Aliana Ho: We Thrive

Photo: Aliana Ho, Copyright 2021

 

Photography and Text by Aliana Ho, Copyright 2021

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We Thrive

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In all honesty, I had a hard time deciding what to do for this shoot. Choosing a good friend of mine to be my model and subject took little thought, but the matters of where, how, and when proved to be much more challenging than I anticipated.

We first met up on Saturday evening, but just as he had meticulously completed his look, one foot out the door, a small family emergency arose. We rescheduled for Wednesday night, and during this second attempt, we had spent about an hour and half working on our set and shooting when my camera battery died. Knowing I was running out of time, my panic began to rise.

Luckily, the next day, we were able to pick up a battery, get lunch together, and decide on a location. As we arrived at the Ardmore Ave Septa Station, our chosen set, we were met by an elderly gentleman who asked us to call an ambulance for him, as he needed a ride to the hospital. We then waited for said ambulance, said goodbye, and only then were we able to complete our shoot. And of course, this all occurred within two and a half hours.

We decided upon the Ardmore Ave Septa Station predominantly for the lighting, as it was the afternoon and the sun had already begun to drop in the sky. I hadn’t yet been to the station since they had completed construction, so I was curious to see what it looked like as well. Looking back, the fluid relationship of a train station was a fitting set for the chaos of this shoot.

When I recount these experiences, I can’t help but chuckle at the ridiculousness of it all. How could it be that every time we tried to complete this project, something would disrupt our plans?

But of course, that’s what we’ve come to practice. Our safety plan: adapt and survive.

During the past year, everyone has had to learn how to adapt. Adapt our health practices, adapt our social lives, adapt our emotions and feelings, adapt to survive. This piece came together under suboptimal conditions and in such a short time, but it felt easy after all the bumps we hit. Like this shoot, this year has forced us to face obstacle after obstacle, and still maintain a forward motion. So we adapt, we survive, and we thrive.

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About The Author: Aliana Ho is a student enrolled at Haverford College, Haverford, Pa. Class of 2022.

Posted in Architecture, Art, Blog, Cameras, Documentary, Engineering, Environment, Film, Haverford College, Photography, Student Life, Women

Sandy Ward Design: The Plus Room

Sandy Ward: The Plus Room, Copyright 2021

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It’s Time to Take it Outside

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Tired of being inside? Even after going out for a walk or to exercise do you really want to go back inside? Enjoy outdoor eating and happy hour with friends and family who can visit you outside. Add a heater or fire pit in winter and a sun umbrella in summer. Add plants like holly and bamboo for year round greenery. Add ambiance like lanterns and wall art. Too much sun, create a cozy feel with a retractable awning – let’s play, let’s dream, let’s create your personal outdoor Plus Room!

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Tiny balcony to expansive yard, ideas you will love to loll in.

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Sandy Ward. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2021

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About The Designer:  Sandy Ward is a renowned interior designer and builder based in Philadelphia. To learn more about Sandy Ward Design, click here: https://sandywarddesign.com

 

Posted in Accessories, Advertising, Affiliates, Announcements, Architecture, Blog, Contemporary Architecture, Environment, Friends of TWS, lifestyle, News, Philadelphia, Women

Sharon Wang: Love is a Decision

Photography by Sharon Wang, Copyright 2021

Photography and Text by Sharon Wang, Copyright 2021

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Love is a Decision

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“Ah, Moon – and Star!

You are very far – 

But were no one

Farther than you –

Do you think I’d stop

For a firmament

Or a Cubit – or so?”

The decision to love is never an easy one to make. It is a mutual commitment from each person that chooses to be in love. The story in this series exhibits a girl who is deeply in love. The setting is my room, where all my emotions are witnessed. 

Just by looking at the Polaroids on the wall saturates the room with the smell of sweets, the sound of laughter and the sensation of rising adrenaline. Love offers us the highest highs and it is the energy that gets people through the tedious work. It is the happy annoyance of choosing what to wear for a date. However, love is also a poison.

There is no way for two individuals to share the completely same emotions, and that is when miscommunication and disconnection comes into play. The sadness and disappointment that accompanies the fact that some of our love is not being echoed compels the individual to do silly things — like talking to stuffed animals, wondering what they are thinking, or using substances. Love sometimes loops us into despair. However, the only antidote of love is love itself. It is a touch, a kiss and being in the vicinity of the person on your mind.

After all, love is a decision that we make. It is a fancy trap that lures everyone that falls for it to enter the swirl of every possible feeling, but hey, it is love.

“But, Moon, and Star,

Though you’re very far –

There is one – farther than you – 

He – is more than firmament – from Me – 

So I can never go!”

— Poem by Emily Dickson, #240

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About The Author:  Sharon Wang is a sophomore enrolled at Haverford College, Haverford, Pa.

 

Posted in Art, Blog, Cameras, Current Events, Environment, Erotica, Film, Haverford College, Health Care, lifestyle, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life, Travel, Video, Women

Mikala Mikrut: Hot Thoughts with Hot Thots

Text by Mikala Mikrut, Copyright 2021 

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Hot Thoughts with Hot Thots

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Change has been one of the few constants in many people’s lives, myself included, as of late. Over the past year I: graduated college early, got two part time jobs, and obsessed over avoiding the virus that has consumed not only a staggering amount of lives, but our media and thoughts daily. Over the past month I: started a podcast with one of my best friends, quit one of my jobs to get a full time one, and was a passenger in a rear-ending car crash. All that to say, I’ve had to learn to not only be okay with change, but comfortable with it. Yes of course there is so much to fear in our world as we know it today, but there is still so much to look forward to. And while it may not feel like it at times, we are still in control. In fact, these turbulent times may be the best opportunity to initiate the change you’ve been craving rather than sitting back and letting the universe have the only say in how your today is any different from your yesterday.

Yesterday I chose, last minute, to spend some time running errands with my podcast cohost, Sabrina. Our new creation and bundle of joy (yes, the podcast) is called Hot Thoughts with Hot Thots, and it all started with a drink. Sabrina and I were sitting at a table in the courtyard of The Velveteen Rabbit, a bar in Las Vegas, feeling sorry for ourselves that we apparently chose to sit next to the heater that was only for decoration. We laughed over our recent turmoils, tried to make one another feel better, then landed on how proud we were of our friends who have started businesses and hobbies to keep themselves busy and creative…Well that sort of turned into complaining about acquaintances who seemed to be getting attention for things that Sabrina and I felt we could excel in. One of those things, happened to be podcasting. For years, we would stop mid laughing fit to ask ourselves why we didn’t have our own reality television show as we find ourselves to be quite the comedians.

Well this comedian stopped sipping her fruity, pink, sugar-rimmed cocktail when Sabrina asked, “Why don’t we start our own podcast?” When I back-handedly said “good for” the podcasting acquaintance, I didn’t actually think we would start a conversation on creating a platform for ourselves to prove we could do it better. We decided to talk about what we love most, our opinions. And while we always enjoy each other’s advice and quips, we were pleasantly surprised by the support of our friends from coming up with the name to the amount of listeners. We received over 100 listens before we even released a third episode! In our episodes, Sabrina and I ask each other a question, answer a couple questions sent in by listeners, and then ask the listeners a question for them to answer in the next episode. With such a simple formula, we thought it would give us plenty of room to be creative and hopefully stay fresh long enough to keep our current following as well as generate more listeners in the future.

This small change we made in our lives, to record a 30 minute podcast about once a week, has given both me and Sabrina something to look forward to. We talk to each other that much anyway, but the fact that other people want to listen to and support those conversations make us feel appreciated in a way we’ve never felt before. This past year has been so isolating that I finally understand the craze of YouTubers and why someone would watch a person they’ve never met simply play a video game. It’s not connecting in the same way our parents taught us, through hugs and play and being together. This type of connection touches you in a different way, it’s hearing your thoughts come out of someone else’s mouth or finding out that you’re not alone with your questions or problems. While we may not know all of our listeners personally, we feel the support, love, and understanding of each one. People are asking us questions that not only allow us to share the things we have been waiting to say out loud, but also ones that challenge our thoughts and what we say and have said.

So while change can be scary at times, it may be invigorating to respond to life’s unexpected changes by making a change all on your own. Buy that house, move to that state, date the guy, get to know the girl. Whatever change you have been debating, its outcomes may pleasantly surprise you. If you’re scared, go ahead and think about that worst possible outcome and then ask yourself, “Would I be able to handle that?” Because if the answer is yes, what is holding you back? An “oh well” is always more fun than a “what if?” In my opinion at least. Moral of the story: do the thing. You already have at least one supporter, me.

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FIRST THREE PODCASTS:

1.Bleached Thongs and Lady Songs

 

2. Better off Alone and Australian Moans

3. Save Your Money and Be Happy Honey

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About The Author: Mikala Mikrut is a recent graduate of Southern Utah University. To access additional articles by Mikala Mikrut, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/mckayla-mikrut-impeachment/

Posted in Affiliates, Announcements, Blog, commentary, Current Events, Erotica, Friends of TWS, Glamour, Health Care, interview, Media, News, podcast, Politics, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life, Women

An Exploration: Alabama Tenant Farmer’s Wife (Allie MaeBurroughs)

Photo: Walker Evans

 

Text by Aaron Graybill, Copyright 2021

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An Exploration: Alabama Tenant Farmer’s Wife (Allie MaeBurroughs)

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This report will explore one of Walker Evans’s most famous works, Alabama Tenant Farmer’s Wife (Allie Mae Burroughs) through historical and analytical lenses to uncover why the photograph is so powerful and timeless. I will begin with a brief biographical sketch of Walker Evans and the historical context behind Allie Mae Burroughs. Next, I will discuss how the medium and presentation of the photograph affect its impression on the viewer. I will then argue that this photograph is best viewed through the lens of “detail” as defined in John Szarkowski’s The Photographer’s Eye. Finally, I will then discuss how the other four lenses in The Photographer’s Eye come together to make this photograph as significant and emotive as it is.

Walker Evans: Biographical and Historical Context

Walker Evans was able to fuse the realism and rawness of the American experience with sophisticated and thoughtful photographic techniques that let the meaning of the images shine through. Walker was born in Saint Louis in 1903 and was interested in art in multiple forms for his entire life. Eventually, Evans turned to photography and found success working with the Resettlement Administration (RA)/Farm Security Administration (FSA). But to understand the significance of this work, it is important to first discuss why a government agency hired Walker Evans to document rural American lives.

The Great Depression left rural farmers particularly vulnerable, and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration sought to relocate farmers to areas where they could be more productive (which helped both the farmers and the economy at large). To incentivize these moves, the Resettlement Administration and later the Farm Security Administration hired photographers like Walker Evans, Dortohea Lange, and Marion Post Walcott to highlight the opportunities that were available to those who chose to move. Whether or not Evans and others followed the wishes of the RA/FSA, is dubious, nevertheless the situations the FSA contracts provided Evans were unique and historically important giving rise to Allie Mae Burroughs and other photographs like it.

A final note about the subject of the photograph. Allie Mae Burroughs was the wife of a tenant farmer. A tenant farmer, for context, was a farmer who farmed rented land and left some of the profits for the landlord. These farmers faced the challenge of not having property to fall back on during the Great Depression, so they were targeted by the RA/FSA because they were hit harder than most during the Great Depression.

Medium and Presentation

The photograph as displayed in the Lutnick fine arts center at Haverford College is a gelatin silver print that is 9.1”x7.1”. The gelatin silver print offers the print longevity and adequate gloss to accentuate the lowlights in the print. This medium is important because the texture on the background wall and patterns in the subject’s shirt benefit from the additional pop that the glossy gelatin provides. The print is also over matted with a beveled edge on the window which subtly draws the viewer’s eye in towards the subject while the large over mat gives the viewer plenty of space to see the print in isolation. The size of the print is worth noting as well. 9.1”x7.1” is not particularly large but still leaves enough room for the background to be seen in isolation. Additionally, the size is not so large that the totality of the image is hard to view.

The final component of the medium and presentation is the quality of the print itself. The print has strong contrast without making the subject or background seem unnatural. Without access to the negative, it is hard to say how the qualities of the print were achieved. However, the print may be burned in some areas (particularly around the subject) to make the subject stand out from the wall behind her.

“The Detail” in Alabama Tenant Farmer’s Wife

In John Szarkowski’s The Photographers Eye, he acknowledges that the photographer is limited in ways that other artists are not. Photographers are restricted to represent what they see, not what they wish to see. Sometimes, the setting that the photographer finds themselves in is scattered and inconsistent. The photographer is a curator and must decide which elements of the setting are worth including in the frame and which are not. Szarkowski writes about the photographer: “From reality before him he could only choose the part that seemed relevant or consistent, and that would fill his plate” (Szarkowski 2009, 42). Working for the FSA documenting the entirety of the American experience, “the detail” is immensely important. The world that Evans documented was inconsistent and fragmented, so selecting the parts that held together made for powerful photographs.

Alabama Tenant Farmer’s Wife provides little in the way of context which is why it is well suited to be analyzed through “the detail”. The subject is dressed plainly and is photographed directly against a wooden wall. The photograph does not provide any recognizable information about where the photograph was taken geographically. Furthermore, it does not provide any information about where the photograph was taken even on a local scale. The subject’s proximity to their background makes it unclear whether or not the subject is photographed at their place of residence, work (which was likely the same for a farmer), or worship. This creates an ambiguity in the image that allows the viewer to analyze the nuances of the subject and the background without analyzing its political and social contexts. However, the ambiguity creates universality and relatability. The background could be at anyone’s house and the enigmatic expression on the subject makes the photo both universal and timeless. The Met Museum describes the subject’s expression as having the “psychological ambiguity of a Mona Lisa” ( Metropolitan Museum of Art). In addition, the subject’s hair is somewhat unkempt, which heightens the organicness and relatability of the photograph.

Another component that heightens the effect of “the detail” in this shot is the use of depth of field. Both the subject and the background are in focus which allows all of the areas of the image to be viewed in isolation. The depth of field brings out the subtleties in the texture of the wood and the subject’s clothes. The viewer’s eye is not forced to a certain in-focus area and can peruse the details of the image at its own pace.

All of these components come together to make the image an experience that is meant to be felt, not dissected and make “the detail” the dominant characteristic of this photograph.

Szarkowski’s Other Four Characteristics

Now I will more briefly discuss how the other characteristics in The Photographer’s Eye can be applied to this photograph for a richer understanding of its impact. First and foremost is “the thing itself” which Szarkowski describes as the relationship between that which is actual and seen versus that which is captured in the photograph. The photographer must filter out certain things and accept that certain potentially unwanted things might be in the frame to capture other elements. Walker Evans, as previously mentioned keeps the subject close to his background leaving little room for external distractions in the image. Yet in the image, Walker is also forced to tell only one piece of the subject’s life. The subject is expression, physique, and clothing are what we have to go on, so Walker’s selection of this print must encapsulate some meaningful component of the subject’s life.

We already discussed “the detail”, so the next topic is “the frame.” The frame of this image does not draw too much attention to itself and the way the shot is laid out seems to suggest that the wooden wall continues for many feet in all directions outside of the frame’s boundary. I believe that this has the effect of making the subject feel like a small part of the scene and the world as a whole. However, the crisp portraiture allows for the details in the subject to show while using the frame to accentuate that there is nuance even in the unseen.

Szarkowski’s fourth category is “time” which I think is quite present in this photograph, albeit not in the usual way. Usually, images evoking a sense of time use movement and blur to show evolution over time. This image takes almost the opposite approach. Even without close inspection, this feels like an image from the Great Depression. The image captures a moment in time felt by all Americans, instead of the movement of one. In many ways, the Great Depression was a period where time stood still, and this moment, frozen in time captures that feeling in an ineffable way.

Finally, Szarkowski discusses “vantage point”. Usually, this is taken quite literally, as in when a photographer takes a picture from a physical place that is outside of the usual context we view the world. Vantage point manifests itself in two ways for me in this image. First, the RA/FSA put Walker Evans into situations where he was essentially foreign and saw the world from a very different perspective to those who lived there. This gave Walker Evans a unique vantage point for each of the photographs he took, even when shooting unadorned portraiture.

The other component of vantage point that I see is even more general. Walker Evans’s body of work for the RA/FSA gave other Americans a vantage point into the diversity of experience that their country held and still holds. The modern accessibility of photography both amateur and professional understates the power that Evans’s work held when it was first released. These photographs were some people’s only contact with rural America. His work captured a fleeting moment in time still sends a powerful message even 80 years on.

Citations:

Szarkowski, John, “The Photographer’s Eye,” The Museum of Modern Art, 2009

Wikipedia contributors, “Resettlement Administration,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Resettlement_Administration&oldid=101005462 4 (accessed March 20, 2021).

Author unknown, “Walker Evans (1903–1975),” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/evan/hd_evan.htm (accessed March 20, 2021).

Author unknown, “Alabama Tenant Farmer Wife,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/284685 (accessed March 20, 2021).

Wikipedia contributors, “Farm Security Administration,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Farm_Security_Administration&oldid=10044463 12 (accessed March 20, 2021).

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About The Author: Aaron Graybill is a junior enrolled at Haverford College, Haverford, Pennsylvania. Majoring in Economics.

Posted in Affiliates, Art, Blog, Cameras, commentary, Documentary, Environment, Film, Haverford College, History, lifestyle, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life, Travel, Women