Hostos Design Lab meets Anselblue

Today the interviewer became the interviewee.  Catherine Lewis, design professor, and her students from Hostos Community College in the Bronx, NY, came to my home/studio to video interview me about my work as a journalist, photographer and artist.

These students are part of a twelve-day design lab running at MASS MoCA. The Hostos Design Lab is connected to the Bureau for Open Culture’s Mass MoCA exhibition, I am Searching for Field Character, and are housed in the Work Site space.

As many readers know, I interview people all the time.  It’s my job…but having to answer someone else’s questions?  It’s completely and utterly nerve-wracking.  Now I realize why people always say to me with a nervous laugh to “please make me sound smart.”  No matter how much I prepared with my written-down-and-sounds-super-good answers to their thought-provoking questions, I lost my nerve on the first flub and bounded my way through the rest of the video interview like a bull in a china shop.

Rewind to this morning.  I was busy cleaning my outdoor studio and making sure the rest of my space looked presentable for company en route to the loo.  I even put a dress on and took my hair out of my usual ponytail holding a pencil or two.  Just as I finished setting up the table with iced tea and snacks, I heard a tiny a knock on my door and opened up to find a smiling Catherine with seven students.

Lucky me!  I don’t think that many people had been in my outside studio since like ever but I happily welcomed them all inside to cool off and relax a bit.  Jake the cat was in his glory with all these new folks as they doted on him and told him how cute he was.  The students were so outgoing and sociable that we started talking right then and there, a whirlwind of many great conversations to fill the rest of the afternoon.

Now, being a journalist, I feel like I should have audio-taped their introductions but I didn’t.  I guess that’s the pitfall to wanting being “off duty” for once…now I’m cursing my lacking memory and wishing that I wrote down all their names and information.  They were impressive kids and, as any of my former students and colleagues would say, I throw around compliments like manhole covers.

While cameras and audio were setting up, we filmed some B-roll with a Flip camera (::high five::) .  It was really great to have the students around again and it reminded me of my days in the classroom.  Once it was time for my interview, I forgot everything…or maybe it was that I answered just right but had too much extra that I wanted to say.  Add trying to answer through the lenses of journalist, photographer and illustrator and I wish I had just picked one to concentrate on.

The nuggets of information will be woven together in a media project for determining the value and meaning of a “cultural worker” and their importance within a community.  Maybe, for dorky reference, I’ll post my answers for them to see.

Since they couldn’t stay for a cook out (and, yes, I asked them), I sent them back to North Adams with postcard illustrations of their choice and snacks.  Educators term their design lab as “high impact learning” but, as a former educator, I just call it smart.  What better than to have a bunch of up-and-coming design students talk shop and all its peripherals with amazing professors and professionals?  It’ll take them to another level entirely.  I wish that I could spend another day with Catherine and her students…maybe they’ll invite me up next week to sit on a panel so we can talk more?