Honors in the Arts Cohort 2015-16
JUSTINE DESILVA | The Third Twin
BA Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, Minor in Creative Writing
The Third Twin is a two-act play about the intersectionalities of identity within a white nuclear family of four. My goals for the piece have been to not only explore the concept of ‘whiteness’ and the tendency for those who are confronted by their racial privilege to deflect to their personal hardships as an eclipsing factor—but also how attempting to disavow or delegitimize privilege can have a destructive influence on the family unit. The play centers around the female twin, Cameron, who is suffering from undiagnosed depression, and the fixation that the parental characters have on their own working class upbringings and their shared ‘pick yourself up by the bootstraps’ mentality. The play, using a nonlinear narrative in which the scenes are layered on both a backwards and forwards timeline, follows Cameron’s increasing debilitation and her parent’s active denial of her illness.
MARK FLORES | Unburial
BA English, BA Human Biology, Co-Term MA in Sociology
Unburial is an attempt to reach back through time and reclaim my Chinese America. When early Chinese immigrants first came to the United States they would bury their dead only temporarily; years later, they would return to the grave, exhume the bones, and send them back to their families to be properly cared for and reburied. It was a labor of love, respect, and honor.
Through poetry, I am hoping to locate myself and my family amongst a collective history that still remains in the ground. Burial is only one way that we cope with loss, but it is not the end of the grieving process. How can you move past a trauma if you cannot even speak its name?
Drawing heavily from ideas of cultural trauma and from the field of ethnic studies, Unburial is a collection of poetry, photos, and documents that attempts to connect back to a time beyond my own memory and grasp at the shadows I see but can’t touch. It is a genealogy project on a personal, racial, and national scale that asks why cultural memory and history become lost in the first place. It remains a labor of love and a labor of longing.
BA Philosophy and Religious Studies
How is play central to what we call culture, religion, sex, language, and wisdom? How does the more-than-human world express itself as play? This collection of short prose/poetry pieces explores an imagined universe of strange games. There’s an obsessive anthropologist investigating the games of another world. There’s a child waiting in a cardboard box in the forest. There’s a milkman of the future dangling on a wire above the city heights as he watches the sun set.
ALEX MUSCAT | Tous Dans La Même Direction (All In the Same Direction)
BA Comparative Literature, Minor in Middle Eastern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
“Sound is a tantalizing phenomenon that simultaneously discloses and hides a great deal about its origins. Sound is the perfect sign for artists but a maddeningly imprecise one for logicians; it points without confirming and suggests without asserting” -Hal Foster
Tous Dans La Même Direction (All In the Same Direction) is an album that explores the multi-faceted identities of Muslims in Paris. The source material for the music comes from field recordings and interviews that I conducted during the summer of 2015. At times ethnographic and elsewhere impressionistic, I strove to bring the traditions of electronic music and musique concrète into a specific cultural context. Tous Dans La Même Direction is an experiment in the imaginative potential of music, in the use of melody and space as a terrain for encountering otherness.
BRITTANY NEWELL | OOLA
BA Feminist, Sexuality, and Gender Studies, BA in Comparative Literature, Co-Term MA in Modern Thought and Literature
OOLA is the story of an itinerant writer named Leif whose attentions towards a charming conservatory drop-out, Oola, take a strange and dangerous turn. Set largely in Big Sur, it is a novel about artistic obsession, sexual intimacy, contemporary queerness, the confines of gender, and the fine line between desire and possession, set for publication by Henry Holt (US) and Borough Press of HarperCollins (UK) in 2017. OOLA seeks to complicate the age-old notion of the artist and his muse, and to present an honest (if perturbing) portrait of young love and the ensuing wish, in turns romantic and savage, to break the body down.
GREESHMA SOMASHEKAR | Melted Jaggery: Narratives of Birth and Beginnings
BA Human Biology
Melted Jaggery: Narratives of Birth and Beginnings is a collection of spoken word poetry that explores attitudes surrounding birth/parenting, social variations in the management of pregnancy/labor, and the effect of these belief systems on decision-making and behavior in clinical settings. Content is loosely based on a series of fifteen conversations with Bay Area families and providers, with an emphasis on the childbirth narratives of marginalized communities. The goal is to complicate what is too often simplified or altogether erased from conversations about labor and delivery in the media, policy, and Western medicine.
My poems are loosely based on a series of conversations I've had with Bay Area families and healthcare providers. Melted Jaggery culminates in a performance and discussion for an audience of medical practitioners, students, and patients at Stanford Hospital in Spring 2016.
JULIA STARR | Cacophony
BA Communication, Minor in Theater and Performance Studies
I am writing a full-length play set on a commune in the 1990s, exploring gender, sexuality, and leadership. Rooted in research on the counterculture movement and the falsely-progressive (and often misogynist and patriarchal) culture of communes, the play explores structures of leadership in these nominally egalitarian spaces. Following the reintegration of one member after a failed escape to New York, Cacophony attempts to answer the question: “What happens when we realize that we’ve outgrown the identities we regularly inhabit and perform?”
By constructing alternate realities and larger-than-life personas, queer people have long used performance as a way to escape their otherwise disenfranchised lives. Using drag as a starting point for inspiration, Designer Drag includes an academic paper and a line of designed and manufactured products that explore the potential of furniture to construct empowered "diva" personas for consumers. The line seeks to subvert gendered design norms and blaze a queer aesthetic in design that is opulent, celebratory, and strong.
LENA WRIGHT | Indigenous Interventions
BA Art Practice, Minor in Education
This project produces public pieces that focus on individual issues that are present within indigenous communities of north america, specifically within Native American tribes.
By altering places and objects to relate towards these issues, I hope to create dialogue and acknowledge the historic trauma of the past while also celebrating the triumphs of the first nation people of America. The objects altered and created are books, reflecting upon the past history and the present possibilities. The altered places are locations on campus, and made to include more tribal influences. Finally, I combined ideas and places into murals that will be displayed within the Native American community for the public to see and confront the issues in visual and invoking manner.