Impressions of The Netherlands by Study Abroad student Luca Toretta. He is a video production major from St. Louis.
Archive for the ‘Art’ Category
By Alex Cupp
Music is a trans-global form of art that has many different “genres.” But as an American there is really only one genre that matters; and that is the blues. Yes, I am aware that blues music is just a melting pot of different types of music like jazz and folk and bluegrass, but it has become something of its own. Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri that sound is something that I have come to love.
I came to Leiden, The Netherlands for a semester to pursue an Audio engineering degree, “studying” at a very small college called Webster University. I myself am not what I would consider a musical talent but I am definitely obsessed with noises made in harmony, a good fit for my degree. Back where I come from there is a street named Broadway that runs through downtown St. Louis parallel to the Mississippi River. Not only is Busch Stadium (home of the St. Louis Cardinals) located on the street, but also three small blues bars: Broadway Oyster Bar, Beale Off Broadway, and BB’s Jazz, Blues and Soups. Many famous acts and influential blues musicians have come through these bars. My friends and family know that if I am not at work or at home it is a safe bet I am at one of these bars, listening to some heavy-rooted blues.
To my surprise, in Leiden there are far more night clubs with DJs pressing the play button on their Macs than bars that have live musicians. I was becoming very judgmental about the Dutch opinion of music, and then I met Dan Hellinger. Dan teaches International Relations at Webster Leiden, he is a musician and, like me, also from St. Louis and visiting Leiden for a semester. The only difference is, he’s visiting as an instructor. Now I know that my hometown may be somewhat musically inclined, but I do not feel it is naive to think there are blues bars across the world. After all, some of the worlds greatest-ever bands like the Beatles and Rolling Stones, or even U2, are all more or less blues-based bands. But the music scene in Leiden, as Dan would describe it, is “pretty thin.”
Like me, Dan grew up playing guitar. About fifteen years ago he decided to take up playing the mandolin because there were always too many guitars at the open sessions he would play at and he recently began playing fiddle. You could probably tell just by his interest in musical instruments, that stylistically he plays more folksy bluegrass tunes than anything, but he does like to dabble into jazz and blues. I asked him how often he plays and why and he gave me a very simple answer. He said, “Probably every day… Because it is fun!”
It is only natural for musicians to want to play around other musicians so I wondered where Dan went to release his urge to jam. A small corner bar named De Tregter, is home to a Tuesday evening open jam session. I did not know what to expect. But, I can tell you I certainly did not expect around ten to twelve gentleman at any given time’ sitting around a large wooden table, playing a variety of instruments, some of which I had no clue what they were, while patrons at the bar huddled extremely close. I walked in and immediately knew, This! is where musicians come to play music.
There were Irish folks, Dutch folks, American folks and many other people from around the world and just like the blues it was a melting pot of different genres all gathered around one table. One man would begin to play a song. It seemed that if the person next to him joined in, then the whole group would then join in and they would jam until it seemed to all, there was no other direction to take it. There were such a variety of songs played, ranging from Irish folk to bluegrass and blues, they even jammed on Don McLean’s “American Pie.”
It is still a little disappointing that I can’t walk down the street and sit in the pub on a random night and catch good music. I guess Leiden just in not the place for that. But, it is reassuring to know that there still is REAL music being made everywhere.
Terry Richardson is an international celebrity, as well as one of the most prolific and compelling photographers of his generation. He’s known for his ability to cut to the raw essence of whoever appears on his set. Richardson’s pictures are at once funny, tragic, often beautiful, and always provocative.
He was born in New York City and raised in Hollywood. Richardson began photographing his environment while attending Hollywood High School and playing in a punk rock band.
He hasn’t stopped shooting since. Richardson has worked on campaigns for such clients as Gucci, Sisley, Miu Miu, Chloe, and his editorial work has appeared in magazines such as French Vogue, British Vogue, i-D, GQ, Harper’s Bazaar and Purple.
He has worked with many celebrities; his impressive list of subjects includes Daniel Day Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Vincent Gallo, Tom Ford, Jay Z, Kanye West, Johnny Knoxville, Karl Lagerfeld, Pharell Williams and many, many others.
Richardson’s work has been the subject of numerous group- and one-man shows throughout the world. He has also published a series of books, beginning with Hysteric Glamour in 1998, and stretching through his career until his most recent work, a retrospective from Taschen, entitled Terryworld 25th Anniversary Edition.
Richardson’s work spans a variety of media: he has shot music videos and commercials and is currently working on his first feature film. Whatever the medium, Richardson continues to prove that he is a true American Original.
Richardson has been repeatedly accused of sexual abuse throughout the past decade, but one of the most relevant cases was reported from a young college girl, a freshman, and published on the gloss.com website. It describes disturbing behavior on Richardson’s part, up to the point where he asks her for a sexual performance.
In the end, Terry Richardson is a phenomenal photographer, but along with his talent, there seems to be several behavioral problems and issues. These might compromise him in terms of social relations, but apparently they do not affect the quality of his work.
On the 28th of March, the Leiden Webster University Art Gallery premiered the semester’s first exhibition, under the supervision of the Gallery’s new curator, Malia Bloeden. Artist Nathania Rubin presented her exhibition “Crowded.”
Nathania Rubin is an independent fine art researcher, concept animator and visual artist who lived all week at the Webster campus, covering the gallery’s walls with her artwork. “Crowded” is a static exhibition with the artwork created directly on the walls, using various media, such as paint, graphite, ink and marker.
Rubin’s show “…uses drawing and animation to explore transformation and fragmentation of identity.” This exploration of oneself is clearly felt by viewers as the artistic clatter of Rubin’s work overwhelms the atmosphere.
Of course, the event could not have happened without its organizers. Malia Bloeden is one of the main reasons for the Gallery’s success. Bloeden, Liz Miller’s successor, has previously studied Media and Communications at Webster, and is the new caretaker and organizer of the art gallery.
She watched over the whole process of the exhibition’ s set up – from the planning to inviting the artist, setting up and organizing the exhibit. She is one of the backbones of the gallery, and on the day of the opening, welcomed its guests, students and faculty to the building.
The Gallery was extremely successful and enjoyable, with a large number of guests and viewers arriving at the opening. Bloeden was excited to continue working in her new position, and looked forward to meeting, and getting to know various visiting artists who will be coming in the future.
“Organizing and running an art exhibition is not as easy as it appears to be, and a lot of work has to be put into it ‘behind the scenes,’ which is what many people don’t realize,” stated one of the exhibition’s guests. “Crowded,” which may at first appear to be a simple event,’s has demonstrated exactly that to the Webster community. Because the artist lived and worked all day at the Webster Art annex, the news of the event spread among the faculty and students, and Malia soon found she had a success on her hands.
By Mariam Raafat
“Scenery designers get paid twice as much as costume designers, although costume designers put in much time and energy not only with making sure the costumes fit the actors part perfectly but countless hours getting materials.” Iris Elstordt.
Iris has been a friend and a neighbor, since I’ve moved to the Netherlands. The first time she was on stage or been in a production is the age of six, taking ballet lessons. Even then, she was more interested in what went on behind the scenes, than what went on in the front stage. “What got me interested in costume design? I liked the magic of it, being able to create a world of my own.” She smiles, and her face lights up. Iris lives in Rijswijk, with her husband and two kids. When asked about how she is able to juggle home life with work, she said, “it is possible. I am fortunate because if there is ever anything wrong I am only ten minutes away, and my job allows me to leave if necessary. Sometimes, I end up taking my kids with me to work and they have a blast.” She says that they spend the majority of the time trying on costumes and masks. Her kids both love the theatre, and took an interest in what goes on behind the curtain.
One point she mentioned was that critics never mention in their review about the costumes. The only time the critic would mention it is if the costume was either really horrible, or really great. “There is never any recognition to the designers, who are working hard to make sure the actors are portraying their character the way they would like to.” One of the perks about being a costume designer is getting to travel. Iris has been to a few countries such as Barcelona, Istanbul, Leon, and Paris. All of which helped her in getting materials such as different kinds of fabric (velvet, lace, elastic, synthetic).
When asked about what she is most nervous, about opening night, “That people might not like the costumes, or might not even like the play. But the show must go on!”
If you would like more information on the upcoming plays, please visit www.nationaletonee.nl .
This is recent graduate Rosabelle Illes (2011), whose sharp mind and focused ambition have continued to set her apart in her life after Webster. Webster senior Valerie Zwart chats with Rosabelle and learns about her academic vision, her poetic voice, and the people who have added to her momentum along the way.
VZ: Let’s start with the academic side of your story – what have you studied, and what has influenced you most during this time?
RI: In 2006, I completed my High School education with a VWO diploma from Colegio Arubano in Aruba. I took some time off after this and began my bachelor studies in January 2008 at Webster University Leiden. After 3 years I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in English. Currently I am studying Social and Organizational Psychology at Leiden University and hope to obtain my master’s degree in February 2012. During this time I have been touched by some amazing teachers (too many to mention) and can say their wisdom and care are what influenced me most during my studies.
VZ: If you could distil it down for us, what (or who) has been the source of your academic ambition?
RI: The source of my academic ambition is undoubtedly my parents. Both my mother and my father value education highly and have always showed me its importance by their own example, by their constant interest in my academic career, and by their support of my personal development.
VZ: Speaking of academic ambition, congratulations on your recent acceptance into Leiden University as a PhD candidate! Tell us a bit about your process of researching and applying for the program.
RI: It is kind of funny, since I was not looking to apply for a PhD program. During one of our meetings, my mentor Dr. Colette van Laar asked if I had ever considered this option. It is kind of funny, since I was not looking to apply for a PhD program. I was quick to reply that I was done studying and that would like to start making my preparations to return to my island, Aruba, and contribute to its growth. But after careful consideration of all the benefits, advantages and expertise I would take home, I began to seriously consider pursuing the doctoral program at Leiden University. When Dr. van Laar expressed her satisfaction with my work ethic and invited me join her in applying for research funding for a PhD project after I finish my graduate program, I accepted. That is how I received this wonderful opportunity.
VZ: Does your upcoming research have a name or general shape yet?
RI: My current master’s thesis research takes a closer look at the experiences and ideas of elderly people. We are interested in the way elderly people think about the aging process and the way they believe society perceives aging. More specifically, we are investigating whether, and if so, how, this influences elderly people’s current and planned future behavior. This research is part of a larger research program by Leiden University on healthy and happy aging. My dissertation will also be part of this program.
VZ: Drawing from your own experience, how would you counsel Webster Leiden undergraduates who are considering graduate and doctoral studies?
RI: You must realize that your application for graduate and doctoral programs begins the moment you start your undergraduate studies – your grades weigh heavily on your chances of being admitted to graduate school, so keep them high.
Start exploring your interests in order to choose a specialization for your master’s degree. Then explore your interests further within your specialization to determine your desired dissertation topic. Search for supervisors (within your institution and other universities) who specialize in your topic and speak to your mentor and other PhD students for guidance and advice. My experience is there are many people ready to help but you must show interest, motivation and determination. Keep on!
VZ: We know that aside from academic excellence, you are also committed to nurturing your creativity. You’ve published several books of poetry and performed your work in Aruba and the Netherlands. What have been the challenges and rewards of offering your work to the public?
RI: I think the biggest challenge came after publishing my first book, ‘Beyond Insanity.’ When I was preparing for the introduction and even during the launch, I remember everyone telling me how courageous I was for taking the step to publish my poetry. At the time, I didn’t understand why they all kept saying that. In fact, I didn’t think it was so courageous, I just thought it was something fun to do. And it was…until the presentations, the interviews and the TV appearances were over. Then I felt completely empty inside. I started questioning if I had said the right things with my poetry, if people would understand or misunderstand the poems, and if my words would help people. I wondered if my art had any meaning at all. All of a sudden I did not want to speak about the book anymore. I wanted to forget it ever happened.
Luckily, I got a break from it all since my mother and I had a summer trip planned to South-Africa a month after the publication. In the middle of nowhere, in the company of nature and incredibly sweet and generous people, I found my tranquility. Somehow all my worries and insecurities transformed themselves into strength with every night I spent in the middle of nowhere. I remember one day we returned to our bungalow and there was a small note on our pillow, it read “May the stars of the African sky watch over you tonight and always.” I keep this note in my purse to remind me of the place that has helped me so unconditionally and filled me with the courage everyone was talking about back home. So to answer your question, the greatest challenge of getting my poems published was realizing it was a great challenge to begin with and acknowledging the responsibility which comes with it.
The greatest reward is easier to answer. It feels amazing to hear small “hm” reactions or laughter from the public while I recite a key sentence. Or to gaze into the eyes of the public and make a spiritual connection of mutual understanding. But really, my greatest reward to date was felt during a book signing session at a bookstore in Aruba in December 2010. A lady walked in and bought my second book, had it gift-wrapped and walked up to me and said “My four year old nephew saw you on TV and asked me to buy your book so he can put under the Christmas tree for his mother.”
Stay up to date with Rosabelle’s work and view her poetry performances on her website.
The Webster Leiden Art Gallery presents the first show of the new academic year. ‘Traces’, a sculptural installation by French artist Jean-Philippe Paumier, featuring a series of works described as ‘unstill life’, opening Wednesday, August 24, 5-7pm.
Here is the artist’s statement:
My interest as a sculptor focuses on fluid and powdered materials, which I use for their specific qualities of instability and fragility. I consider the process of sculpting as a temporary moment of containing or freezing a given shape or object which then dissolves and frees itself through time or natural erosion. In my work I focus on slowing down this process of dissolution.
Traces refers to the process of creation and materialization. All of the works here have been obtained through casting or compacting, or distributing a raw material.
Fossil Sounds, made of plaster, plays fragments of a sort of reversed, negative music. Sweet Light deals with the metaphorical materialization of light poured on the floor, and Pure, while made of edible flour, is not at all consumable as such. In this show, I have worked to offer visitors insight into process, an experience of reflection on time and duration.
The work is momentary and fragile, and represents a sort of ‘’unstill’’ life.
The gallery is located in the Webster Arts Annex at:
Galgewater 1, 2311 VZ, Leiden
For more information email: firstname.lastname@example.org