Asian Pacific American Heritage month is celebrated in May where we honor the histories of Americans from Asia and the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Polynesia, and Micronesia.
According to Torchinsky, the legislation designated May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month because of May 7th and May 10th.
May 7th, 1843 is when the first Japanese immigrants arrived to the U.S., and May 10th, 1869 recognizes the completion of the first transcontinental railroad, which heavily benefited Chinese workers, in the United States.
To celebrate, we are recognizing several Asian/Pacific American artists over the course of this month, honoring both them and their work and discussing how their work has influenced our country today.
Possibly the most influential of these artists is Maya Yin Ling.
Maya Yin Ling is an American architect and sculptor who resides in Athens, Ohio. Her style is very minimalist and post-minimalist as she explores Earth-related and environmental art.
Lin was born to Chinese parents who fled China in 1948 as the Communist takeover was beginning to take place. Her mother was a poet and a literature professor at Ohio University and her father was a ceramicist and the Dean of the School of Fine Art.
In 1977, Lin graduated as co-valedictorian of her high school and began studying architecture at Yale university. Her final year at university would be the kick-off of her artistic career as she entered a competition to design a Vietnam Veterans Memorial for Washington D.C. Her design was chosen amongst the other 1,400 entries. The jurors found that her design was both fascinating and simplistic, something that would hopefully not cause an uproar.
The memorial forms a V-shaped wall created using polished black granite panels of two 246-foot-long wings that begin at ground level at each end, gradually growing to a height of 10 feet at the V’s center. “Lin set the memorial into the landscape, enhancing visitors’ awareness of descent as they walk along the wall toward the center. The names of the Vietnam War’s 57,939 American casualties (and those missing in action) incised on the wings (in order of their deaths) contribute to the memorial’s dramatic effect” (Fred Kleiner). The dark, polished granite allows viewers to see themselves in the monument as they reflect
According to Lin, she “wanted to work with the land and not dominate it. [She] had an impulse to cut open the earth… an initial violence that in time would heal. The grass would grow back, but the cut would remain.”
However, this was not Lin’s only work, or the last time she would work by changing the environment. In 1995, Lin created The Wave Field, an outdoor sculptural installation which focuses on the fluidity of water. She studied the dynamics of fluid, aerodynamics, and turbulence in order to achieve the outcome she was seeking, which was to mimic the forms of a naturally occurring wave. She did this by altering the earth and grass to get this effect.
“Lin continues to look at the environment as she progresses as an artist,” writes Laura Fiesel. “She creates important installations that use elements of the natural world, always focusing on landscape.” She continues to make art and installations that do not rival Earth’s natural beauty, but that work with it.
To continue with our saga, we must look at the next song on the album, “Numbers.”
“Numbers” feels a lot like a classic Weezer ballad. The melody reminds me a lot of something that would come off of the Red album. The way Rivers shouts is in much resemblance of a Pinkerton song, but without the aggression behind it as you might would find in a Pinkerton song. The lyrics are very poetic and reaches the audience on a meaning that a lot of people today can understand.
According to genius.com, “Numbers is a song about every person’s discontent with their inadequacies and flaws, and how none of those things really matter as much as they’d like to think.” This can be supported by the lyrics “I’m a one, I’m a zero / In the end, does it matter? / All we even really know / Is every nail needs a hammer.” It also shows the feeling of incompetence as we as a society are constantly looking at the social lives of other people on social media, as shown by “Look at him, look at her, they’ve got a million likes.” In the end, it doesn’t matter how many likes a person gets. They are all just numbers, some not even really there. A lot of what we think about ourselves, when compared to other people, is all in our heads.
The next song is “Playing My Piano,” which is about the escapism Rivers Cuomo feels when he plays his piano. The song basically explains its meaning, as we see Cuomo neglect his everyday activities because he becomes so absorbed in playing his piano alone in his room. This song gives us as listeners an inside look at what Cuomo is like when writing his music: messy hair, drinking coffee, white-noise playing in the background, etc.
The thing about “Playing My Piano” is that is sounds so much like older Weezer. The melody reminds me a lot of something like Unspoken from the Hurley album or even “Unbreak My Heart” from Death to False Metal. The chorus, where we can find Cuomo belting out about playing his piano, is a lot like the chorus from “Unbreak My Heart.” The tonal range Cuomo has is phenomenal and this is one of the songs where we can really hear what he is capable of with both his writing and his vocals.
Up next on the album is “Mirror Image.” This song is very shorts, and acts as more of an interlude. It actually reminds me a lot of the interlude from the Sam’s Town album by The Killers, aptly named “Enterlude.” Both sing about heaven and being together, though they are focused on different people. While “Enterlude” focuses on being with the audience, “Mirror Image” is about Cuomo’s undying love for his wife and how they will always be together, and how he fears death for they won’t be together when they die.
The song is very sweet and, in my opinion, is unlike any Weezer song I have ever heard. It starts out strong and loud until it dies down into a soft outro, which could potentially be a metaphor for their life together. We see how passionate Cuomo is when it comes to his wife, elaborating that “she is my mirror image / showing me who I am,” as if Cuomo is incomplete without her around. It is definitely a personal favorite of mine.
So that concludes part 2. I hope everyone is enjoying breaking down, what I think is, the best Weezer album out there. Weezer never fails to make a good album, but every song on OK Human is a masterpiece.
Watch out for part 3 of 4 where we will discuss the next three tracks, coming next Tuesday!
Greensboro College senior, Jaylen Walker, put up his senior exhibition on April 19th, 2022 in the Anne Rudd Gaylon Gallery in the Cowan Building at Greensboro College. The show will be up until May 7th.
“Diving Into Planet Earth” shows audiences that Jaylen Walker represents “the ecosystem using [his] own newly learned artistic skills and knowledge of egg tempera and watercolor painting,” as stated in his artist statement. Walker elaborates in his statement on the effect of human wastes and neglect toward the planet earth and how we tend to forget that other creatures besides ourselves inhabit this planet. He depicts environmental awareness and practices using paint.
Walker used primarily egg tempera and watercolor. In his work. “jellyfish,” the layers were achieved by “working quickly and repeatedly going over a certain spot with the egg emulsion,” as stated. His works were also influenced by the psychoanalytic theories of sublimination as he began to notice repetition in his actions and thoughts.
In his senior exhibition, Walker’s pieces consist of paintings of sea creatures such as jellyfish, rays, and orcas. Walker chose to paint sea creatures because, according to his artist statement, “sea creatures take the most impact within the forgotten studies of proper rules and respectful actions towards the ocean and planet earth.”
He states that he found a connection in his art to his own personal thoughts about the ecosystem and found that they were very similar to artist Maya Lin’s earthworks and how “she describes her attempts to integrate her work within each space and topography.” Because of this, most of her works are about being within nature or changing the environment in itself. For example, her wave field in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which is literally waves in a field of grass – so the environment itself has been changed.
To learn more about Jaylen and his works, please visit the Anne Rudd Gaylon Gallery inside the Cowan building of Greensboro College!
Congratulations, Jaylen! Greensboro College will miss you dearly and we can not wait to see what the future holds for you and where you take your outstanding artistic abilities!
Greensboro College senior, Jonathan Abney, put up his senior exhibition on April 19th, 2022 in the Anne Rudd Gaylon Gallery at the Cowan building of Greensboro College. The show will be up until May 7th, 2022.
The name “Mind Your Manners” stems from Abney’s love of alliteration and from the idea of “minding your manners” being something that parents say to their misbehaving children. “My commonly known disregard for social norms is a trait most can probably recognize from the way I act publicly,” says Abney. “I feel as though I present myself as a very childlike and carefree individual, so it fit right in with what I wanted to display in the gallery.”
Abney’s show consists of both digital and traditional artworks, but mostly digital. His show consists of mostly self-portraits with the occasional piece of a friend or of characters he has made.
Abney found himself experimenting more this year with traditional pieces and seeking new horizons. “Traditionally being only an artist familiar with pencil sketching and inking, the distinct lack of variety within my artistic palette made me feel inadequate compared to my other more artistically gifted friends. Personally, it was impossible for me to believe myself to be a ‘real artist’. An artist who challenged themself past their arbitrary limits. And this interpretation led me to disregard what I had achieved.”
According to Abney, his show has given him the opportunity to convey himself for himself. He found that painting with acrylic paint allowed him to work against its flow, rather than just making art with it. He found that working with the medium was not that he misunderstood it, but that he just misunderstood the process; something he has since learned to embrace.
To learn more about Abney and to see all of his works, please visit the Anne Rudd Gaylon Gallery inside the Cowan building of Greensboro College! Or visit Abney’s Instagram which will be linked below.
Congratulations Jonathan! Everyone here will miss you when you graduate and we can not wait to see what the future has in store for you and your fantastic art!
On January 29th, 2021, the American rock band Weezer released their fourteenth album, “OK Human.” This album is hands down one of the best albums of our entire lives, and I am not just saying that as Weezer’s number one fan.
So, I am gonna break down every song on the album along with the album cover and tell you why everything about this album is so perfect.
The first song on this album is “All My Favorite Songs.” It starts out with this wonderful violin and lead singer’s, Rivers Cuomo’s, angelic voice lamenting about how all his favorite songs are slow and sad. This song is relatable on a whole other level for many people. Someone like my mom, who I joke with often about listening to the most depressing music, found this song to be one of her favorites from the album as she relates to Cuomo’s own music tastes. The song expresses a feeling of guilt in relation to personal feelings, as can be expressed by “I love parties, but I don’t go, then I feel bad when I stay home” and “I wanna be rich, but I feel guilty, I fall in love with everyone who hates me.” The feeling of guilt for not wanting to do anything, especially after being stuck in a pandemic for a year by this time, was all to real for many people and I think Cuomo really captured that in his lyrics. Not to mention that the rhythm of the song just flows so well with everything. I think choosing the violin as one of the main instruments for this song was a smart decision as it gives off that somber but very intellectual sound that you will find present in most of the songs on this album.
“Aloo Gobi” is the second song on the album. The ending of “All My Favorite Songs” continues into the beginning of this one, something that you will find repeated with every song as they all flow into each other in order of the album. “Aloo Gobi” expresses the feeling of not wanting to be around anyone and hating the “same old dull routines.” “Aloo Gobi” is actually and Indian dish made with potatoes and cauliflower, a dish which Cuomo and his wife Kyoko would eat as they find a movie to watch at their local Aero Theatre. Genius.com describes the song as “an ironic take on what Cuomo at the time saw as a boring, dull routine” but has now learned not to take those repetitive moments for granted as the quarantine has shut those moments out of his life during that time. Cuomo says, “when I wrote it, I was just so bored with my social life, but I really took it for granted. That’s all been obliterated now and I sure do miss it! The joke was on me.” This song taught me not to take those small moments for granted, some moments I can’t ever get back.
“Grapes of Wrath” is one of my personal favorites from the album. Each line tells a snippet from certain books such as Lord of the Rings and Moby Dick. The song is about Cuomo finding tranquility in audio books as if he is exploring whole new worlds. The title of the song refers to the 1939 John Steinbeck novel with the same name. The song stemmed from him unable to sleep one night, so he laid there listening to an audio book and the next day, went to write songs in a half-asleep daze, something he commented that people like Thomas Edison and Quincy Jones got their greatest ideas when they were also dozing off during work. The song gives this surreal feeling of escapism as we can picture exactly what is going on in Cuomo’s mind. The line, “Frodo jonesing for the ring,” gives us as listeners the exact replication of Frodo from Lord of the Rings and his desire for the ring by the end of the third book. Along with the violin playing in the background as I have stated before, the song feels very intellectual and like Cuomo knows exactly what he’s talking about.
There are 12 songs total on the album, so for each post I will talk about 3 songs. Expect part 2 of this saga to come out next Tuesday! Feel free to debate in the comments and talk about the album and the songs!
Anna Leporskaya’s “Three Figures” painting was on display during an abstract art exhibition at the Yeltsin Center in Yekaterinburg, Russia. The painting is of three faceless figures that are positioned to be facing the viewers.
The painting was ruined by a 60-year-old security guard on his first day on the job when he decided to take a ballpoint pen and draw eyes on the faces. He had said he was bored after his first day. The unnamed security guard has since been fired.
The painting, originally worth roughly $740,000, will costs roughly $2,470 to restore the painting. The Yeltsin Center confirmed that the painting will be restored easily and can be fixed without any consequences to the painting.
The company that hired the security guard is also allegedly going to be paying for the damages.
So recently, I’ve been trying to complete some video games on my Nintendo Switch to save space, and one game that I’ve decided to come back to was Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. I know, I know, the concept itself sounds pretty insane and don’t even get me started on the guns. But despite all of the abstract choices, THIS game has to be one of the most notable Mario games in the past century, and it wasn’t even developed by Nintendo. It was created by Ubisoft (and Ubisoft France respectively) as purely a game meant as a love letter to the Mario series.
Regardless of where it came from, what makes this game so noteworthy? Well there’s plenty to talk about there but for today I think its biggest strength is its portrayal of the residents of the Mushroom Kingdom. Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Yoshi are main playable characters in the game, each with their own Rabbid counterpart who is also playable. And if you know those four characters, then you know how you’d expect them to act. Mario is a mainstay character, taking charge of any situations present with the utmost bravery. Luigi is entirely fearful of the situation that he’s in but still manages to put his foot down. Peach, while usually being kidnapped, is now fighting back with her own royal spunk. And Yoshi is willing to protect his home against any threats while spouting “Yoshiii!” gleefully. The ability of replicating personalities that perfectly fit these four who have not had much characterization in any of their mainline games is a feat in itself.
But where the characterization really shines is in their Rabbid friends. They all are perfect dramatizations of their personalities and it’s ABSOLUTELY amazing! Take Rabbid Peach for example, the posterboy (or girl) of the game. She’s a sassy diva-like character who acts as if she’s got the world under her feet and is obsessed with her phone as much as she is with Mario. Her character makes for a very funny character to watch unfold as well as humorous just to see do anything. My favorite Rabbid has GOT to be Rabbid Yoshi, though. He acts completely primal and finds destruction to be a fun little game.
What’s more is that you see this in characterization EVERYWHERE in the game, from the character menus, to their in-game animations. I remember this one moment in a boss battle where Rabbid Yoshi was captured and if I aimed at the boss who was holding him, Rabbid Yoshi would hold his hands up and I loved every second of it. It’s truly a gift knowing the Mario franchise and then seeing cute portrayals of these standard characters be given such life. And it’s not just about who these Rabbid characters are, but what these counterparts say about the originals that make it funnier.
This game has been on my radar ever since I first heard about it, and while I was skeptical at first, it truly did surpass my expectations and I would recommend it to people who don’t usually play Mario games. It recently was announced that it would getting a sequel next year, so please, if you ever have the time, check this game out and play it. What I’ve talked about is just one small piece of the bigger pie here.
Platformers are games where the main appeal is moving a character in a space to get through levels. In this sense, think Mario or Sonic, where the focus of one is his jumps and the other is his speed. Sounds pretty simple and can be but it can also be much more memorable than that. A Hat In Time is exactly that! Taking clear inspiration from platformers that came from the 90’s, it’s a journey where you move a small kid known as Hat Kid through many different worlds to get Time Pieces, for Hat Kid to get home. The game was made by a small company named “Gears for Breakfast” who got crowdfunded by fans of the genre and while usually games that go through that process don’t end up that well, Gears For Breakfast followed through with their plans! The game isn’t perfect but the personality of the game shines brightly like a diamond in the rough. Through the logo alone, you can tell it’ll be a journey to be had.
The goal of the game is to collect hourglasses known as “Time Pieces” to help Hat Kid get home. First, you go through Mafia Town, a small island that is overrun with big burly men who constantly refer to themselves as the “mafia”. Their design is based on mafia men in Italian culture, albeit a very goofy interpretation of them. They wear an apron, blue suits, sometimes a red tie and they’re bald. They don’t do much to stick out from one another which may very well be the point, ringing true to an actual mafia. But they are nice ways to incorporate what an enemy is to Hat Kid. They tend to only bully the residents and Hat Kid in small ways but also are admirable in their own way, attacking you when you’ve attacked them and are willing to talk to you in some cases.
On the note of designs, Hat Kid’s is a very unique one. She wears a mostly purple attire which definitely helps differentiate her from other 3D Platformer mascots. A top hat with a coat, it has a distinct yellow cape and an oversized zipper, beige pants and little brown boots. If you weren’t really looking at her, it would all feel natural. But that’s the brilliant part, none of what she’s wearing feels out of place, despite her being a female. Often in cases like these, the main female character has a bow, a dress and other accessories that make her feel like a little girl. But Hat Kid feels comfortable to look at while not wearing traditionally known female clothing. And just like most of the other designs within this game, it portrays exactly who that character is. Like Mustache Girl for example, she’s a small girl in the game just like Hat Kid, which makes you feel safe but when she decides to fight against you for the rest of the game, you realize she’s the exact opposite of you. She has the same distinct yellow features as you but wears red to signify her more oppressive and rude undertones.
I’m only talking about the character design but I promise there is so much more to love about this game. From the worlds, to the music, to the even cuter details down the line, it all comes together all to help you love what many loved about older games before it. And I’m so happy this game is much more than just a homage.
On May 7th, Greensboro College celebrated their class of 2022 during their commencement ceremony! Four of Greensboro College’s art majors graduated including Eric (Jonathan) Abney (BA), Destinee Allen (BA), Elizabeth Hawkins (BFA), and Jaylen Walker (BA)!
Congratulations, guys! You have made Greensboro College proud and we can’t wait to see where life takes you!
Have you ever been REALLY good at something but then you start to feel that you’ll slowly lose the ability to do it? That’s a common issue with most artists or really anyone who creates consistently. But the magic is that there may not be thousands of others who think the same as you do. (And mostly you may just be judging yourself and your work too harshly) For big gaming companies like Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft though, this IS the case. And one of the games of Sony’s smaller companies is what I want to focus on.
Released in 2002, Ratchet and Clank made its way to Playstation systems as a platformer created by a gaming company known as Insomniac. It had plenty of planetary personality and put Insomniac on the map for its games. Fans from all over loved the 1st game, and the two sequels coming right after all the same. But it’s around 2007 where the series took an interesting turn for rebranding and remaking which deterred from what fans expected. Then there was the 2016 movie/game (which also decided to rebrand and remake the origins of the characters. And THAT deterred from what fans of the older games wanted out of a modern game… And it all led to last year, where Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart released. It was a game that was loved for many reasons, mostly being that the game was the best looking one in the entire franchise. In addition, there was a female version of Ratchet (the main protagonist) named Rivet that was a welcome concept to fans of the game. Before it was released, people were pretty ecstatic about the potential the game had. But considering all the past tense used in the last few sentences, you can probably guess where I stand on it.
But let’s back up a bit. WHAT makes fans dislike these newer R&C games? Or because I don’t know any other fans of the series personally, what makes me dislike the newer games?
Well, it’s simply the substance the games have now. Before, the game’s story and characters had bigger meanings. Ratchet was a rough edged selfish killing machine that was evened out by the level headed mechanical Clank. Their characters were explored through how they interacted with one another and others from the planets they visited. The game is a shoot-em-up, so a ton of time is spent mindlessly destroying robots which culminates nicely with Ratchet’s “hit-now-think-later” attitude. And on top of that, there were plenty of jokes about commercialism and consumerism that really brought home the idea that the galaxy needs your money which gave reason for why you, the player, have to buy. But of course, I don’t think those are the just the parts that made it compelling. Gameplay, presentation, and especially MUSIC were truly things that made the older games an experience to be had for many of the series’ fans.
And now I can properly rip apart Rift Apart. Do you remember those mentions of “rebranding and remaking” I had talked about before? Well it’s BECAUSE of those events in the series that this entry took a turn to be the most bland and uninteresting installment yet. Now, before I go any further with mindless complaints, let me explain: I am a fan of the series but I don’t have a PS5. I don’t know what made the original trilogy great because I barely even played them. Hell, the first game I owned from the series was Tools of Destruction, which was the BEGINNING of the series’ downfall. I say all this to say that I am not the greatest advocate for centralizing an opinion of this game. I feel I may be a little too disconnected for anything I say to be truly taken to a point of seriousness. And I want you to understand where I stand. I watched a whole playthrough of Rift Apart, listened to the soundtracks of both the older and the newer games and have seen plenty of opinions of the series’ decline from what it once was throughout these last few years. If you want to hear someone who actually knows what they’re talking about when it comes to these games, please watch TheGamingBrit’s video here. (Which is where some of my prior points on the original series originate.)
As for me, I’ll be focusing on things that as an outside insider of the series I can definitely point out. Such as the story, presentation, music, and characters. Now, let’s talk about the unfortunate changes that Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart brings.
Starting off with the music, it’s not great for a Ratchet and Clank game. This is going to be a big criticism of the entire gaming industry, where there is an unnecessary amount of orchestral music. The oversaturation of this probably stems from media such as films and such. Where instead of a dedicated soundtrack, its score consists of mostly just unrecognizable notes and melodies. However, don’t get me wrong: The soundtrack is AMAZING! The composer, Mark Mothersbaugh, is recognizable for many of his works before (The Lego Movie, Thor Ragnarok, and a few other shows) and has done a wonderful job in terms of setting the feel of whimsy in space. But his work is more fitting for a big time movie, rather than a Ratchet and Clank game. None of his work in this game captures the punch that should’ve stayed from the previous entries. They added a great unique feel of that planet, but the movie orchestra that’s in the game all melds together. I actually took a look at the WHOLE soundtrack for this game and it blew my mind that I could only find two noteworthy pieces, “Meet Me at Zurkie’s” and “Blizar Prime’d and Ready”. But those themes are just memorable as standalone tracks, their relation to the game itself doesn’t impact it the way it should. The music attempts to use some specific instruments to sound “spacelike” while the soundtracks before all used different instruments and kept that feeling throughout all its tracks.
And considering the rundown I gave earlier about the characters before, let’s jump into those next. And just like the music of the game, there is a distinct lack of real punch to the personalities of the characters. ALSO just like the music, they all tend to muddle together. There are no distinct personalities to any of the characters, considering how Ratchet no longer has anything special about him other than having a more “adventurous” attitude than Clank, who doesn’t really have any of his snarkiness that set him apart from just being robotic. (Other than one special moment near the end of the game.) And the new addition, Rivet, doesn’t really do all that much either. Despite what some reviews have said, she is sadly nothing more than a simple gender swap of Ratchet with trust issues. All of her character specifically stems from her arm, which is pivotal but it’s way too simple a motivation.
Kit, Clank’s counterpart from another dimension, does have a genuine personality that rubs off pretty well with Ratchet’s overall nice and inoffensive attitude. She’s one of the only characters that have flaws that are recognizable, which are prevalent to her disregard for others. And she does have a pretty simple story arc but it is nice to see SOMEONE that isn’t constantly a hero by heart with a nice and marketable face. But it’s the lack of actual character that makes this story stakes matter a lot less than they should. For example, one of the main villains of the series, Dr.Nefarious, takes a present given to Ratchet and transports him and our heroes to a dimension where he’s won against Ratchet. Near the end of the game, they meet both Nefarious and his dimensional counterpart, and he was an instant threat the moment he appeared on screen. He does so much evil in the short time that he’s present and made me feel really pumped to see some actual danger from a character.
But it ends with him being beaten in a way that feels anti-climatic, and goes down just like any other boss. His defeat is treated the same way as a Disney villain and shoved off to the side for our heroes to meet their by-the-books ending. It’s odd really. Because beating the big bad at the end of some games should feel much more emotional than what’s presented. It isn’t impossible for someone to feel something towards it but I don’t think the game achieves the heights it believes it does.
Regardless, Ratchet and Clank as a series has become a lot less intuitive and imaginative as it was before. From having characters that felt so important to characters that only act important, the series has lost a lot of the spark it had, especially narratively. And I can only hope that some major changes come to the titles proceeding this one, but I don’t think I’ll hold my breath on that one. They’ve kept Ratchet this cuddly for years and it may be just where the series is forever on… But fans can only hope for better. One last note is that I was definitely dumbfounded when this game somehow got a Game Of The Year nomination. But I guess the qualifications of those award ceremonies definitely don’t account for the game’s core issues. Well, as always… Until next time!