2018: Michael Hull

 

We are proud to present to you the 2018 Emerging Artist
Michael Hull

 

The annual Ethical Metalsmiths Emerging Artist Award is chosen from the applicants to the So Fresh + So Clean student exhibition.

This year’s jurors were the 2018 members of the EM Students, Virginia Commonwealth University Chapter: Taylor Zarkades King, Anne Bujold, Everett Hoffman, Megan Wachs, Haiyin Liang with Guest Juror: Curtis Arima.


Artist Bio:

Michael Hull received a Bachelor of Fine Art degree at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), Indiana, PA in 2018.

 

Artist Statement:

My work is a response to the state of the world around me, specifically late-capitalism and the materials of the Anthropocene. Wastefulness abounds in this society built on convenience and commerce, and as a result there are excessive amounts of resources being discarded into landfills, oceans, and the spaces in which we live. In the streets, I find metal tobacco lids, bottle caps, and other rubbish, which I manipulate into forms representing the trash that is ever-present in the landscape. These “icons” of trash function as wearable jewelry objects, meant to be worn as badges of identity.

I also use these discarded metals to make more traditional objects of adornment, adding value and function to otherwise worthless materials. These brooches represent my anti-consumerist mentality, and are meant to question the perception of value. Ultimately, with my work I hope to raise awareness about the excess and waste of American consumerism.

 

Responsibility Statement:

As an emerging artist, I’m fascinated by how my artistic practice impacts the perception of objects and how materials are sourced for making objects. By using found and recycled trash metals, I’m concerned with bringing awareness to the abundance of waste caused from consumer products. Through using these found materials I’m able to challenge my practice by adapting traditional metalsmithing techniques and processes to create.

 

Coming next year is a follow up interview and new work.

 

2017: Katie Kameen

 

We are proud to present to you the 2017 Emerging Artist
Katie Kameen

 

The annual Ethical Metalsmiths Emerging Artist Award is chosen from the applicants to the So Fresh + So Clean student exhibition.  

This year’s jurors were the 2017 members of the EM Students Virginia Commonwealth University Chapter: Anne Bujold, Meg Wachs, Haiyin Liang, and Everett Hoffman, with guest juror Christine Clark.

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Artist Bio:

Katie Kameen finds herself surrounded by potential art materials as she searches for objects that have been discarded and outdated. By giving them another chance, these items preclude expiration by becoming interactive sculptural objects. Katie received her BFA in 3D Studio Art from Eastern Illinois University, and her MFA in Metalsmithing and Jewelry Design from Indiana University in Bloomington Indiana.

Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at venues including Galerie Marzee in Nijmegen, Netherlands, and Talente 2017 in Munich, Germany. Katie is currently teaching metals and digital fabrication as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana.

 

Artist Statement:

My sculptures are the result of discovering life in objects that have outlived their intended functions. I am interested in the potential of everyday objects to communicate with us, through us, and to help us communicate with others. I draw from my own experiences, relationships, and emotional growth to find new ways to communicate with old materials.

Our daily routines depend on an assortment of items. Our reliance on these objects becomes a source of both strain and neglect, causing us to value them less as they break down, and eventually discard them. Although they become forgotten, they remain imprinted with our memories. For this reason, my chosen materials originate from the 1950s to the 1980s, which coincides with; my parent’s lives and my early childhood. Old tools remind me of helping my dad in the garage or gardening with my mom, and vintage cookware reminds me of my grandmother’s kitchen. These recollections are triggered by both material and color. I use mid-century pigments, plastics, and fibers to create common ground between the dormant object, its past function, and the present viewer. As I discover the messages embedded in my objects, they transform into vessels of communication, each one bringing its own story and culminating with a larger abstract message. Instead of acquiescing to the end of their usefulness these items embrace their beauty, captivate our attention, and incite our memory and imagination.

I gravitate towards things that have or had a function; they are not purely decorative. Though they are no longer actively used, they continue to speak about our habits, and by giving them a new purpose they can simultaneously communicate their history and embrace their future.

I begin a sculpture with only an idea, or expectation, of its final form. I give myself the freedom to change the materials and alter them in a way that is unpredictable yet satisfying. By exploring how individual objects fit together and interact expectedly and unexpectedly the sculptures can begin to take form, and become redolent with growth, life, and even evolution. Mirroring our posture, they speak about vocation. Connecting and fitting together, they mimic human contact. Seemingly natural in character, the transformations reveal the meaningful relationship between objects and the entanglements of material and memory.

Spotlight Interview: 
We followed up with Katie 6 months later.

What events led to you becoming a metalsmith?

I discovered metalsmithing while I was an undergrad at Northern Illinois University. I took a class with Jamie Obermeier, and I really got drawn into the way that Jamie’s intro class balanced traditional metalsmithing with contemporary methods like carving acrylic and working with found objects. I always had an eye for detail and an interest in working with my hands, so I was hooked.  I transferred to Eastern Illinois University to finish my BFA and studied with David Griffin, where I became enamored with hand die forming, powder coating, and enameling. This exploration of color and surface, in combination with my existing interest in found objects, is really what lead me towards my current work.

 

What is the tool you love the most? If you could have one tool, that you don’t have already, what would it be? 

It may sound simple, but the most important tools in my studio right now are drill bits. My work is fabricated completely with cold connections. I try to use found items like old bolts and screws, plastic hangers, or old knitting needles to make connections. Since I need to perfectly match the diameter of these objects I can never have too many bits! Ironically, given all that drilling, I really need a flex shaft in my home studio, since right now I’m doing all this with a hand-drill.

 

Who are some of the artists you admire and why?

There are some artists that will always be important to me because they were so influential when I was first realizing that I wanted to be an artist, women like Tara Donovan, Judy Pfaff, Lisa Walker, and Susie Ganch. Lisa Walker’s work in particular really helped me see the importance of spontaneity in a studio practice, and encouraged me to break out of the traditional wearable mold into a hybrid jewelry-as-sculpture/sculpture-as-jewelry space.

 

After receiving the EM award, how have you considered ethical practice?

Obviously maintaining an ethical studio practice has always been important to me, but this award has really motivated me to reevaluate how that practice is being represented in my classroom. I’ve thought more about how I can encourage my students to be conscious of the impacts of their practice, and to show them how simple it can be to reduce waste. A few basic examples are that I’ve replaced our studio’s paper towels with shop rags, and set up a drying rack for sandpaper so that used pieces can be rinsed clean and used again. In my own work I’m working more purposefully with using found objects as elements of cold connections. I’ve begun to largely phase out manufactured hardware and metal rivets, trying instead to create pieces that are 100% found and recycled plastics.

 

What is the significance of wearability in your work?

Because my work recontextualizes functional objects, I think a lot about how my forms interact with the body. I like to take advantage of objects or parts of objects that we have prior experiences with—handles, spoons, or toys, for example—and use those memories to make something new or strange seem familiar. Everyday fashion has not been a major factor in my recent work. Instead, I’m thinking more about moving everyday objects into an elevated position, and experimenting with how literal or implied interaction with the body is necessary for that to take place.

 

How do you select your materials?

Although I use all types of plastics depending on the piece, I am most drawn to mid-century plastics. A major reason for this is the unique and vivid colors of plastics from that time-period. Color and surface are some of the first things that I consider when I’m selecting materials, since I work with pre-made materials and rely heavily on their original attributes. Size and weight of the objects also play into my decisions. Beyond their physically attractive nature, there are additional benefits to working with these materials. I can use older objects that may not be functional any longer. I find a lot of cups and plates that may be considered unusable because of a small scratch or crack, but are perfect for me. Also, a lot of the plastics from this era are not very easily recyclable– materials like Bakelite, Melmac/melamine, and polycarbonate– so taking them out of the waste stream is appealing to me.

 

What do you listen to while you work?

I enjoy listening to podcasts while I work, since it feels more like I’m accomplishing two things at once. Mostly I listen to podcasts about art, but I’ve also been listening to more about teaching. 30 Rock and The Office also keep me company while I work.

 

What are you reading right now?

Similar to the podcasts, I’m primarily reading for work rather than pleasure right now, so mostly books on teaching or metalsmithing. The Handouts from the 21st Century series has been a really nice combination of both, and is an amazing collection of information.

 

Dream job?

Like a lot of artist-educators, I think my dream job is to have a tenured position in metalsmithing. I’m currently a visiting faculty member, so I get to teach, work with students, and still have time for my own work. I am trying to be open to other possibilities though. Metals has really impacted my life, and I want to help others have the same access to this field that I had, and to encourage young people to develop and embrace their creativity. Right now I’m making that happen through my teaching practice, but depending on where things take me I would also be really interested in bringing my ideas to a gallery, co-op, or community center.

 

What’s next for Katie Kameen?

I’m excited by the ways that additive manufacturing can help minimize material usage, and by the ability to make whatever form I want out of bio-based and bio-degradable plastics like PLA. Right now I’m primarily working on creating small wearable pieces that compliment larger sculptures, and the idea of bringing my own 3D computer modeled forms into conversation with my found objects has been really exciting.

 

2016: Rebecca Lynn Hewitt

 

We are proud to present to you the 2016 Emerging Artist
Rebecca Lynn Hewitt

 

The annual Ethical Metalsmiths Emerging Artist Award is chosen from the applicants to the So Fresh + So Clean student exhibition.  

This year’s jurors were the 2016 members of the EM Students, Virginia Commonwealth University Chapter Kelley Morrison and Lucy Louise Derickson, with guest juror Stephanie Voegele.


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Artist Bio:

Rebecca Lynn Hewitt is a metalsmith and an emerging artist who recently graduated from The University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. Rebecca’s current work investigates environmental issues through wearable and handheld objects, as well as community engagement.  She works with sustainable materials such as pressed and dried flora, wood, and silver.

She was recently awarded the Harold A. Milbrath Award and the Mary E. Van Deven Scholarship. Her work was also recently exhibited at The 43rd Annual Juried Exhibition at the Union Art Gallery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During her time at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, Rebecca organized and participated in Object Contemporary Craft Jewelry Sales, attended Seared ’15 and the Yuma symposium, and was Program Manager for the Studio Arts and Craft Centre. In 2017, Rebecca will be one of the resident artists at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.

 

Artist Statement:

Plant, Protect and Preserve is a series of work that developed from research on the “special concern” category of the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Working list, which contains all of the plant species that are known or suspected to be rare in the Wisconsin. The “special concern” category is for species that may be in need of concentrated conservation actions, or that face some problem of abundance/distribution. This series is composed of three necklaces that approach the issue in a wearable and welcoming way that encourage reflection and education. The necklace series is paired with active community engagement through both public art workshops and giveaway plantable necklaces. In the community workshops, participants create recycled newspaper planters, biodegradable collection pouches, and flower presses.

I am aware and thoughtful of each of the materials I choose to work with. The pressed flora included in Preserve and Protect are from a Baptisia Tinctoria plant that I planted and pressed myself. By designing and milling the wooden components and purchasing locally sourced wood that is the correct the height of each piece, I’m able to cut back on waste. I also save all wooden scraps to use for my production line, Flora and Grain. The To Plant necklaces are made from recycled envelopes and cotton thread. Overall, I’m actively seeking to have a more ethical metalsmith and find that through simple awareness, I’m able to reuse materials, avoid harmful processes, and repurpose found materials.

 

Spotlight Interview: 
We followed up with Rebecca 6 months later.

What events led to you becoming a metalsmith?

I’ve always loved working with my hands and making objects. In my sophomore year at Peck School of the Arts, I took my first metalsmithing class and fell in love with the challenges metalsmithing gave me to solve. I love that I’m able to study metalsmithing everyday and will never run out of things to learn!

What is the tool you love the most? If you could have one tool, that you don’t have already, what would it be?

I appreciate all of my tools, but my favorites are my saw frame and calipers.

Right now I work out of a small home studio and a community studio space. I love the balance of having a personal space and tools, partnered with a communal studio space where I can access tools that I don’t need on a regular basis/are expensive. Although I’d love to personally own some larger equipment, it’s not really necessary right now…I’d love to have a really solid wooden stump or beam.

Who are some of the artists you admire and why?

I really admire Natalie Jeremijenko’s work because of the way she seamlessly connects community, science and art. I also admire Iris Eichenberg’s work and appreciate her understanding and use of materials.

After receiving the EM award, how have you considered ethical practice?

Receiving the award was such a great honor. It really challenged me to consider ways in which my practice can improve. It’s made me more aware of conversations surrounding trying to achieve a more ethical practice and how overwhelming it can feel. I’ve been working with the Ethical Metalsmith’s Student Committee to start an Instagram to encourage conversation around these topics.

What is the significance of wearables in your work?

Wearable work is important in my practice because it allows challenging and overwhelming topics to be more accessible and conversational through the body.

How do you select your materials?

I research what exists, how it’s made, and how to safely use it. Selecting materials just takes time. It’s definitely something that can ALWAYS be improved on.

What do you listen to while you work?

It really depends on what part of a project I’m on. Sometimes I really enjoy the sounds of the studio. Sometimes I listen to podcasts – my favorites are Call Your Girlfriend and An Organic Conversation.

What are you reading right now?

I’m currently reading Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit.

Dream job?

My practice!

What’s next for Rebecca Lynn Hewitt?

I’m starting a residency at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft in March! I’m really excited to be making around and hopefully with my community. I’m also looking forward to collaborating with other artists this year!

 

2015: Soohye Park

 

We are proud to present to you the 2015 Emerging Artist
Soohye Park.

 

The annual Ethical Metalsmiths Emerging Artist Award is chosen from the applicants to the So Fresh + So Clean student exhibition.  

This year’s jurors were the 2015 members of the EM Students, Virginia Commonwealth University Chapter: Lucy Louise Derickson, Kelley Morrison, Morgan Babic, and Carli Holcomb, with guest juror Renee Zettle-Sterling.


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Artist Bio:

Soohye Park is a Korean born visual artist who holds a BFA in Textiles from Seoul Women’s University, and Metals from California College of the Arts, and recently earned her MFA from University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is particularly fascinated by symbolic associations in objects and materials that could arouse emotions and empathy in others, beyond words, and through the heart.

Currently, she primarily utilizes seemingly discarded or neglected second hand jewelry, and investigates their lost value, histories and emotions, alongside her own visceral attachments to them. Her work aims to evoke the poignancy of the ephemerality of life, versus the intangible remnants of things that we encounter and accumulate throughout our lives.

 

Artist Statement:

I’m fascinated by the fact that such small objects of jewelry can possess such potent sentimentality and attain so much emotional weight, beyond their aesthetic pleasure. Rings especially have more of the characteristic of their owners, and more symbolic associations within people’s relationships than any other form of jewelry.

In my recent body of work, Memori Ephemera, I use second hand rings from estate sales and vintage shops, to investigate the lost value of the seemingly disregarded and neglected—not just their physical, aesthetic value, but also their emotional qualities, which once made them precious. At the same time, there is a poignancy in the idea that things cannot last forever and must one day be passed on, or forgotten and left to fade into obscurity, much like the relationship between life and death.

I see my process of making: collecting second hand rings, fabricating them by flattening and fusing, into material such as silver sheets or nuggets, and recreating a new piece, as strongly related to ethical practice. I also hope that my work of taking once valued rings—embodied with lots of histories and memories and which have lost their old identities—and recreating something new out of them, like a simple silver plate, could create a dialogue about our behavior as humans of consuming, abandoning and forgetting things.

 

Spotlight Interview: 
We followed up with Soohye 6 months later.

 

What events lead to you becoming a metalsmith?

I’ve loved making things by hand since I was little. I previously studied Textiles, because I loved the warm sensitivity in it. After encountering a metal sculpture show by chance, I realized metal could be warm like textiles, depending on how the artist treats it and that moment led me to become a metalsmith.

What is the tool you love the most? If you could  have one tool, that you don’t have already, what would it be?

It is hard to choose one specific tool. I love all my worn out tools that I have been using. One thing immediately comes to mind is my bench pin with lots of file marks and holes that shows signs of use.

It might sound absurd, but this is something that many people in this field might have dreamed of. I wish I had one more hand that could resist heat, so that I could hold a piece with my third hand while I’m soldering.

Who are some of the artists you admire and why?

There are lots of jewelry artists who I admire, such as Iris Bodemer, whose work has a spontaneous quality in interesting forms and unusual approaches to creation; Iris Ichenberg, whose work raises sensitivity; and Dorothea Pruhl, whose work is primitive and humble, yet spiritual.

In terms of art in general, I admire Doris Salsedo’s mute yet reverberant work, which touches me so much, even before I knew the traumatic history of Colombia, the main influence on her work. I admire the empathetic power in her work itself beyond words; it comes from the heart and that is the thing that I’d like to achieve in my work.

After receiving the EM award, how have you considered ethical practice?

I became more aware of ethical practices in many aspects of my daily life, such as minimizing water and energy use and choosing less toxic chemicals. These are actually very simple yet fundamental practices. I’m growing some air purification plants in my home and studio. I’m unsure of how well they function, but the greenery is great. It makes me feel good and reminds me more of ethical practices. In my studio, I began to collect not only silver scraps, but also non-precious metal scraps, and I separate them for easy recycling. Also, I try to create things out of the scraps and during the process, I often find unexpected new possibilities and forms. 

Also, even though I don’t use many other materials besides metal, mostly recycled silver, I became aware of the importance of acquiring the right information and being educated about material resources.

What is the significance of wearables in your work?

I don’t take much account of wearables in my current body of work. Rather, I have previously considered the heaviness of work is important to convey the idea of burden. (Now I think the physical weight doesn’t imply emotional weight.)

I appreciate one of my colleagues’ comments on the teardrop-shaped pendant, made with lots of second-hand rings: “It is very uncomfortable to put it on my body, not because of its fit, but because of the fact that I’m holding so many rings once belonged to others, the unknown memories, the embodied emotions.

How do you select your materials?

I take in ordinary objects and materials and try to find meanings and emotional values in them that might be understood and shared socially and/or universally. I started paying attention to discarded jewelry as material for my current body of work for those reasons. Also, it was quite a visceral response to them. The jewelry displayed at a vintage shop or estate sale, and piled on a scale, evokes feelings of poignancy and sympathy. Although the memories associated with the jewelry might be different and unknown, they convey universal symbols and emotional values that could arouse empathy in others. Also, I mostly use rings because I consider that they have more of the characteristics of their owners, and more symbolic associations within people’s relationships than any other form of jewelry.

What’s next for Soohye Park?

I currently work in my studio near my home, which is a small space with a bench, a table and a few tools and machines. After graduate school, it was a little difficult to adjust to the new circumstances. But, now I’ve gotten better and feel comfortable working in my studio alone. My working speed is slow and many of the pieces that I explore go to scraps, but I know that is my way of working in my studio. I just try not to be impatient.

My next project is developing my current body of work, investigating new materials and hopefully gaining more recognition in my work.

What do you listen to while you work?

It depends on what I’m working on. However, when I work on my current body of work, “Memory Ephemera”, I mostly listen to New Age music or emotional music that helps me be sentimental and contemplative.

What are you reading right now?

Contemporary Art and Memory by Joan Gibbons

Dream job?

Full time Artist + Foster for abandoned dogs

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014: Joshua Kosker

 

We are proud to present to you the 2014 Emerging Artist
Joshua Kosker.

 

The annual Ethical Metalsmiths Emerging Artist Award is chosen from the applicants to the So Fresh + So Clean student exhibition.  

This year’s jurors were the founding members of the EM Students, and the first Virginia Commonwealth University Chapter: Lucy Louise Derickson, Kelley Morrison, Jane Barton, and Brian Fleetwood. 


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Artist Bio:

I am an artist, designer and metalsmith from Western Pennsylvania.  I received my BFA in Studio Art from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2011 with concentrations in Jewelry/Metals and Painting. 

My work has been exhibited both regionally and nationally.  Most recently, I was named recipient of the Society for Midwest Metalsmiths 2014 Merit Scholarship.  I am currently completing my MFA in Jewelry Design and Metalsmithing (May 2015) at Bowling Green State University where I am Instructor of Record for the First Year Program 3D Workshop.

 

Artist Statement:

My studio practice is not unlike my ability to overcome personal addiction – I take it one day at a time. Even if I don’t accomplish anything aside from sweeping the floor today, at least I have a clean basis to start from tomorrow.  I am much more interested in the physical worth of a material and how it relates to applications within my work as opposed to projected extrinsic value. Metal carries a certain amount of history where scratches, dents and dings are scars and signs of use (oftentimes misuse), and polished fragile surfaces become witnesses to change and reformation. These are the foundations for my studio practice and the undertones that define my work.

In my recent work, I aim to distort the preconceptions of form and function in the conventional sense, both to subvert utility and construct new meaning. I think and communicate through creative visual understanding of structures and symbols from a playful sensibility of material and meaning making.  Built on satirical, somewhat absurd notions of what craft is and what it means, the work becomes a visual conversation that questions validity and intent.

In my most recent series of brooches, I combine memory foam with repurposed silver-plated brass holloware. I am interested in the symbolic (associative and suggestive) nature of hollowware and its ability to both reveal and conceal, while giving structure to the shapeless. The salver, historically a symbol of dignity and high society, is dismantled and then reconstructed with familiar elements and forms to create new narratives of personal value and self-worth through body adornment. By salvaging and encasing the memories of the past between layers of metaphorical cultural consumption, I am laying those former abusive practices to rest while simultaneously breathing new life into wearable objects.

 

Spotlight Interview: 
We followed up with Joshua 6 months later.

What was the catalyst to your decision to become a metalsmith?

I took an intro metalsmithing class during my sophomore year at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and immediately expressed an affinity for working with metal – it felt really intuitive. I initially responded to the malleability of the material, however, my ability to control the material in new ways is an ongoing dialogue that fuels my desire to continue exploring the field.

What is the tool you love the most? If you could have one tool, that you don’t have already, what would it be?

That is a tough question to answer. I like torches. Hammers, saws and drills are great, too. But, I love my hands. Since I currently don’t own a torch, I’m looking to purchase a Swiss torch in the near future. It’s a versatile tool that can accommodate a lot of applications, including my precision and interest in both large scale and small scale soldering.

After receiving the EM award, how have you considered ethical practice?

I try to recycle and preserve the everyday, both in my studio practice and the time spent in between. I am mindful of the expressive potentials for materials that I encounter through my day-to-day routines beyond the studio setting. I don’t discount the communicative abilities of any material, especially byproducts of daily consumption – organic and artificial. I am intent on creating a globally resonant vocabulary by preserving and re-presenting more widespread ephemeral matters in my studio work.

What is the significance of wearables in your work?

I am interested in ideas of transition in relation to the utility and lifecycle of wear-ables. The body is important in my work, both as a vehicle for altering the material and as a site for display. Initially transformed through daily use, the materials I am currently exploring convey a physical, intimate relationship between owner and object. By reinterpreting the work as jewelry, the materials lose their original function, but not the associations made manifest in their transformed wear-able state. For the wearer, I hope to re-embody a sensual experience, a recollection, about everyday moments often overlooked.

How do you select your materials?

I often select materials while in the shower or walking around in obscure places. At the moment, however, I am contemplating the possibilities of an orange peel … from the tangelo I just ate. I collect materials that break down, wear out, and are otherwise discarded – often in the form of detritus encountered and manipulated in everyday activities. Soap, worn shoe soles, the peels – these materials are naturally evocative, and embody suggestive visual and tactile information. I often pause to study these things for their de-formal qualities, surfaces and textures. I scatter this stuff throughout my studio – rearranging piles of materials and playing around with compositions. Sometimes all it takes, however, is a bit of de-composition to make a finished piece or a new discovery.

What’s next for Joshua Kosker?

I am applying for several residencies, fellowships and teaching positions in the coming months, while developing my graduate thesis exhibition and instructing ART 1120 – Media Studio: Space and Time. Following commencement in May, I want to continue to make my work in whatever capacity possible. A goal is to hold a professor position at an academic institution while continuing to develop and exhibit my work. At the end of the day, I want to fix up a house in the mountains, build a personal studio, and write music on the side.

What do you listen to while you work?

I prefer listening to music … preferably loud. Right now I’m listening to M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. The sound of a rainstorm now and again would be nice, though.

What are you reading right now?

The Poetics of Space and Thinking Through Craft

Favorite movie?

Shawshank Redemption

Dream job?

Architect

Preferred pet?

I don’t usually like cats, but if I had to pick any animal to have as a pet, I would want my brother’s cat, Pickle.