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:
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。
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.