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

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

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

Who He Is

Who He Is


My name is Sami Khan and I’m currently an eighteen-year-old student at the Macaulay Honors College at Baruch. To tell the truth, I’m no different than many of you, except for this one physical blemish that I will continue to have for the rest of my life. This is my story; this is who I am.

The past. I’m six-years-old. “Mr. Khan,” says Dr. Grossman to my father. “I am sorry to inform you, but your son will continue to have arthritis in his left hand, and his left arm will continue to look deformed until he’s old enough to have plastic surgery. I wish we could give you a more detailed analysis, but this is an abnormal condition.”

Fast forward. I’m thirteen-years-old. It’s eighty degrees outside, a warm, sunny September morning. It’s my first day of high school. I walk into my homeroom, being sure to keep my long-sleeved shirt pulled over both my arms. I notice that I’m the only freshman wearing a long-sleeved shirt. I can already see the students starting to mingle. It looks like a pair of magnets coming together, some groups repel, while others attract. The jocks are pulled into one corner, the artists into another, the aspiring scholars into another, and in the final corner? Me. Lonesome, me. The paranoid thirteen-year-old who is willing to be socially awkward before being honest about what my left sleeve concealed. I’d rather be socially awkward than a freak.

Fast forward. I’m fourteen-years-old. It’s my third week of sophomore year. “Ringggg!” goes the school bell. I race out of the school and take the F train all the way to the Forest Hills Rehabilitation Center: my sanctuary. I walk into the center, greeting my peers. I hear an unfamiliar laughter coming from my therapist’s room. I peak my head in to see my therapist treating a new patient. He immediately struck me as one of those people everyone loved: funny, intelligent, caring. As I take a seat next to him, he introduces himself to me as John Kim. He tells me about how he lost his leg during the war in Iraq, and tells me about all the things he can no longer do in life. But why is he telling me this? I’m a complete stranger! Despite the fact that we are both quite similar due to our physical irregularities, he was a completely different person. He was an open and confident person. John’s courage gave me a feeling like no other. I felt inspired beyond words. The next Monday, I turned my life around. I wore a t-shirt.

Fast forward. I’m sixteen-years-old. It’s the first day of senior year. I walk to the front of the classroom, greeting our newly recruited debaters. I stand confidently and tell them about Brooklyn Technical High School’s debate program. They eagerly listen to me, occasionally nodding their heads. At the end of my speech, I ask them if they have any questions. A curious freshman raises his hand and asks me what happened to my arm. I tell him it’s a birth defect, and he asks me whether I’m bothered by it. I tell him that I’m not. I tell him that my arm makes me who I am. I tell him that it was uncomfortable at first to know that every new person I met would be looking at my arm and not at my face. I tell him about how I heard all the different rumors people came up with explaining how my arm became the way it is. And then I tell him something that I was only able to realize because I met John Kim: my arm is nothing more than well, an arm.

December 9, 2010   7 Comments

The Order of Art

What is art? That was the only question I still could not answer, even when I was standing in front of several well-known and celebrated paintings by several significant artists of the 20th century. Before I arrived at the Modern Museum of Art, I knew that the day would be a challenging one. As an art student, it seemed like I had to know what the exact criteria was for the perfect painting, or any piece of art really. To tell you the truth not a single person can give an accurate definition of what art is, and I had to discover this all on my own as I stood puzzled in front of Louis Nevelson’s Sky Cathedral. When I first observed it close up, I realized that each single section of the humongous sculpture was “art” in itself. Upon further reflection, Nevelson’s goal was to create a collage of sculptures, thus create a piece that was art within art. Standing alone in front of this majestic collage-like structure, I feel time halter just for a moment. Eureka!

The definition of art from any dictionary is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. After observing all the different pieces of Sky Cathedral, I can say I finally understand art, if only for my own understanding. Works of art are beautiful or emotionally moving because they appeal to the natural law of order and chaos. For the American born sculptor Louis Nevelson, chaos was one of his most creative and useful tools as an artist. The old saying, “From chaos comes order” contributes to the beauty of art, especially for collage-like sculptures. The difficulty of making unique miniature sculptures, and then conjoining them to make one beautiful sculpture displays the exact meaning of the saying. To all celebrated artists, they understand that art is not only a reflection of themselves, but also a technique in which they are able to establish order in a world overwhelmed by chaos.

The Trafalgar Square of the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian further exemplifies the truth in the saying. In the painting, Mondrian simply paints a few black lines and several yellow, red, and blue rectangular shapes. But this piece is considered beauty by its very definition because of the way random lines and shapes are put into a specific order to create such a painting. Every time we look at a painting such as this, we are specifically reminded of Mondrian’s work, simply because his style of painting lines in one place, and rectangular places in another remind everyone of this idea of order from chaos.

The trip to the MoMA was educational and entertaining because I was able to understand the full meaning of what art is. Although art may be subjective, there are several universal characteristics that make something a masterpiece. Personally, art is the transformation of a chaotic being or substance into that which is ordered and systematic. In retrospect, I feel that this personal definition holds true when reviewing the pieces of art I have seen at MoMA.

December 9, 2010   No Comments

The Show Goes On

The Scottsboro Boys presents a horrifying account of racial struggle through a combination of comical entertainment and troubling revelation. The play follows one of the most racist forms of theatre, the minstrel show, and begins the story, in past tense, of apparent injustice and racism found a long time ago in the South. Most of the actors on stage were African-American, purposefully chosen to play an important role in this historical tragedy. The constant shifting of ethnic and gender roles by these African-American actors generate a different outlook, and point to the fact that the production represents the boys’ perspective throughout the events leading to their ultimate tragedy.

The musical begins by providing the audience with circus spectacles, immediately referring to the minstrelsy of the entire operation. The only Caucasian actor is the conductor of the show who often acts as a medium between past and present. This “Southern Gentlemen” consistently interrupts the overall emotional connection to the story, and often reveals just how far removed the audience is with the injustice that the story depicts. Aside from the provocative dance routines and humorous but cliché catchphrases, the boys continue to narrative a story that is serious, although there are joyous moments filled with laughter and uplifting chords. The “Electric Chair” displays the terrified boy prancing and dancing and eventually dragged around the chair, where the tempo is steadily increasing and the mood is ever changing. There are several instances where fear and joy are displayed, especially the White guards, played by African American actors, strutting around demonstrating their power over the helpless inmates who are destined to be guilty in the Southern courts of law.

The audience is often reminded that the emotions of fear and excitement are constantly pushed to its extremes, revealing that the trials and tribulations these boys experienced are more than a story, that the events the boys powerlessly witnessed actually happened in the South not very long ago. This spectacular musical portrays the unjustified and racist events of the past, a revelation that the audience continues to undergo until the very end. This idea of a show-within-a-show is further exemplified by the use of blackface makeup used by the African American members of the minstrel group. Now, this appalling sort of representation presents the constant oppression even the actors could not escape.

The greatest surprise of the show was the ingenious use of chairs to form the set. During each scene, the chairs are assembled in a different balance, which allows the audience to understand the shift in any one particular scene or moment. The actor’s use of imagination brings life onto stage, and truly adds credibility not only to the scene at hand, but also to the entire show.

To The Scottsboro Boys, bravo, bravo!

December 9, 2010   No Comments

International Center of Philosophy

A simple suitcase is able to capture a single momentous time in history that is often forgotten. During the visit to the International Center of Photography, the first exhibit was “The Mexican Suitcase,” which reveals an honest and unaltered aspect of the Spanish Civil War. Upon entrance into the museum, the first visual stimulant was an image of a suitcase, containing rolls of film, purposefully enlarged and placed to introduce the entire exhibit. Upon entering the exhibit, the first photograph I witnessed was of the two photographers, Gerda Taro and Robert Capa. Their works were the focus of the entire exhibit, but the most alarming fact was that they were both romantically involved. This is a fantastic approach because it adds depth to an otherwise formal and plain exhibit. Additionally, it seems like even after death, the photographers Taro and Capa would be forever linked.

As I proceeded further and had the chance to see several photographs, I learned aspects of the Spanish Civil War that certainly would not be discussed in many history courses. The neat order in which photographs were presented in the exhibit kept me highly interested in the topic, and I was able to learn of the traumatizing events that people and nations endured during the war. Beginning with Capa’s photographs, I was able to understand his interest in the war. In his photographs, Capa was capable of embodying the soldiers and their daily activities in a harsh environment. Most importantly, Capa captured photographs of such warfronts, such as the Aragon Front, which revealed the barren and empty areas each soldier had to partake in. This photographer’s style reveals the empty and meaningless nature of the soldiers and the war. Personally, this made it easier for me to visualize and understand the full impact of a war, especially the Spanish Civil War. Another photographer, by the name of Chim, approached taking photographs of the war in a different light. Chim’s photographs presented at the exhibit display themes of religion and its role in the war. From this photographer’s vision I was able to comprehend the importance of religion, its rituals and prayers, to the soldiers. In addition, I learned that religion was intertwined with a certain type of culture found in war.

Although some photographs were easy to study, others were not because of the miniature size of the images. It was sometimes hard to understand what an image portrayed because I would have a difficult time differentiating between the shapes and colors. At certain points during the exhibit, the photographs were made into a collage that was aesthetically pleasing, but hard to distinct as an individual image. Another feature of the exhibit was the silent video documentary on the wall. This was a reasonable attempt to aid individuals during there time, but failed because of the lack of sound. Sound bites often complement our visual perception, and often serve as an effective tool. But this creative addition failed in its utility to further provide further information about the Spanish Civil War or the photographers.

“The Mexican Suitcase” exhibit was small, but powerful enough to convey the historical significance of the Spanish Civil War and life within it. This visit to the International Center of Photography was certainly a crucial part of the curriculum, as it pleasantly surprised me with its content filled with old documents and photographs from the war.

December 8, 2010   No Comments

The Communicator

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Times square is known as the center where tourists from all over the world come and splurge in the delicious delicacies that New York City has to offer. To that extent, it is no surprise how well the mta transportation system is doing, despite its massive debt and rumors of fare hikes. Tourists often use these transportation systems, buses, ferries, subways, in order to get from one famous landmark, to a local delicatessen steeped in rich history.

The day started out like any other, with our IDC Arts class going to the Museum of Modern Art on a brisk day. It was quite a decent trip, and I had learned a lot about what Art is. What is Art? Well let’s just leave that discussion off to another day. After our professor-led tour was done for the day, everyone decided to go there separate days. I decided to leave with the bunch of people, who wanted to get food. The moment we left MOMA, one of my peers chose Halal food for lunch, and the rest of us followed. Far off in the distance, you could see a bustling Halal stand, with the employees of the place dressed in matching attire. When we were close enough, we could see the line of people waiting to get Halal food, and trust me, the wait was unbearable.

We had all eaten, and the food was amazing, considering I had a completely empty stomach when it was lunchtime. After all the food was consumed, we got on our way and took the subway back to Baruch College. However, we chose the wrong subway train to take at first, and ended up having to switch trains at Times Square. While in the Times Square station, a Chinese woman, from the southwestern part, asked me for directions to go to Herald Square in order to meet up with her friend. Now it would have been completely normal for us if we both had communicated with the English language. However, this was not the case. Instead, I was required to speak Chinese, something new to me because I haven’t spoken Chinese in so long. Luckily I was able to tell the woman where to go, and we were able to chitchat for a bit as we walked in the same direction. She told me how she just arrived in America a few days ago, and was looking for a friend to have lunch with.

She went her way, and I went back to join my friends after helping out the Chinese woman. For the rest of the day, there was a smile on my face, and I knew I had done something culturally astounding and productive the moment the woman had considered asking me for directions. Only in New York City…

December 6, 2010   No Comments

Sidekick Collage Project

Sidekick Collage

(Written piece is in the description of the video and below.)

Whenever we hear the names Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Superman, Batman, and the like, we recognize what they mean to us as a society. These individuals, whether fictional or not, have contributed to their respective careers, whether winning NBA championships or saving the day. However, you rarely heard of the underrated individuals who work alongside them. Even though this select group of people rarely gets the credit they desire, still they work with their better counterparts to be great. These sidekicks not only have assisted these “heroes” in whatever task they are supposed to perform, but also they have been unappreciated in the process. That is why for this particular collage project I have chosen to pay tribute to all the sidekicks who never got the recognition they truly deserve. To me, these sidekicks are heroes.

The song in the background is called The Show Goes On by Lupe Fiasco. The reason behind it was that for every single sidekick, the show had to go on even if they never deserved the attention or fame they should have achieved. These athletes or superheroes continued to struggle and survive, hoping one day they achieve something more than fame; they achieve greatness. I began the collage with one of the most well known sidekicks, Robin, who helped Batman battle and defeat all those criminals who were in Gotham City. Even though everyone knows about the courageous acts of batman, we rarely give credit to the acrobatic Robin who always helps Batman in times of crises. Similarly, basketball players such as Scottie Pippin and John Starks have helped superstars such as Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing win. Rarely do you hear about these sidekicks, and every time commentators talk about the game, it’s always the names of the superstars and how much they have contributed to the growth of the game.

November 23, 2010   1 Comment

Wen Bo Xie/Alleys


New York City is known for its majestic skyscrapers and architecturally brilliant buildings. One can basically wander into any Manhattan neighborhood and witness a beautifully designed building. As urban developers attempt to construct these wonders, they usually fail to incorporate alleys. They mistakenly believe that alleys are an “elite waste” of space, which could otherwise be used to increase the square area of the building. However, alleys are not only part of the city’s history, but also they are symbols of the lost culture. Alleys are a place where a group of individuals can exchange information. In addition, people are able to commit crimes, such as selling and buying illegal items or simply attacking and murdering other individuals. Without such places, New York City would not have the same atmosphere. As modernization tightens its grip on the city, alleys are diminishing all around due to the lack of appreciation for their historical value.

Alleys are of great interest to me due to their functionality. Over the summer I was working this job that required me to be outside for hours at a time. It was quite difficult to find a place to use the bathroom; instead I looked for the nearest alley in order to relieve myself. Throughout the whole entire summer, I would always end up in a strange section of New York. As a result, my daily assignment became looking for an alley so that I may relieve myself. As the days went by, I paid more and more attention to the detail and the size of each alley. As my fascination grew, I found myself using the bathroom more often mainly as an excuse to take a break from my job to observe the interesting aspects of each alley.

When the street photography project was assigned, I knew that I wanted to display the beauty of alleys in New York City. I proceeded to East Village and Greenwich Village to capture the essence of alleys and their importance to the splendor of these distinct neighborhoods. During the whole process, I was heavily influenced by Berenice Abbott’s style of shooting photography. Thus, I proceeded to take photographs with a focal point somewhere off in the distance, while using walls and gates as a guide. To my amazement, it wasn’t difficult finding the perfect alleys I wanted to capture. Instead, the hard part was actually taking the photograph, as people didn’t want me to document the alleys. Whenever someone told me to go away, I would stay just a moment longer in the hopes that I would be able to photograph that particular alley. I truly felt like a photographer when I repeatedly disregarded the warnings of those individuals who told me to go away.

As a warning, not all of my photographs are of the traditional alleys. I interpreted alley as a narrow passageway between walls, gates, or fences. For this project, I only had a 5-megapixel-camera phone at my disposal, so when I had taken all the photographs I went back and edited most of them to get the best results. During the editing process, I played around with the exposure and contrast levels to achieve the perfect lighting and details for the photograph. Even though I didn’t want them to be edited, I found it necessary because of the poor lighting of the raw photographs.

November 16, 2010   4 Comments