Up In The Air Somewhere
By Rammy Lee Park. Photos by Collin Hughes
Susan Dwyer’s studio sits appropriately on an industrial corner in the West Loop neighborhood of Chicago. “I’ve always been drawn to very functional, very large shapes,” she says, pointing out a looming water tower, striped with ladders. Chicago’s renowned lake front skyline are in the background here. What interests Dwyer is the factory, the water tower, the warehouse.
Dwyer, who attended the Art Institute of Chicago, was making large scale installation art when she decided to try tackling smaller, more tactile objects. This was a few years ago, but it hasn’t kept her from looking up.
She shows us more of her favorite neighborhood structures, including a set of mottled arches supporting an overpass and cylindrical silos, pierced by small, square windows. “They’re almost ugly,” she admits with a smile, “but the challenge is to get them to their smallest, purest form.”
The fruits of this challenge, one she clearly relishes, are the heart of Up In The Air Somewhere, her collection of ceramic and papier-mâché vessels. Inside her sun-filled studio, the shapes that dot the skyline around her take softer, gentler form.
Short, ceramic water towers, painted a rich gray, cluster before a window. Small, slightly leaning cups, arranged in rows, seem to patiently await their turn to be dipped into bright rubber. While much smaller than their outdoor counterparts, these vessels feel substantive even while fitting neatly into your palm. Her papier-mâché pieces, light as a feather, are lined with gold, giving them a contrasting visual heft.
Dwyer works without molds, so each piece is individually crafted by hand. As a result, no two vessels are alike. While this yields one of a kind results, it also means a large part of her design practice is born out of mistakes in the studio.
“Working in ceramics can be heartbreaking,” Dwyer says with a sigh. She can work for hours on a piece only to have it come out of the kiln with a tiny speck on it. Unable to throw these out, they lie around the space, awaiting her careful consideration. She picks up a small dish and points out a tiny blue spot. “It could always become something,” she says.
Maybe even a little piece of the Chicago skyline, distilled.
Ready, Set, Graduate.
One recent morning on my way to work, my train felt different somehow. Nestled here and there within the usual scrum of commuters were excited faces in caps and gowns, bursts of bright satin on an otherwise typical morning. Their numbers grew with each stop, hues of crimson, marigold and royal purple packing the train. I noticed the baby blue of my alma mater and remembered my own graduation: huddled under an umbrella with my parents, listening to Tony Kushner tell me how it is, how it would be, and what I could and should do about it.
The only real certainty in the life of a recent graduate is a life in flux. The next few months are a series of brand new beginnings: new job, new city, a new place to live. And while it may not be the best time to be graduating, it’s still an accomplishment worth celebrating. Doesn’t every new beginning deserve a little send-off? With sixteen different gift options, a Wantful gift book is particularly well-suited to the vagaries of post-graduate life. You choose the items that speak to various possibilities, they choose the one that fits their new path best.
Transitions are hard, but one way to make it easier is to include a few upgraded versions of college staples. We love these glass water bottles from bkr so much that everyone in our NYC office recently ordered them. They’re an elegant, long-lasting, and clean-tasting update to school-logo emblazoned plastic. Or how about some art for their bare walls? This limited edition archival print of vintage Atari games is not only a worthy replacement for dormitory posters but a nostalgic reminder of a beloved pastime. No thumbtacks necessary.
Speaking of bare walls, offer a few housewarming options. I love these air plant pods, which offer high impact style for low maintenance care. Just a little spritz of water and you’re done. A new set of towels might also be appealing, considering their last set probably did the rounds at a communal bathroom of some kind. These are made in Kerala, India, as part of an initiative to save the traditional handloom industry. Even if they’ve had enough of books for now, The Picture of Dorian Gray belongs on a higher-ed shelf. This one cleverly masks an iPhone/iPod charger and you can choose from an assortment of syllabus-worthy tomes.
New jobs call for new supplies, and your employed graduate might enjoy this elegant and sustainable iPad case. Die cut from recycled wool felt, it doubles as a viewing stand. For those with a low-tech approach to their work, this leather field sketchbook is great for taking notes on the run. There’s no reason not to include both so they can decide the best fit for their new job.
Finally, all work and no play make for a dull post-graduate life, so include a few options that are all fun, like this home brew kit. It comes in six different flavors and includes everything they need to make their own Hefeweizens or IPAs. Traveling is also a common option after graduating, and if they haven’t spent a semester abroad already, they’ll have need for a few basics. Include a passport case, a new messenger bag, a leather camera strap—because who knows all the places they’ll go? Only they do, so let them decide. They’ve earned it.
Here is an essay version of class notes from Class 10 of CS183: Startup. Errors and omissions are mine.
Marc Andreessen, co-founder and general partner of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, joined this class as a guest speaker. Credit for good stuff goes to him and Peter. I have tried to be accurate. But note that this is not a transcript of the conversation.
Class 10 Notes Essay—After Web 2.0
I. Hello World
It all started about 40 years ago with ARPANET. Things were asynchronous and fairly low bandwidth. Going “online” could be said to have begun in 1979 with the CompuServe model. In the early ‘80s AOL joined in with its take on the walled garden model, offering games, chat rooms, etc. Having laid the foundations for the modern web, the two companies would merge in ’97.
The Mosaic browser launched in 1993. Netscape announced its browser on October 13th, 1994 and filed to go public in less than a year later. And so began the World Wide Web, which would define the ‘90s in all kinds of ways.
“Web 1.0” and “2.0” are terms of art that can be sort of hard to pin down. But to speak of the shift from 1.0 to 2.0 is basically to speak of what’s changed from decade to decade. When things got going content was mostly static. Now the emphasis is on user generated content, social networking, and collaboration of one sort or another.
Relative usage patterns have shifted quite a bit too. In the early ‘90s, people used FTP. In the late ‘90s they were mostly web browsing or connecting to p2p networks. By 2010, over half of all Internet usage was video transmission. These rapid transitions invite the question of what’s next for the Internet. Will the next era be the massive shift to mobile, as many people think? It’s a plausible view, since many things seem possible there. But also worth putting in context is that relative shifts don’t tell the full story. Total Internet usage has grown dramatically as well. There are perhaps 20x more users today than there were in the late ‘90s. The ubiquity of the net creates a sense in which things today are very, very different.
II. The Wild West
The Internet has felt a lot like the Wild West for last 20 years or so. It’s been a frontier of sorts—a vast, open space where people can do almost anything. For the most part, there haven’t been too many rules or restrictions. People argue over whether that’s good or bad. But it raises interesting questions. What enables this frontier to exist as it does? And is the specter of regulation going to materialize? Is everything about to change?
Submitted by Jaime.