Knowing my affinity for spiritual iconography a few weeks ago longtime design buddy, Gail Anderson introduced me to Jorge Vargas, owner of the popular Justo Botancia a longtime fixture in East Harlem neighborhood. For over a year Gail has researched, interviewed and documented owner Vargas’ on the symbolic meaning of the package designs he’s created over the years for numerous religious Santeria products such as candles, oils, scents, and more sold in his shop.
A short excerpt from Justo Botánica Is Good for the Soul by Gail Anderson
The only connection most people have to Santería is Ricky Ricardo pounding on the conga drum in old I Love Lucy reruns. “Babalú, Babalú Ayé,” chants Cuban icon Desi Arnaz, bow tie loosened. Four decades after my first Lucy episode, I have learned that Babalu Aye is the name of the West African orisha, or intermediary between God and man, that translates to “Father, lord of the earth.” Ayé is renowned for the control he exercises over disease and healing, and he is among the most powerful deities in the African and Caribbean spiritual traditions. Babalú is not just a nostalgic TVLand reference. He is an essential figure in Santería. Read more: Justo Botánica Is Good for the Soul — Imprint-The Online Community for Graphic Designers,
I must admit to being a big lover of home cooked Indian dishes. So Yesterday I stopped what I was doing, sat down with a big cup of minty tea and listened to WNYC’s talk show host Leonard Lopate’s spectacular interview with Madhur Jaffreyand Suvir Saran, chef of Devi. Both chef’s Jaffrey and Saran talked at length breaking down the basic fundamentals of making delightful home cooked Indian Meals and the importance of using the freshest of vegetables and spices. Madhur Jaffrey shared her new cookbook, At Home with Madhur Jaffrey: Simple, Delectable Dishes from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lankatelling listeners how easily it is to prepare Indian dishes and tips on the foods from various regions from the north to the south of places like Karala and Goa.And Suvir Sara talks about his India Cookbook, a comprehensive guide to Indian cooking with over 1,000 recipes. Both cookbooks are rich and steeped in traditional style of home cooking, and after listening you too might come away with a better appreciation for some of those aromatic dishes you love to eat. I’ve been a long time lover of Madhur Jaffrey’s cooking and this new cookbook is a must have addition to my expansive cookbook library. And if what she say’s is true about these recipes being better than the typical NYC’s Indian restaurant, I can’t wait to delve deeply in to test her tasty recipes. In the meantime I’ll sample a few recipes listed on the NPR’s website, since I simply love coconut rice pudding. I’ll whip-up that dish up first.
GLIDE10: Fabiola Berdiel + Cynthia Lawson Development through Empowerment, Entrepreneurship, and Design presenters brings us up-to-date on Parsons School of Design ongoing mission of incorporating social responsibility in to learning processes as applied to several design disciplines such as product, architecture and more.
One great aspect of Parsons School of Design program is there hybridity of bringing students together from various disciplines to share information to build stronger coherent knowledge bases. The challenge is instructors function as facilitators, this mode of teaching forces the students to take a more interactive role to immerse themselves fully in there projects, and learn new platforms of studying beyond formal and informal methods of learning. Students also have the opportunity to acquire primary research through traveling to developing/emerging countries and explore various modes of practices while interacting with local people, investigating new materials and methods to enhance new ways of design thinking. This provides the student with practical and hands-on experiences to build a diverse dialog rooted in social and cultural constructs not available by just sitting in a classroom or surfing the internet.
Questions: I’m curious how the outcomes are measured by the students each semester? When the students interact with other cultures through travels, how does this figure into the collaborative process? How do these other ethnic cultures respond to the presences of your students?
I love the concept of students taking on the role of facilitators as a shared experience with this projects. How does this method evolve from semester to semester? Do the students view themselves as real agents of change? If so what are some of the outcomes?
What are the draws backs of the participatory process in this model of learning?
Justine presents signboard communication in Asia. Objective is to improve technology design in the future, through better design and visual typography by integrating green design concepts.
What is phenomenology and phenomenography?
How will Justine apply theories of postmodernism to her research? Last year while visiting Macao, and Hong Kong, Beijing I was able to experience the density of signboards on many streets.
How are signboards in Asian countries different than the busy exterior signage in NYCs Time Square?
Below images from my travels last January to Beijing, Hong Kong and Macao the streets are brilliantly lite-up with signboards. One thing to consider is the amount of energy generated to keep these signs glowing day and night. Brilliant concept Justine’s offers alternative materials such as legos parts, old computer boards, and small car toys to develop more efficient signboards.
She offers interesting keyword: bricolage as main methodology.
If you’re thinking about exploring one of the numerous Manhattan trendy farm-to-table restaurants you might consider trying Northern Spy Food Company, and yes it’s named after one of New York State’s heirloom apples. It’s located in Alphabet City at 511 East 12 Street, a brisk walk from the “L” train stop on 1st Avenue. Despite being open only little under a year the place has mustered a strong following from the neighborhood locals. One might easily miss this restaurant if it were not for a barely noticeable small wooden shingle protruding over the front door, in an old style stenciled hand-lettering that serves as a distinctive marker. In front a set of cerulean blue benches offer extra sitting for the overflow of customers waiting to grab a table since the restaurant does not accept reservations. The facade of this locale is a reminder of the lower Eastside ethnic historical past.
When I arrived around 6ish to meet my group the place was empty with plenty of tables to be had, within an hour the chatter had elevated to that of a loud bar room banter. Sitting at the small bar a cheery bartender offered me a menu with a list of refreshing cool drinks to ebb off the hot summer heat. I settled for a sparkling Cucumber and Mint drink knowing this combo would quench my thirst. The restaurant is small, cramped with square butcher block tables. Although, I can’t help but to conjure up a picturesque scene ripped right from the pages of a New England 1950s mystery novel, right down to the vintage floral and stripped cool colors of blue and green wallpaper, the white washed slated walls, and the softly dimmed lights. Even the brass toilet paper holder in the bathroom was stamped with the word, “captain”. Compared to the restaurants appealing web site and the vintage interior decor featuring reclaimed furnishings, the design of the menu was rather drab. Lacking the stylish zest of the interiors cool color schemes.
In the areas of fiber arts and performance art, one name reins supreme: Nick Cave. Not to be confused with the musician, Nick Cave, the fiber/performance artist creates“sound suits” from found objects, including beads connected like tiny seeds of creativity, glass or plastic pieces strung together to form intricate patterns that suggest Brazilian or Caribbean carnival themes. These suits might also be layered with twigs and flowing hair, which from a distance looks like trees dancing in the woods, from some weird fairy tale.
This Cranbrook Design school graduate—who also serves as chair of the Fashion Design Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago—has created new artistic boundaries as he adapts old with new art techniques. With a unique mix of fibers and other materials, he has produced furniture, clothing and much more. This new relationship between contemporary art, crafts, and fashion was evident in the 2007 “Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting” exhibition mounted by the Museum of Art and Design.
Soundsuit: This funky style is made of a diverse collection of found objects.
But this movement of sorts almost didn’t happen.
Sometime in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, the interest in knitting started to fade, followed closely by the dwindling number of yarns shops throughout New York City. Today, knitting has emerged as a viable fiber art form, with a different twist that leans towards free-form, stylized garments, or products that are a combination of materials. These materials feature a mix of fibers with varied textures, as well as found objects from nature, even buttons or beads.
Cave’s work has forced other fiber artists and artists in other disciplines to reexamine their own material references. Whether you have the experience of witnessing Cave’s suits in performances, or as immobile figures in a gallery, you can still experience the sound and visual dialogue his pieces provoke. His work speaks to viewers with a cacophony of sounds heard over and over again.
Nick Cave's "Soundsuits" at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York City
Cave had previously danced with the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. One day he began to pay attention to the cacophony of sounds that came form his costume, which was mostly made of twigs. As he moved his body, each twig bushed against another and produced barely audible but regular sounds. Similar sounds came from other dancers who were gyrating to the beat of accompanying drums.
He had found a muse who would inspire his new art form—himself.
His canvases of his own or other dancers’ bodies expanded to include skintight leotards, to loose fitting garments with deep hoods. His materials now include beads, bangles, and sequins. No objects are off-limits; nor any subject. He has pulled together references from the social and political issues of the day, using for example, his own state of blackness as a silhouette; and in a nod to the Rodney King trial, a piece that expresses the freedom—or lack thereof—of the black male body, this time tied with materials that look like rope. The most ornate work can resemble over-sized deities, similar to spiritual figures from the African Yoruba tradition, or the BrazilianCandomble.
Nick Cave is represented by theJack Shainman Gallery in New York City.
Did you ever finish a meal, then found yourself running your fingers around the rim of the plate to pick up the last remaining “juices” of your meal? This was my experience after Scott and I dined on Peking Duck.
Liu Ye, our Hotel concierge suggested the best restaurant for Peking Duck, and it was a worth while 20 minute walk away in the cold. Located in a glitzy mall on the fifth floor, this hyper-stylized restaurant was much like those I frequent in NYC. The three or four women hostesses gave us the once over, then politely escorted us into the dining area to a table in view of the raised gazebos glass shaped kitchen. Inside, about 10 chefs were busily prepping the ducks, and more leathery Peking ducks were hanging from overhead hooks. I counted four wooden stoves. Other utensils included long carving knives, and sharpening stones, in addition to the hanging poles. At one point I got closer to the glass kitchen to take photos of the cooking technique used. I noticed that each chef wore a surgical mask as they worked. I later learned that this was a common practice throughout China of chefs who worked closely with food preparation. The setting looked like a stage for some ritualistic practice.
We could not stop looking. One chef took a duck out of the oven, then broke off its beak, then sanded the skin to remove any excess hair and ashes. Our curiosity prompted us to take turns grilling the waitress about the preparation.