Spotted at: College Ave, Oakland
Occupation: Graduate Student
What do you do?
I'm a grad student—I just started my master's program at California College of the Arts. I'm doing the Critical Visual Studies program, which is art history meets art theory, meets sociology. So I just get to write about visual culture!
Any ideas of what you'd like to do with it?
I'm not sure yet though it's super versatile, which is exciting. I have a background in activism and would definitely like to bring the critical skills I'm learning to the people and engage them for the better, so we'll see.
Did you do undergrad at CCA as well?
No, I actually did undergrad in Oregon, and I'm originally from Sacramento.
What have you been up to today?
Today's been so busy! I went to work this morning at the National Institute of Art & Disabilities (NIAD) in Richmond. I help manage a printmaking studio there for adult artists with developmental disabilities.
You must have some great stories from working there. Have you been working there for a while?
I just started working there; I just moved to the area, just started school, just got a job—so it's all brand new. I usually come to this cafe and camp out with some homework, which is my plan for this afternoon.
Fun stories about NIAD . . . you hear the artists say really great and interesting things. One of my favorite artists who works there is this older woman named Darlene and she gets her hair done every Wednesday and talks about how “If someone doesn't like my hair, they can go fly a kite! They can go fly. a. kite." She is all about having her hair done. It's really sweet.
Is there anything that's been on your mind lately?
Yeah. We've been reading a lot of theory in my program. I'm taking this really phenomenal class called identities, which is taught from a feminist standpoint and we've been learning a lot of queer theory and race theory. I think the very boiled down sentence about what I'm contemplating is how to enact these ideas in an accessible and thoughtful way; just how to live very conscientiously. Being in a place of privilege, meaning someone who gets to go to school—what do you then choose to do with that education? This is what's on my mind; even with decisions at home—striking the balance between being thoughtful in my personal decisions and realizing how much those decisions have a political scope. I think I'm just getting my feet wet in the world! [laughs] And coming out of undergrad and being in a city for the first time ever . . . it's a lot all at once! It's a bit overwhelming.
I'm sure! What has been the biggest change for you?
Public transit! [laughs]
What about it?
Just using it to get everywhere. There's at least two connections to get anywhere, nothing is direct. It's about learning what works for you. It's a little bit expensive, so you have to learn how to manage it in your budget and how to manage it with your time; I'm not used to having to leave the house 75 minutes early to get anywhere.
How did you typically get around in other places you've been?
In Oregon, I was in Ashland. It's a really rural little town. Rural-ish—it has the Shakespeare Festival. I lived across the street from campus and the whole town was maybe four miles long. You could walk everything. San Fran's what, only seven miles long? But it feels a lot bigger. It's really difficult to get anywhere! It's just a lot to get used to. There's a lot of bodies and a lot of coordinating! Nothing is small scale.
Any current obsessions?
I'm learning to embroider and that's been super fun. I have a denim jacket that is the victim of all of my learning. I think I'm going to go with bugs. I have a beetle on one collarbone and I'm going to do a bee on another and maybe some flora, but mostly fauna.
How did you get into embroidery?
I worked as a graphic designer for the university in Ashland last year, and my boss was a pro embroiderer. She made these beautiful materials and we traded embroidery lessons for ukelele lessons.
Have you played ukelele for a while?
Yeah, and we kept one in the office so she could learn. I've played a lot of music for a long time and just finally got my instruments in my house in the last week so that's been really nice.
What other instruments do you play?
I'm obsessed with my 3/4 Ibanez electric guitar. I'm looking a lot to St. Vincent— she's one of my all-time favorites—and trying to learn more instrumental, more classic blues riffs, learning the theory behind blues music so that I can apply it to my own writing.
I wanted to ask you what you're wearing since that's why I stopped you!
I bought this scarf yesterday at H&M.
It's a great color!
Yeah, it's got this great floral motif. This green of my jacket is kind of my uniform in the winter, so I have to coordinate everything around that. It's from the Gap, it's at least four years old. The sweater is just thrifted, and then I think these are shitty Forever 21 leggings.
Those socks are fun!
The socks are from Target and these shoes are from ASOS.
What about your earrings?
These are rose quartz plugs. I've found more of these stone plugs online than I have in shops. And the dangly earrings are from H&M as well. My ring is moonstone. I got this in Berlin at a street cart. I decided to go by myself to Berlin a couple of years ago to document the Biennale, which is a big art festival. I ran out of money and was stranded in Berlin for a while [laughs]. I was 19. I didn't speak any German, I didn't know that where the Biennale is held is actually much farther from Berlin than I thought, and I just didn't budget properly. By the time my next paycheck came in I just bought a plane ticket and came home!