Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cultural Event: Side Show

     On February 25, 2011, the University of Denver's music program held a musical at the Lamont School of Music. One of my suitemates, Cecilie Nygaard, was cast as one of the lead roles and I wanted to see how all of her hard work paid off. The musical was amazingly entertaining and I was blown away by Cecilie's incredible voice. The musical, entitled "Side Show" was about siamese twins that are part of the freak show at a circus and are discovered by a businessman due to their incredible singing voices. The other freaks in the show are not so willing to let them leave, but they finally do in order to create better lives for themselves. They were mistreated in the circus and they left in order to find fame in happiness. However, life is never that simple.
     One of the twins, Daisy, falls for the businessman and the other twin, Violet, falls for the businessman's associate. This was an excellent plot twist as the businessman lusts after Daisy but refuses to commit to her due to the fact that he cannot look past the fact that she is a siamese twin. The businessman's associate proposes to Violet and she has a small glimpse of happiness as she thinks she founds someone who loves her. However, while he does care for her, he is marrying her for the wrong reasons and the wedding cannot go through. Right as Violet calls off the wedding, the twins are approached to star in a film by MGMT, and they agree to it just to find out that the title of the film is "Freaks." It was ultimately a heartbreaking storyline as neither of the twins find true love or acceptance from the world around them. I found a related a great deal to the twins as all they wanted was to be normal and to find somebody who loved them for who they truly were. After all, there is a little bit of a "freak" in us all. However, the entire musical was beautifully done and it makes me excited to go see another musical.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz is an extraordinary photographer and the documentary created by her sister, Barbara Leibovitz, portrays all of the fascinating aspects that have made her the talented individual she is now. She entered the San Francisco Art Institute with the intent of becoming an art teacher, but after attending a photography workshop something clicked inside of her, and she knew that photography would ultimately be her passion. She began as a photographer for Rolling Stone magazine when it was still in its beginning stages and that is where she gained her initial fame by photographing people big in the music business. She became close with big names such as Hunter S. Thompson and the Rolling Stones, which led to personal issues such as drug abuse.
Leibovitz's portrait of Yoko Ono and John Lennon, 1980

However, she ultimately overcame those personal impediments and upon Rolling Stone's move to New York she began to create different and more skillful photography works. She started doing more glamorous work with magazines such as Vanity Fair and Vogue. She is often criticized by the art community for her commercial works, but the talent demonstrated in her photographs are undeniable. Commercial or not, it still takes an immense amount of skill to create the photos that she does.

The documentary also does a superb job showing the intimate and complex friendship that she shared with the intellectual writer Susan Sontag. They did not always see eye to eye, but they complete one another in the sense that Annie Leibovitz was mainly a visual person and Susan Sontag was mainly a literary person. It was heartbreaking to hear Annie's story about Susan passing away, but that was a huge part of her life that needed to be shared in order to understand her humanity. All in all, she has an incredible personal story, and I hold a great deal of respect for how far she has come doing the work that she loves.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cultural Event: Powwow at the Denver Indian Center

     On February 12, 2011 I attended a cultural event which I have had the fortune of attending numerous times in my life: A powwow. Due to the fact that I come from Native American heritage, my parents have always attempted to expose me to as many traditions as possible, but it has only been in the past couple of years that I have developed a true appreciation for these cultural events. When I was younger I did not realize how wonderfully unique these types of gatherings are and truly took them for granted. However, now that I attend a predominantly Caucasian university, I feel starved for events that display cultural traditions.
     Powwows are generally regarded as social gatherings that are open to the community, in which there are dancers, drum groups, vendors, and food. The dancers come from a wide range of age groups from tots to veterans, and each age and gender has its own categories. The dances performed are typically ones such as women's fancy dance, or men's traditional. Each dance has a certain type of clothing that goes with it, such as jingle dresses for the jingle dance. Every dancer is responsible for providing their own garb, but the clothing usually consists of bright colors, beading, and certain feathers or furs.
     My initial intent in going into the powwow at the Denver Indian Center was to actually promote a powwow that the Native Student Alliance at the University of Denver is coordinating. This is an event in which I am really looking forward to and I wanted to start getting the word out. I looked over some of the beautiful artwork created by the vendors and proceeded to ask the MC to announce the University of Denver powwow. Knowing the networking skills of Native Americans I feel like it will be fairly easy to find dancers and vendors to attend the powwow in the spring. I then took a couple of minutes to just sit down and watch all of the activity going on around me. There is always such an incredible amount of energy that flows around powwows and I love being a part of it. I was once told that the beat of the drum is like the heartbeat of Mother Earth, and it took me some time, but I finally understand.

♥ yay! Everyday

I love looking through websites that are a collection of artists that contribute their work to be seen by everyone. The artwork can range from photography to sketching, and they create this wonderful collage of eye candy. One of my favorite sites like these that I was recently introduced to is As if the title isn't cute enough, it never ceases to amaze me with its original artistry that sparks my imagination.  Here is a small sample of some of the most recent images posted:

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sally Mann

     Sally Mann is an American photographer who was born in 1951 in Lexington, Virginia. In the documentary entitled "What Remains", viewers are given a glimpse into not only her creative process, but also a great deal of her personal life. It is made evident that her photographic works and personal life are deeply intertwined. Sally Mann initially was launched into infamy for her photographs of her children. While she was named one of America's Best Photographers, she was also highly criticized for photographing her children nude. They were very strong photographs and one could almost feel the connection she had with her children, but they could also be interpreted as dark and controversial. Personally, I feel that the images are simply beautiful.

     "What Remains" is also the title of one of her shows which the documentary follows in detail as it becomes close to an obsession for Sally Mann. Viewers are left to question her madness as she photographs decomposing corpses, but her passion for her subject matter is undeniable. Her intention was to bring to light the undeniable nature of death, but also to create an appreciation for the life that exists around us. It was an extremely interesting concept, and I could understand why it would be one so hard to sell to galleries. I definitely respect Sally Mann for putting so much heart into her work and having faith that her idea was one that needed to be seen and heard. Many artists may have moved onto work that would have proven more profitable, but I feel like it is a sign of a true artist to stay loyal to an idea they are passionate about.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Winter at Washington Park

Last winter (2009-2010) I took a trip in the freezing cold to take pictures with my friend Charlie at Washington Park, which is just right outside of the University of Denver campus. I was still learning how to use my camera and thought the experience would be helpful, and I liked the way the ice ended up looking. Here are some photographs from that day!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Roadtrip 2010

In the summer of 2010 I took a roadtrip with my mother through Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia to go visit family in Atlanta. The trip turned out to be a lot of fun with a lot of wonderful scenery, and we got to stay in New Orleans for a bit and see the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana. Here are some of the pictures I took along the way!
The Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana

Louisiana Marsh
Seashells on the Beach
The French Quarter in New Orleans

Wishing Fountain in Atlanta

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Denver Botanical Gardens


One of my favorite subjects to take photographs of is definitely flowers, simply because I think they are so full of rich colors and unique shapes that the eye is naturally drawn to them. My first week in college, I took a trip to the Denver Botanical Gardens with one of my classes, and I took a lot of really wonderful pictures of not just flowers, but also the beautiful ponds they have there. I was so happy that the flowers were still in bloom and the weather was perfect that day. These continue to be some of my favorite pictures!