The Intern’s Weekly Report (Part 1)

We’re pleased to announce a new feature on our blog, namely a weekly report penned by our intern, Mona Shi Chen(陈诗) .   In the fall  Mona will be entering her senior year at Parsons.  Check out her bilingual skills:

蔡工作室处于纽约东村的十字路口边,寂静的第一街上错落着年代不一的各种建筑。从西往东走会意外地发现一扇大红色的门,鲜艳的色彩与古旧的建筑产生的强烈对比是我对工作室的第一印象。走进了那扇门似乎来到了世外桃源,诗意的中庭,高挑的屋顶,毫无遮掩的古老红砖将门外的强烈对比淡化了。我实习的第一件任务是整理工作室的小图书馆。学设计与传媒的我从没与图书馆学搭上钩。第一反映是先傻了,但在还没醒过来前我就已经沉浸在我热爱科目的书堆里了。以书窥人是我从小养成的坏习惯,一般人能以一个人的书籍判断一个人的性格,我通过了小图书馆模糊地看到了工作室的文化和历史。令我惊奇的是许多中文类的书籍竟然看似那么的熟悉。与我爸爸同辈,同样来自于闽南的蔡喜欢的风水哲学,建筑,民俗文化,甚至燕尾脊民居的书籍都与我厦门家里的书相似。舒适而亲切的工作环境给了原本就好学的我更多的动力。这六天的经历让我对蔡工作室有了初步的了解。

Bonnie, 我的图书馆学小老师,看似难沟通的人。 但我却从她毫不含糊装满了工作室数据的头脑里学到许多我在设计学院不能学到的东西。她的深厚的文化底蕴令我刮目相看。或许许多时候她散发出的感觉是盛气凌人,但她肯教人的心需要一个好事的实习生来挖掘出来。在她身上我学到的不仅是文档类的知识,还通过了她为我安排的任务学会了耐心,也享受到了耐心后的果实。

整理目录/文档/书,是许多崇尚时尚的人会认为枯燥,无聊的工作。但现在的我并不这么认为。嫁接蔡的喜好及逻辑和Bonnie的专业知识,在她的领导下我们成功地设计出了一个平衡的图书管理系统。我们首先以蔡的艺术生涯入手,色彩加上人性化的代号(例:SOL: solo, GRP:group)是 新系统的核心, 由内而外推理,以展览/事件年月日排列。设计标签是系统讨论完毕后的第一个任务,在工作室新又快的洁白手提电脑上我以蔡的CV为参考画出了所有个展与群展的标签。

3600(打印机)的声音从没这么悦耳过。3600的出口是两张完美又热腾腾的书本标签,刚出炉的标签不仅是蔡的目录们的身份证,也是满足我成就感的见证。100多本目录后,一本接着一本,我心怀满足地帖上了最后一个个展标签。无意中我记下了蔡艺术生涯中的个展。

这六天内穿插着文档,画画及搜索的工作。任务中的第一张草图是一棵树。这幅看似简单的画在没有大型构图经验的我的笔下显得毫无生气。蔡不但没有指责我,反而耐心地修改。他说每枝树枝都是有表情的,简单的一句话使我似乎更加地了解他的作品后的含义。有了树的教训我决定下副还是保守为秒,先用电脑构图再下笔。苏联的领袖们是我任务中的第二张草图上的主人公们。或许是第三天的原因,我不再那么安静,害羞。鼓足了勇气说出了我的想法。电脑构图后的效果把领袖们的胡子描绘得淋漓尽致。这是个极为有趣的任务,唤醒了我在共产党教育下的儿时记忆。高尔基,普西金,卓娅和舒拉,死魂灵,等都是我对俄国文化情有独中的原因。不过属于万金油式的我注定与专家,教授这类的职业无缘。学术类的人都是我的榜样,但我知道我是个大杂烩,兴趣爱好多得不能再多,或许我这样的性格真的与我在校做的未来职业测试一拍即合。策划与管理会是我的未来吗?面对我大学4年的专业设计技能我不知所措,为了成为一名设计师我从高中就没拐过方向勇往直前。迷茫的我在过程中学到的是如何利用我的中美文化背景处理微妙的社会关系。我是两牺动物,告诉鱼儿陆地的模样,告诉猴子水里的秘密。文化与文化,人与人之间的空白点是最合适我的地方。我想成为桥梁,通过艺术,设计,媒体,甚至隐形的才能来为人民服务!

       虽然目前我实习的目标,人生的目标并不明确,但我坚信努力者是最快乐的!

 

 

Cai Studio is located off an intersection in New York’s East Village, where eclectic architecture pervades First Street. Walk from West to East. It is hard to turn a head to a shiny red door glimmering against the aged tenement buildings. The contrasting façade was my first introduction to the studio. Upon entering through the door, the sense of contrast is lost, with everything perfectly balanced: a poetic center court, loft ceilings and exposed bricks fuse seamlessly fit together to form the blissful space.

I am a new intern at Cai Studio. Coming from a design and media studies background, library sciences was never on my “to-learn” list. My first assignment was to re-organize the studio’s mini library. Absence of such skills presented a mild setback, but I found myself in the midst of books that interested me. If judging a book by its cover is prohibited, then my obsession of judging a person by their books should be illegal. At first glance, the rows of books conveyed to me a brief history and culture of the studio. The Chinese books calmed me with a sense of familiarity. Feng Shui philosophy, architecture, folk culture, and even Swallowtail Minan architecture books are almost identical to books on my father’s bookshelf at home in Xiamen. Cai and my father’s Minan roots have common interests that come together to where I presently stand. A comfortable and friendly working environment drives me to succeed. This is only the beginning, six days into my internship at Cai Studio.

My first library of science teacher was Bonnie, head of archives. She tried to avoid communication as she circulated through the studio, but picking her brain was a new hobby that I developed within just a few days of interning at Cai Studio. Her tremendous knowledge of literature and impressive memory of the database of the studio put me in awe.  She may be eccentric to some, but fortunately I managed to convince her to put in an effort in coaching me.  I learned more than just archive related skills from her—I learned the beauty of patience and how to enjoy harvesting it.

Organizing documents and books may be boring to most interns, but this is not the case for me. Under Bonnie’s leadership, we successfully bonded Cai’s logic with her expertise and designed a balanced system for all. Our first task was to improve Cai’s solo shows, adding eye-popping colors to labels along with a humanized short symbol (example: SOL: solo, GRP: group). This was the core of the new system, to be put in the exhibition chronologically. Designing the labels was the first step to reality after our final decision. 3600’s voice had never been so sweet before. At the exit of 3600 (the printer) were two warm sheets of letter-sized labels ready to mark Cai’s legacy. More than 100 catalogues later, I subconsciously memorized Cai’s solo shows after giving each catalogue their own identification. The satisfaction I felt is beyond description!

These six days were interspersed with archives, drawing, and researching tasks. The first drawing assignment was to draft a tree. This simple tree gave me headaches that I did not foresee. With no experience in large-scale drawing compositions, the tree appears lifeless under my pen. Not only did Cai not get irritated, but he patiently corrected my mistakes. Cai said, “Each branch has their own facial expression.”  Such a simple sentence brought me closer to the meaning behind his works. Using the tree as my lesson, I decided to be conservative with the next task, digitalizing the final result before drawing it. Leaders of the Soviet Union are the main characters of the next drawing. After the third day, I no longer shied away from expressing my own thoughts. With the magic of Photoshop, the leaders’ beard and mustache came to life. Having spent my elementary school years in Communist China, this assignment held a special place to me. Gorky, Pushkin and Dead Souls are reasons of my fondness toward Russian culture. However, my “one size fits all” personality implies that I can never be an expert on anything. Countless interests make me a hodgepodge. Professor types are my role models. Perhaps this character of mine really does suit the career test I took in school perfectly. Am I meant to be a dean and never a professor? Could Project Planning and Management be my future direction?

      Having four years of professional design skills I acquired in school under my belt, I am lost. I still have not escaped the chaos. There is nothing quiet or harmonious about this style of living, being torn in the middle of cultural nodes of New York.  But as I look deeper into my surroundings, I begin to find myself within the loud juxtaposition. The East vs. West and the past vs. future all come together to where I am today, interfacing through art, design, media, cultures, and even invisible skills of mine. And I, possessing elements of both Chinese and American culture, feel somewhat at rest. Yes, I want to be a bridge, as I am happiest in middle of everything.

My life and internship goals are not clear now, but I know that I find pleasure when I excel and perform my best in everything that I do.

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