and figures that do not fail to attract viewers.  My favorite painting by Jackson Pollock has to be “The Flame”.  In this painting, Jackson blends an array of colors to portray a formidable flame.  Another one of his paintings that really caught my attention was the “Stenographic Figure.” In this painting, there appears to be two alien like figures, but they are hard to distinguish because they are blended into the colorful background, and this adds to the strangeness of the painting.  This painting has a sense of insanity to it that makes it alluring.  Jackson’s “Number 1A”, which was one of the largest paintings in the exhibit, was also another painting that had this sense of insanity. It looked as if he just threw paint on the canvas.  This paint spill look, and the seemingly rough texture of this painting help in creating this effect.  Overall, Jackson Pollock’s work was extremely lively.

Some of the abstract art on display left me really confused.  The supposed artwork done by those such as Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko fit into this category of being confusing.  Due to the simplicity in their paintings, I could never consider their works as art.  Each one of Barnett Newman’s paintings on display was dominated by a solid color, with either one or a few vertical stripes.  One of his works, called “The Voice”, was just a blank white canvas, with a vertical stripe.  In my mind “The Voice” is an inappropriate title, as the work fails to generate even a whisper.  It is so lifeless, that from a distance, one might not be able to distinguish the painting from the wall it is lodged upon. Also, like Barnett Newman’s paintings, I can’t credit Mark Rothko’s work as being art, because his paintings were also overly simplistic. In his paintings, instead of using thin, vertical stripes, he uses thick horizontal stripes and places them on a solid background.  One such painting of his, “No. 14”, has four horizontal stripes placed on a brown background; it was a very bland painting.  As a viewer, I found it puzzling to see such simple works on display at the world famous Museum of Modern Art.

Every individual has a distinct taste for art, and with its large collection of artwork, the Museum of Modern Art, will satisfy all visitors.  In my mind, the Abstract Expressionist Exhibit has its highs and lows. I found the work of Jackson Pollock to be very energetic, while that of Mr. Newman and Mr. Rothko to be lackluster.  Overall, seeing this exhibit at the MoMA was a great experience, which allowed me to explore my views on abstract art.

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December 9, 2010   No Comments

Forever Waiting

Forever Waiting


In 1984 Indira Gandhi’s decision to proceed with Operation Blue Star, which led to open fire at the Golden Temple in Punjab, caused India to plunge into complete turmoil.  Her decision resulted in an attack on the holiest Sikh location in India, and the death of hundreds of Sikhs; this rooted a deep desire for revenge amongst Sikhs.  In response to the atrocity that she was largely responsible for, Indira Gandhi’s two trusted Sikh bodyguards shot her to death.  After this shooting, all hell broke loose, as both Hindu and Sikh extremists became more and more violent.  In rural areas of Punjab, violence occurred on a much smaller level, due to the fact that it was a primarily Sikh area.  However as time went by, the Indian Police began killing many young Sikh men, accusing them of being extremists, even though most of them were innocent.  This left only two options for many young men all over the state of Punjab; either leave their families behind and go abroad, or stay and live a refugee lifestyle with a group of young men also on the run, looking for revenge; otherwise referred to as the extremists.

This is the reason my dad came to America, leaving behind his family, and most importantly his mother, whom he loved more than anyone. The following is a story, which my dad has told me so many times, that it feels as if I was actually there to witness every moment.


“Bang! Bang!” The gate rattled furiously, as the butt of the police officer’s gun clashed with the metal gate, echoing for what felt like an eternity.  As my grandma opened the gate, a group of police officers stood there in their khaki uniforms, with their guns in hand.  They resembled a pack of wild dogs, drooling for the chance to pull the trigger, and pocket some extra cash.  Without asking for permission, they ran into the house, searching for any “suspected extremists”.  Failing to find anyone, the lead officer stormed out of the house barking out curses, while his pack followed behind him.

“It’s no longer safe for you to stay here Joginder.  The Police came again today, and who knows when they will show up next,” my grandma said to my dad when he returned home from Kabaddi (Indian sport) practice.  “Please listen to me, and meet with the travel agent tomorrow.”

“Where am I supposed to go? Do you just want me to leave you here?” he asked her rhetorically.  Without knowing, my dad had raised his voice.  He noticed that his mom, who rarely cried, was now tearing, so not wanting to upset his mom even more, he decided to meet with the agent.  After all, he thought, she only wanted what was best for him.  In a couple of days, the agent made the plans, and found a flight to take my father to Germany.

A few weeks later, as he was leaving for the airport my dad made a promise to his mother, saying that he would return to her as soon as possible.  He didn’t know what to expect from this new land he was heading to, but whatever it was, he had no choice but to accept it.  Both were victims of circumstance; never did he imagine that he would leave his mother to live in a foreign land, and never did my grandma think that she would send off her son so far away.

“I will be waiting for you” she responded to his promise in tears.  As she watched him leave, little did she know that it would be the last time that she would see her youngest son.

Foreign Lands

My dad spent the next two years living in Germany.  He worked five days a week, and sent back money to his mother every month.  He enjoyed his time there, but didn’t see any opportunity to grow.  So, when he discovered an opportunity to go to New York City he quickly jumped on board.  By this time, the hostile atmosphere in India had also cooled significantly, and my grandma would often ask my dad how much longer she would have to wait to see him.  Not wanting to miss out on the opportunity to go to America, he kept extending his promise, telling her that he would only be in America for a year or so, and that he would return soon after.

In New York City, a group of his brother’s friends took him in and introduced him to the trucking business.  “I’m only here for a year or two, and then I’m going to return to India” he told his brother’s friends when he first got here.

When they heard this, they both exploded in laughter.  “That’s what we all say when we get here, but when the money starts coming in, things change,” one of them responded.  “We’ll discuss this in a year or two.”

After driving a truck for a friend for a few months, he branched off and started to buy his own trucks.  As his business expanded, the chances of him returning to his mother decreased more and more.  He continued to talk to his mom and he continued to tell her that it was only a matter of months before he returned.  However as time passed by, and his business expanded, these few months became a few years. Soon, his mother passed away, and he was shattered emotionally.  Ever since then, he hasn’t forgiven himself; like the others he too became an addict of this drug called opportunity, and because of it he lost sight of what was most important.

While he sits in his leather office chair and slowly falls into a daydream, he often thinks of her.  He thinks of her unconditional love, all the things she did for him, and most of all the promise that he had failed to fulfill. He regrets the fact that he let himself become so vulnerable to wealth and success that he couldn’t even return home to visit his mother.  Now, he goes back to India almost every year, because he says that it is the only place where he can feel his mother’s presence.  He almost feels as if she’s still waiting for him.  Whenever I’m in an argument with my mom, he always tells me “Your mother is the only person who will be there for you no matter what, so never, ever take her for granted.”

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December 7, 2010   2 Comments

No Fear

As Sara Krulwich walked toward the first row of students to show how close we should get to our subjects when taking photos, I could tell that she had a very outgoing and fearless personality.  She wasn’t concerned about getting close, and about doing something outside of the norm.  She was also able to connect with the class and create a comfortable environment, as she treated us photographers, and even complimented some of our works. Never in my life have I ever been complimented for my artwork, so when Sarah Krulwich, a renowned photographer for the New York Times complemented some of my photography I was both happy and surprised.  It is this personality that allowed Sara Krulwich to have a successful career as a photographer, as she took huge strides for women in what was at the time, a prominently male field.

During her classroom visit she showed us many of her photographs that she had taken or had been take of her.  One of the photos that stuck out to me was of her at the Michigan football game, where she is the lone woman on the field.  She was trying to take photos for the college paper, and in order to do so, she had disregarded the rules, which stated that women weren’t allowed on the football field.  This photo exhibited her as both brave and progressive. What I found most interesting about her was her ability to make the most of her opportunities.  When she first started off as a photographer, she was assigned to photograph sporting events.  She talked about the difficulties she dealt with in photographing sports, which included the lack of sports knowledge, and the criticality of timing.  If you are early or late, even by a split second, you will not be able to capture the moment you are looking for.  Although it was tough, she learned the ins and outs of photographing the fast paced action of sports.  Later in her career, she was able to bring this same style to theatrical photography, which has resulted in some fantastic, action-packed photographs.

December 7, 2010   No Comments

The Barbershop

Every other Sunday morning, my brother and I get up at 10:30 (which we consider early for a Sunday morning) and head to our barbershop, just the way we have been doing for a great portion of our lives.  Located in the heart of Flushing, it attracts a very diverse group of customers. When we get there, we wait, often hours at a time, to get our haircut.  However, we don’t mind the wait one bit.  During this time we catch up with fellow friends who are also waiting to get their haircuts, and with our barber, who has become a friend first and barber second.

Whether it is a conversation about politics, the economy, community projects, or sports, the barbershop is a hot spot for conversation.  The TV at the shop is always on, either on CNN or ESPN; in a way it facilitates all the conversations that take place at the shop. Since it is football season, for the past few months, most, if not all of our conversations are about football.  “Jets are the best team in the league,” my barber will often say, in his thick, hard to understand Russian accent.  I remember when I first walked into the very same barbershop; I hadn’t understood a word he said.  However now, eight years later, I understand him as if he has no accent at all.  For me, my barbershop isn’t just the place where I get my haircut.  It is a place where I meet my friends from the community, and where we discuss everything and anything that deserves discussion.

November 30, 2010   2 Comments

Justice Needs to be Served

“These innocent boys are guilty,” the judge says leaving the Scottsboro Boys and viewers alike aghast.  This is one line from The Scottsboro Boys that still resonates in my mind, even though it has been days since I saw the musical.  This quote captures a truly perverse moment from America’s past, which the show, The Scottsboro Boys so effectively portrays.

The Scottsboro Boys uses the minstrel show art form, and although it is a racist form, it serves very efficiently as a source of comedic alleviation for what is a dark tale of injustice.  Some might feel hesitant to go and watch this performance if they hear that it takes on the form of a minstrel show; however, potential viewers shouldn’t let this affect their decision to watch this great show.  This is because at the end of the show, when the Scottsboro Boys remove their blackface, and disregard what the interlocutor is telling them to do, they show a much needed sign of rebellion against this form, and the stereotypical limitations forced upon them by it.

Overall, the acting in the musical was engaging and unique.  Joshua Henry’s portrayal of Haywood Patterson was one of the most compelling performances I have ever seen.  In the playbill, Haywood Patterson is quoted saying, “I don’t tell people stories.  I tell the truth.”  Joshua Henry acts in accordance with this quote, accurately exhibiting Mr. Patterson’s character.  His serious demeanor preserves the significance and gravity of this historical moment, even through the comical scenes that try to alleviate some of the gravity of the story.  All of the actors, especially Colman Domingo and Forrest Mcclendon, show their versatility as they tackle quite a few different roles in the show.   Although this made some scenes confusing, overall it was a humorous addition.  Also, the woman lurking in the background, who we later discover is Rosa Parks, does a great job of blending inconspicuously into the scenes.  In addition, just the fact that Rosa Parks was inspired by the incident that occurred with these young men shows both its prominence and influence.

As for the sets, although they were limited, the manner in which they were utilized was very effective. When I took my seat, and looked at the stage I saw a cluster of chairs; if someone were to tell me that all of the sets in the show would comprise of just these chairs, along with a few pieces of wood, I wouldn’t have believed them.  However as the show unfolded, these chairs began to transform magically into different things such as a train, a jail cell and more. At times I truly felt as if these chairs were actually what the actors were trying to show them to be.  Lighting helped establish the moods for every scene, and made the sets even more realistic.  Perhaps the most eye-catching scene from the show was the electric chair scene, in which lighting played a major role.  It used electricity and flashing lights to keep the attention of viewers glued to the stage.  The sets and lighting helped give life to the settings exhibited in the musical.

The music and the dancing served as the backbone for the musical. Hidden almost completely under the stage, the orchestra set the tone for every scene. For the darker or more nerve-racking scenes, such as those that showed the judge’s decisions, bass was prominent, and the bass drum was used to keep it strong.  However, for the most part, melodic instruments such as the trumpet are put in the forefront.  The dancing, especially for the melodic scenes ranged from being completely wacky to completely synchronized.  I found this very interesting, because I saw the synchronization as a representation of the constraints of the minstrel show form, and the wackiness as a representation of the freedom and justice sought by the boys.  What I found as an entertaining feature was that the actors didn’t merely serve as actors and dancers; they also participated in creating the music, whether it was with the tambourines or by stomping their feet.

The Scottsboro Boys is an experience unlike any other.  It is an exhilarating and creative combination of acting, music, and even comedy, which exhibits the story of a group of innocent young men who deal with America’s tainted justice system of the past.  The Scottsboro Boys is definitely a must see show for all types of viewers.

November 29, 2010   No Comments

The Greatest Ever


As Michael Jordan dribbled down the court, you could see the ferocity in his eyes; the type of ferocity a lion has when it locates its prey.  The Utah Jazz fans held their breath.  For many years the Jazz had been a great team, but they had aged, and this was perhaps their last chance to win it all.  However, Michael Jordan had his own goodbye to make, as he was considering retirement. After letting a few seconds go off the clock, Jordan dribbled to the top of the circle, crossed over to the left, giving Bryon Russell a slight nudge, ridding himself of the pesky defender.  He rose above the defense and let the ball go. When he came back down to the hardwood, he kept his extended hand in the air, like a dagger in the hopes and dreams of the Jazz and their faithful.  “SWISH.”  It was moments like these that made Jordan the greatest basketball player of all time.

Growing up as the son of a huge Knicks fanatic, whenever the Knicks played the Bulls, I would often hear my dad yelling at the television screen in anguish, as Michael Jordan crushed the Knicks hopes time after time.  However, the Knicks weren’t his only victims.  In his reign in the NBA, he took down major powerhouses such as the Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Detroit Pistons, and created his own dynasty.  He went on to win six championships, five MVP trophies, and set many records.  Over the past three decades, Jordan has become a superlative for greatness.  Even today if I do something well, I will say, “ I’m the Jordan of … (whatever I have done well)”.  Never has there been an athlete as popular or as dominant in his sport than Jordan.

The reason why I chose to do my collage project on Michael Jordan, was because of the masterpieces he created on the court.  When I look at old videos and photographs of Michael Jordan playing basketball, I am always amazed by the countless number of stunning images that capture some of his most magical moments.  Although Jordan probably has been commemorated hundreds of times before, I thought that I should do it with my personal touch.  For my music I used three tracks.  One was the recognizable theme song of the Chicago Bulls.  The second was the instrumental portion of Eminem’s Lose Yourself.  I used this song, because in this song Eminem tells listeners to make the most out of the moments they are in, which Jordan has done consistently over the course of his career.  I end the video with a portion of Drake’s song “Forever”, where he says his name is Greatest Ever, but I use it for Jordan, who, when it comes to basketball, truly is the Greatest Ever.  For the photos and video clips of my collage, I picked my six favorite Michael Jordan moments, one representing each Larry O’Brien Trophy he has hoisted in his career.  My favorite moment is the one I wrote about above, where Michael Jordan ended his legendary career as a Bull with an unforgettable shot; this moment has a very artistic feeling to it.  Another moment I included is what some consider as the leaning dunk, and others as the Superman dunk.  This dunk/photo gives me chills every time I see it, because his body is at an angle where it almost seems as if he is flying.  I also included his free throw line dunk, which is well known as the logo for the Jordan brand.  As much as it hurt me to do so, I even included a photo of Michael Jordan throwing down a vicious dunk on Knicks star Patrick Ewing, just because of the aesthetic beauty of the dunk itself.  I added a dream like effect to all of these photos and videos, because some of these things that Michael Jordan did on the basketball court could only be conceived in a dream.

If ever there was a basketball god, Michael Jordan would be it.  The combination of poise and skill that thrived within him, truly allowed him to make the game of basketball look like it was easy.  It was this sense of easiness that he brought to the game, which allowed for these photographic masterpieces to be produced.

November 23, 2010   No Comments

What in the World are Crisps?

“Would you like something to eat?” I asked my cousins, who had just arrived from England.  “It’d be great if I can get some crisps” one of them responded.  I stood there transfixed, wondering what in the world crisps were.  When they tried to explain, I learned that it was definitely some sort of snack.  I eventually had to resort to the always trustworthy Google, which told me that crisps were what we call chips in America.  This was the start of an extremely long and confusing two weeks; my cousins had come to visit from Europe, and although we all spoke the same language, I couldn’t comprehend a huge portion of what they were saying.  They spoke fast, and often I would really have to concentrate in order to understand what they were saying. Sometimes they would laugh at me, and would say, “American are slow”.  Being younger than them all, I tried to remain respectful to them, but eventually I would often have to respond.  “The best thing that the British have given the world is Harry Potter,” I once said, in response to a comment they had made to mock Americans.  Joking around about our different cultures helped us get along with each other.  Our trip to Canada (to visit family) also helped us get along with each other, as we joined forces to make fun of Canadians.  When time had come for them to leave, I was able to keep up with their fast language, and for a few weeks after they left, I had even picked up a little bit of their accent; but I made sure that I eventually dropped it.

November 16, 2010   No Comments

NYC: The Fast and Enormous


Growing up in Queens, I was an avid fan of Spiderman.  I would often dream of slinging from skyscraper to skyscraper, and swooping down Manhattan streets to save the day.  Although, I will never be able to do this, through photography, I can always capture the views of the city that Spiderman would probably see a lot of if only he existed.  In this gallery, I display different views of the city, including ground level, aerial, and distanced views, in order to display the immense size and the speed of New York City.

“Karnveer! Pay attention to the directions, and stop taking pictures.  We just missed another turn because of you” Brandon yelled frantically. Brandon, Tracy and I were driving to the Metropolitan Opera to watch Rigoletto, and I was the GPS system (reading the directions).  Both Tracy and Brandon were worried about being late, while I was calmly taking pictures of everything that caught my attention.  My deviation from reading the directions had caused us to miss a turn, but it was worth it, because we eventually made it to the Metropolitan Opera on time, and I got my photos.  These photos were taken in the night, and were taken from ground level.  One of my favorite photos taken on our journey was of the twin buildings of the Time Warner Center. I thought the photo was very unique due to the contrast between the vibrant red lights from the cars, and the blue and white lights coming from the buildings above.  Another one of these photos that I really liked was “Blurred City”, because I took it when the car was moving fast, and due to the speed, the lighting came out fuzzy; it captures the theme of speed that exists in New York City life.

If you want to feel like you are on top of the world, nothing will provide you a better feeling of this than looking down from a New York City skyscraper.  In July and August, through a summer program I was in, I was able to access some very high vantage points at some of the biggest buildings in New York including the Sony Tower, and the law offices of Winston and Strawn at the Met Life Building. At these incredible heights, the city appeared to be toy-like. When I looked out of the windows at these buildings, especially at the Sony Tower, I was amazed by the seemingly infinite amount of buildings lined up one after the other.  While at the Winston and Strawn office, I was awestruck when I looked down at the speed of New York City; cars and people raced up and down the city streets and showed no signs of stopping; with my photos, I tried to slow it down.

Some of my favorite photos of New York City are actually from outside of the city. The “Sunset from Queens” photo was taken from the Van Wyck Expressway; in the backdrop of this photo, you can see the New York skyline in a reverse fashion.  Here, these larger than life buildings appear microscopic.  Although the photo is taken from a great distance, the skyscrapers are still visible, showing their tremendous sizes.  To take this photo, I had to pull down the window, and hold out my phone firmly, making sure I didn’t drop it.  My dad constantly reminded me that if I dropped it, he wasn’t going to pay for a new one, so I was definitely under pressure.  The other photo that I took from outside of the city was the “The Empire State Building from the Queensboro Bridge”.  This photo appears blurry, because it was one I took while we were heading away from the city, and I had to position myself in an awkward position to take it.  These two photos were much different from the other ones I took, because they look at the city from the outside.

With it’s heaven reaching skyscrapers, and rocket fast life style, New York City can’t possibly be captured in a few photos.  But that hasn’t stopped me from trying.  Over the past six months I’ve really been exposed to New York City, and wherever I’ve gone, I’ve snapped photos of everything I’ve seen.  In this album, I’ve included photos that capture the size and speed of New York City.

November 16, 2010   1 Comment

Revival of a War

As I made my way through the busy Manhattan street, and entered the International Center of Photography, I was captivated by the simplicity and the modernity of the museum.  These characteristics of the museum helped set all of the focus on the exhibit on display (The Mexican Suitcase). The lighting throughout the exhibit was also simplistic, as it didn’t create too dramatic of an effect, and thus, didn’t interfere with the viewing experience. The one problem I had with the simplicity of the exhibit was the presence of a lot of emptiness on the walls, as the photographs covered only an infinitesimal fraction of the walls.  In many areas, writing such as the explanation of the exhibit and the Spanish Civil War, and dates could be seen covering up some empty spaces, and although it helped cover more of the walls, overall, it still wasn’t very effective.  As for the exhibit itself, the Mexican Suitcase consisted of the works (and techniques) of Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and David Seymour, and captured all aspects of the Spanish Civil War, from the politics behind it, the actual warfare, the damage inflicted by it, and its societal impact.  Their extensive work on the Spanish Civil War allows viewers of the exhibit to revisit and learn about a major historical event.

Some of the best photography from the exhibit was that which displayed warfare.  Robert Capa’s work especially (who was my favorite photographer out of the three), gives us the sensation that we are actually in the trenches and the battlefields witnessing the war take place.  He creates this feeling through his emphasis on the backgrounds in his photos. One such photograph in which he does this is from the Battle of Teruel, in which two soldiers are looking out through a destroyed building. The focus on the gorgeous backdrop and its sense of proximity really allow viewers to get a scope of the setting, and feel as if they are a part of the photo.  Throughout his photographs, not only do we see bleak images of death and destruction, but also of camaraderie and hope.  One photograph that really caught my attention was an inspiring photo he took from the Battle of Rio Segre; it was a photo of two soldiers helping one of their wounded companions through uplifted dust.  Due to the dust, the photograph appears blurry, and although the three soldiers appear to be the focus of the photo, it’s their emergence from the background that makes them the focus.  Robert Capa’s style of photography, in which the environment is emphasized, is one that I really enjoy.

The photography of Gerda Taro and David Seymour seemed to focus more on people rather than backgrounds.  Gerda Taro’s photography, which focuses primarily on the people in it, results in some depressing images.  In her photography, particularly from her photos of the battle from the Navacerrada Pass, we witness death, injuries, and get a grasp of how formidable the war was.  Many of David Seymour’s photographs display and emphasize larger groups of people and their movements.  For example, in one of his galleries, which shows a parade in Barcelona commemorating the 19th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, many of his photos focus solely on the large group of people in attendance.  The most interesting photo taken by David Seymour that was on display was of a woman nursing her child at a land reform meeting. In this photograph the woman is amongst a large group of people, but is clearly the focus of the photograph.  Taro’s and Seymour’s attention on the citizens and soldiers of the Spanish Civil War portrays the societal impact of the war.(

Through the combination of the photography styles of Taro, Capa, and Seymour, we really get to see a diverse collection of images from this major historical event.  The International Center of Photography does a great job in displaying these photographs for the public to see.  The Mexican Suitcase is a tremendous exhibit for fans of photography, and those who want to learn about the Spanish Civil War.

November 9, 2010   No Comments



artist statement

November 2, 2010   No Comments