I am born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina in the United States. I go to the University of Maryland, which is close to Washington, D.C. There I study Family Science, Philosophy, and Law. I am currently studying abroad this semester at Vrije Univeristeit on a law program. I am also taking an anthropology course and a Current Global Debates course.
Charlotte is a beautiful city in the south of the United States. It is continuing to grow each time I visit to become a major city. I love the weather in Charlotte most, especially during the fall or spring because there are so many trees and beautiful flowers. Even though I am from Charlotte, I now spend most of my time in Maryland or Washington, D.C. I love being in D.C. because there is so much to do. My favorite place is called the Wharf, which is by the water. During the summer it’s fun to sit by the water and listen to live music.
During my free time I enjoy reading and listening to music. I also loved photography when I was in high school, but have not had much time in University to take pictures. My favorite activity at school is working at my schools Oral Communication Center as a peer mentor. At the Center students come to improve their public speaking skills. I enjoy public speaking, and love helping others feel more confident about their own public speaking.
What fascinates me most about the city of Amsterdam as a whole, and the Nieuw West specifically, is the amount of diversity. Before coming here, I thought there would be many more people whose families had been in the Netherlands for generations. I think it is beautiful to see a city that has people different backgrounds. I also did not expect the diversity of the boroughs in Amsterdam. Going from Zuid, which is where I study, to Nieuw West, and then to Centrum, each place is unique in their own way. I am excited to learn more about each of the boroughs and am eager to learn more about how this city works.
Before joining SAMA, I only really knew of Banksy. I have always been amazed by street artists, but had never been exposed to the art enough to really feel that connected. I am excited to get to live in a city with so much street art and to learn more about it. As a child, I was very involved in the arts. From painting, dancing, singing, acting, playing piano, and photography, I really enjoyed it all and am glad I will have to the time embrace my artistic side while in Amsterdam.
I think the most interesting aspect of street art for me is that there is so much more to each piece than what meets the eye. Each time I look at a piece of street art I find something new that I may not have noticed before. I also think that it is interesting to compare what people think the painting means. I also love now that I get to learn more about the artists, and what they are trying to convey.
When I came abroad, I made it a goal for myself to really get to know the city, not just as a tourist. I felt that working at SAMA I would get to know the city from a different perspective. I would get to see the art of everyday people who live here, work with individuals who know much more about this city than I do, and get to step outside my usual area of studies.
The most interesting aspect of SAMA, for me, is that it has taken the concept of a museum away from a “brick and mortar” type feel and given street artists a sort of platform. I also think it is great for people like me, who have not been exposed to much street art and did not know as much about street before SAMA, to have a museum that does not just teach about street art by having pictures hung up in a museum, but it actually takes you to the art itself. You get to stand in the same spot where the artist stood when they created their art, which is very rare for almost any other museum or artform.
I really enjoy the work of El Pez because it is so colorful and fun to look at. The artwork really pops out and brightens your day, especially when the skies are grey and its raining. My favorite piece in the SAMA collection is “Glory” by Danny Recal and El Pez. I love the combination of the two artists and the way their works are very different, but they still complement one another. I specifically like that there is a little picture of one of El Pez’s birds hanging in Danny Recal’s milkmaid because it shows the two worked together. I really like the meaning behind the milkmaid’s dress being outside the frame, insinuating the viewer should think “outside the box.” I also personally connected to the merging of the two artists because they both brought something from their countries. El Pez, from Barcelona, brought the colourful birds, and Danny Recal, from Amsterdam, brought a new take on the famous painting, “The Milkmaid.” Since I am studying here in Amsterdam, I hope to immerse myself more with Dutch culture, and when I am here adapt and grow in new ways, but still keeping a sense of my American identity. Then when returning home, I hope to still hold on to everything I learned and all the ways I grew in Amsterdam.
During my time at SAMA, I would like to learn more about the street artists and the meaning behind the pieces. Also, studying law, I specifically am interested in the legality of street art since most street art I have seen in the States is considered vandalism. I also want to learn more about the city and the everyday lives of people that live here. I do not just want to see the city with rose colored glasses and leave here believing that this city is a Utopia. I want to know about the hardships, the politics, the sports, and everything that a local can share with me.
The anthropology course I am taking here connects to SAMA because street art is all about engaging people, and anthropology studies people and their connectedness. In anthropology you also study how different parts of the world view the world and are impacted differently by the same thing. This is similar to street art because people from all different backgrounds could look at the same piece of art and take away something different. The street artists themselves also connect to the public through their art differently based on their backgrounds. SAMA can benefit from my legal studies because I am able to efficiently edit writings for the catalogue or blogs.
During my time at SAMA, I hope to learn new things simply about the world. Living in the United States, I feel as though we do not know as much about other countries as they know about us. Meeting people from all over the world, I hope to get to know more about their cultures. I also hope in learning more about street art, I can go home, find more street art around me, and have a deeper appreciation of understanding of each piece.
I think what is both impressive and funny is the biking. I am impressed by how good people are at biking here. They have no fear and are able to bike with multiple people on a bike, while carrying items, or even not using their hands. The funny part of biking is me and other people I am studying with trying to master the art of biking other than simply turning or going straight. The first time I went to Vondelpark I biked from where I live, which was only supposed to be about 10 minutes but ended up taking about 30 because I kept getting lost. When I finally made it, I parked my bike and walked around. The sun was starting to set, so I wanted to head home but I could not find my bike. It took me about an hour to retrace my steps and find where I parked it. I thought it was especially funny because when I initially parked my bike I was going to take a picture of where I parked it, but I told myself I wouldn’t forget where it was. I was very wrong.