Final Sculpture for SITE Santa Fe
SITE Santa Fe Biennial

NYC Last Week

So I was in NYC last week for the Mellon-Mays SSRC 20th anniversary gala. The Mellon-Mays SSRC program takes underrepresented college students and prepares them for professorial academic careers, mostly in the humanities and social sciences. They provide lots of funding, including research grants and pay off up to $10K in undergraduate and graduate college loans. The hold annual conferences and workshops for networking and mentorship.

This was the first conference that I had attended and I probably will not attend another one. The conference itself was great, but since I'd never attended previous ones, I did not have a clique to join. And the groups were extremely cliquish. But it was cool to be around really intelligent and accomplished people of color and be able to have spontaneous conversations about middle class black masculinity and the performance of law. I did get to meet some people from Bryn Mawr College at the reception and that was cool.

The Mellon-Mays SSRC program is a great model for increasing diversity in academia, which makes me think about what it would take to do this sort of program for the field of design.

The rest of NYC was a social whirlwind as usual. I got in on Wednesday afternoon and checked into one of the dorms at Columbia University. I had never spent time on the Upper West Side/Harlem. The area is really nice with the river and the parks. There is a good vibe and it doesn't feel as crowded as Mid-town. I met with Manual on 125th Street in Harlem where he treated me to some really good vegetarian Jamaican food and ginger brew. I had the beans and rice, fake chicken curry, and collard greens. We then went to see Amateur Night at the Apollo. That was hellva fun. The audience was about 1/3 white and 2/3rds of color (mostly black and latino), which led to some interesting dynamics with the MC. Most of the jokes were about making fun of blacks, latinos, and dissin on whites. It feels awkward to diss on whites when they are in the audience. Anyway, most of the talent were mediocre (not exceptional but not bad enough to boo of the stage). About three performers were really great.

Thursday before the Mellon Mays SSRC program, I took the 1 Train from Columbia U to 22nd street to make a 9AM conference call with Leilah and Leah Rico of AIGA at AIGA headquarters. We went over a design and strategy project we are doing for them.  Then, I took the F Train from 23rd to the MoMA where I had a meeting 10:30 AM with Ric Grefe.

He knows a lot about art, which makes sense considering his wife is an artist. It's just that one rarely gets to interact with him outside of work projects and strategy. There was some work in terms of asking follow up questions to the design and strategy project and he was doing a hard sell on some design policy stuff that he wanted me to get involved with, but I said no.  It was sooo hard to say no, but it was the best thing for me to do.

He had a call at noon and I had to get back uptown for the MM-SSRC stuff. Then Friday AM, I had breakfast with Saki Mafundikwa, the Zimbabwean director of ZIVA, and his 6-year old son, about his participation in a Black Designers Forum we are holding at the UIC -Motorola Innovation Center in August.

I then caught my plane to Denver, which ended up being late so I missed my connecting flight at 5:30pm MT. They rebooked me on the 9:30pm MT flight which was delayed until 11:00 PM, which meant that I missed the last Sandia Shuttle from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, which meant I had to pay $200 for a private limo. I got in at 2:00AM MT and Jerry kept me up all night because he was both excited I was back and pissed off that I had left him for 3 days.

Everyone at Casa Del Toros took care of him, so he had a good time without me. He was taken on long walks to the river and given lots of petting and treats. I really love Santa Fe.

So now I finished the introductory chapter of my book, In Design We Trust, yippeee!!! But that's another post.


ksenija berk

Congratulations on finishing the introductory chapter! I know how difficult it is and yet at the same time rewarding to finish the first chapter. All the others will now smoothly slide in... Right? :)

Bonnie Schwartz


You should have called us from the airport. We would have picked you up. $200 for a one-hour ride is ridiculous. Gong has been staying up late mining other people's friends lists on Facebook, so no sleep would have been lost!

Glad to hear you enjoyed your stay in NYC. Hope to see you soon. Willow misses her cool new auntie.


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