Posts tagged with "generation z"

Isabelle Fries makes a brief splash inside 360 MAGAZINE

ISABELLE FRIES

At 22 years old, Isabelle Fries has started to make a name for herself in the music industry. Not only is she gifted in her art, she has an extremely large heart.

Born in Sydney, but raised in Denver, Colorado, Fries found her inclination for singing at a young age. “I knew I wanted music to be a part of my life since I was about 7, but as I got older I was able to recognize that it is a labor of love for me,” she expressed. “I have never searched for fame through my music.” 

Not long after, she discovered her heart had room for another love, philanthropy. At just 15 years old, Fries became the first youth board member and youth leader for the Global Livingston Institute (GLI) an NGO in Uganda who’s mission is to educate students & community leaders on innovative approaches to international development and empower awareness, collaboration, conversations and personal growth. 

Through working with this organization, Isabelle travelled to Uganda to teach, perform and empower. In 2017, Fries performed in front of 20,000 people in Uganda at the annual iKnow HIV Awareness Concert Series along with other musicians from around the world, using music to breakdown barriers, bring people together and provide free medical testing and awareness for HIV for over 8,500 Ugandans.  

“I became a part of GLI when I was 15 and fully threw myself into their mission and their work. It is what opened my eyes to one of my passions I am now pursuing in international education. They really focus on young voices and drawing on perspectives from all types of individuals which is why I was asked to be on the board at such a young age. GLI is truly one of the most important things in my life so I could not be more thankful to be a part of it.” 

This wasn’t the only organization Fries carried out philanthropic work with. She volunteered in Haiti with The Road to Hope, an International Affairs Intern with Creative Visions in Malibu, California and a community worker with CEPIA in Costa Rica.

Isabelle still wanted to do more for Eastern African communities. She founded the “Bulamu Raise Your Voice Community Foundation (BCF)” and was able to draw on inspiration from one of her other life-long devotions: swimming. 

For twelve years, she swam competitively breaking records, winning State Championships and being a leader on her teams until complications from several autoimmune disorders forced her out of the water. This was never a part of her plan, but she was able to alter her life’s path and kept pushing through

“It is not something that I let control my life or hold me back from living. I take care of myself in every way I can and find strength in what I am able to do and learn new ways to improve my way of life,” she expressed. 

One of Fries’ missions with both GLI and BCF is to raise awareness for water safety on Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda by teaching swimming to prevent drownings. By working closely with GLI and the headmaster of the Kazi Primary School, Fries has been able to carry out this initiative, as well as implementing academic, music and sports curriculum.  

She said that the community of Lake Bunyonyi changed her life by seeing how they are such powerful and driven people. “I don’t go for my own benefit or to be a ‘white savior’ ,” she asserted. “When I work in Uganda, I give the individuals I work with support and resources and they truly do the rest.”

Isabelle was fortunate enough to meet one of her long time role models, Michael Phelps. Fostering a relationship with someone who has shaped her life in so many ways in and out of the water has been such a blessing, says Fries. This lead to her working with the Michael Phelps Foudation (MPF), where she took the opportunity to become certified in their “IM Water Safety Program” which is implemented in The Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

When given the opportunity again to combine her music and philanthropy through the MPF, she couldn’t resist. Isabelle was asked to open for country singer, Eric Church, at a MPF benefit concert in Chicago at the iconic Arcada Theater. “Swimming is an incredibly big part of my life as I was a serious competitive swimmer from the ages of 5 to 18, therefor having the chance to combine my music with my love and passion for swimming and water safety was very special and meaningful.” 

Now a recent graduate of The University of Southern California, Fries splits her time living between Denver and Los Angeles, continuing to pursue her passions: music and philanthropy, while working in Denver at a non-profit dedicated to mentoring students. Isabelle holds a degree in International Relations with minors in Spanish as well as  Non-Profits, Philanthropy and Volunteerism. 

While studying at USC, Isabelle was fortunate enough to catch the eye of Grammy-winning, multi-platinum producer/mixer Rob Chiarelli, who she’s fostered an incredibly close relationship with. 

She began releasing music signed with Chiarelli’s label Streetlamp records this year, already finding a widespread and loyal audience across all music platforms using her rich, soulful vocal that could be compared to the sound of Lauren Daigle or Adele. She recently released her 6th single, a raw piano ballad called “All We Had. When people listen to her music, Fries always wants to make them truly feel – whatever that feeling may be. Through channeling lyrics with her songwriters from her own life experiences, the emotions she is able to elicit are special to her. 

While the music may be interpreted differently for each unique individual, her raw style is something she hopes help guide those listeners on whatever journey they want to take. “I’ve always said, I love music because it lets you feel something you didn’t think you could.”

This is definitely something she mirrors artistically with one of her musical inspirations, Amy Winehouse. Growing up performing jazz music, Fries describes this genre as a big part of her musical identity, so she was instantly drawn to Winehouse’s style which she catalogs as “authentic, raw and groundbreaking. Amy created music unapologetically.”

But Fries’ number one music icon is Sir Elton John. “His music was always around me when I was growing up. My parents loved all music from that time and exposed me to it at a very young age which is one of the reasons it is the type of music I love the most. 

However, Elton John’s music was different for me, it felt like poetry and real emotion. His sound and songs are like stories that you never want to end. When I began to listen to him more I realized this is the type of music I want to sing and be a part of.” 

Feeling very blessed to have found such a supportive team, guiding her in finally being able to put her own original songs out there into the world, she is excited to evolve using her music to help create change, perform live again, and continue to build upon her body of work. While she’s away in the studio recording, we’ll be out here patiently waiting for more music, while she continues to use her voice to make the world a better place. 

Kaelen Felix Illustrates a Food and Travel Article for 360 MAGAZINE

Purdue alumna × Stovetop stuffing

If Stove Top stuffing makes an appearance at your Thanksgiving dinner, you can thank a Purdue University alumna.

The late Ruth Siems, a 1953 home economics graduate, is credited with the invention of Stove Top stuffing. The product hit shelves in 1971 as a dish appropriate for Thanksgiving but also for everyday meals. The secret behind the dish is the dimensions of the bread crumbs, which General Foods patented in 1975. Siems is listed first among the inventors, followed by Anthony Capossela Jr., John Halligan and C. Robert Wyss.

Siems’ invention came at a time when there was a high demand in the U.S. for convenience foods. She worked on developing Stove Top stuffing while working at General Foods, and the invention quickly became a Thanksgiving staple.

Siems grew up in Evansville, Indiana, and died in 2005 in Newburgh, Indiana, according to her obituary in The New York Times. She worked at General Foods almost 35 years. Kraft Foods now owns Stove Top stuffing, which sells about 60 million boxes a year. The dish comes in a variety of flavors.

Purdue Archives and Special Collections has information about Siems’ work on food inventions as part of the Gertrude Sunderlin Papers. Sunderlin was an early foods and nutrition professor at Purdue.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 5 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at https://purdue.edu/.

Rita Azar Illustrates a Drug Law Article for 360 MAGAZINE

How Marijuana is Becoming More Popular in Pop Culture

Cannabis in pop culture isn’t exactly a new concept. You’ve probably heard plenty of songs and seen a variety of movies where people talk about weed. However, the influence of this substance on pop culture might be bigger than you’d think. It turns out that almost half of all the US hip-hop and R&B songs in the industry have some mention of cannabis. Historically, people have largely referenced marijuana in the same vein, connecting it to lazy stereotypical stoner types. This concept is something that many people appreciated several years ago, but it’s quickly becoming outdated in a world where scientific research is beginning to demonstrate the potential of this natural substance for medical purposes. Things are beginning to turn a corner in the pop culture landscape, but it’s a slow process, and we have a long way to go. 

The Changing Presence of Cannabis in Culture

Say the word marijuana to most people and they’ll think of old-fashioned stoner portrayals that represent anyone who uses this drug as lazy and under-educated. Over the years, the way that we view this product has been mostly negative, thanks to the way that television and movie producers used the drug to represent a very specific kind of character. Today, studies indicate that pop culture is referencing weed more than ever before, but the general attitude to it might be changing. 

We’re beginning to see the substance from a new perspective on the television and movie screens, because the attitude of the public is changing. These days, it’s becoming much more acceptable for people to use natural products like marijuana for the treatment of various conditions. You can get your Nevada medical marijuana card in a matter of minutes online from NuggMD, with a quick and easy process that only bills you on approval. It’s part of everyday life for a lot of individuals. As laws around the drug continue to change, so too do the opinions of the people who view this product as a pop culture icon. 

Taking on a New Light

Scientific study and access to more data about the benefits that the right strain of certain substances can have on particular diseases is leading to a more educated community. We know today that there’s more to this plant than we originally thought, and many experts believe that it could be the key to managing some very serious and life-changing conditions. The people who use marijuana today aren’t just college kids looking to pass time or get high between classes. 

Although there are still many states that offer the product recreationally, it also has much more important benefits that are worth considering too. Not only is cannabis a great medicine, but it can also be a product that helps to relieve anxiety and reduce inflammation. People are even discovering new ways to experiment with the product in the form of CBD oils and various edibles. The landscape is beginning to evolve, and soon, the demand for a new view of weed in pop culture will be greater than ever.

Rita Azar illustrates relationship article for 360 MAGAZINE

In With the Old – The Eccentricities of Generation Z

Gen Z is….strange.

Born at a time where the Twin Towers were gone, Limp Bizkit were popular and Manchester United were kings of Europe, the genesis of Gen Y was certainly an exercise in the bizarre. 

It’s no surprise, then, that those born at the turn of the millennium have no shortage of quirks. 

Whether it’s the surreal sense of humor, ‘depression memes’, mumble rap, or hydro flask stickers, the self-expression of Gen-Y’ers is certainly much, much different than previous generations.

Why Are Gen-Z’ers So…Weird?

I don’t mean to use the word ‘weird’ in a derogatory fashion, much the opposite. This generation is more in-tune than ever in noticing, documenting, and even embracing, the absurdness of the human condition in the form of social media and news outlets – and their methods of self-expression are something that Existentialist philosophers would turn their heads at. Maybe this is due to the abnormal cauldron that was boiling away during Gen-Z’s formative years, and what ongoing events are continuing to influence the young minds of Gen-Z.

The 2000’s were a strange decade for us Westerners. We were getting to grips with the Internet, and the juggernaut of social media was in its infancy – never before was it so easy to connect with, talk to, and even stalk, our friends, families, and our friends’ friends. With the all-seeing visibility of social media platforms, Gen-Z developed a level of expectation and social pressure that was completely unknown to their predecessors. 

Generation Z was the first generation whose presence was truly immersed in the Internet. The effect of the Web can be seen not only in their sense of humour, but also their fashion choices, too. 

Gen-Z’s Value Comfort Above All Else

The rise of athleisure clothing in recent years has brought with it a level of comfort that other styles simply can’t offer. 

Though wearing gym-gear to the office sounds like something out of 1990s Silicon Valley to some, it’s become the norm to arrive at the office wearing yoga pants and a T-shirt. 

The rise of social media influencers have definitely had a part to play, too. Celebrities are often seen in public wearing candid, gym-based uniforms, and actors like Dwayne Johnson and Hugh Jackman have helped make healthy lifestyles cool. 

Not only does athleisure provide comfort, some of it is pretty damn stylish nowadays – and both are attributes that Gen-Z’ers value. 

 Are The Early 2000’s Back?

The fact that the early-2000s were twenty years ago is unfathomable for most of us. 

Simpler times, they were, but at least the 2020s have resurrected some nostalgia-inducing outfits for us to remember days long gone by. Whether it’s tiny sunglasses, low rise jeans, or mesh tops (for both men and women) some of the outfits worn by Gen-Z’ers are enough to usher in years of nostalgia, for better or worse.

Luckily for us, frosted tips, and baggy, Eminem-esque t-shirts remain on the ash heap of history, for now anyway.

Perhaps this return to the early-2000s is simply Gen-Z’s returning to the outfits they saw in their youth – perhaps it’s meant as an antidote to today’s current crazy climate, one that will unquestionably define their twenties and thirties. On the other hand, it could be neither of those – and Gen-Z’s are simply wearing them because they like them. Either way, retro-inspired get-up is all the rage in 2020. 

The Gen-Z Story Continues to Get Stranger

Those who are a part of Generation Z have had lives book-ended, so far, by two world-defining events – the 9/11 attacks and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It will be interesting to see how this weird and wonderful generation deals with the latter – and what social, personal, and political repercussions they have to deal with. Generation Z have always had their own way of doing things, and their thirst for eccentricity shows no signs of slowing down.

Music article illustration by Mina Tocalini for 360 Magazine

Grow Your Spotify Plays Overnight

If you are looking for more Spotify exposure, then you can join the millions of other Spotify artists that are trying to do the same thing. However, it feels like all we are ever doing is just treading water. We post songs and playlists only to have them fall into oblivion. They never see the light of day and never get a hit. 

Promotions seem to go nowhere. It doesn’t matter how many times you Tweet out a link to your music. It all ends up the same way, low plays, low streams, and low follows. It doesn’t have to be this way. It doesn’t have to be so hard. You have to be proactive about your marketing, but you also need to focus on the metrics that will actually improve your Spotify rankings. Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook are all great places to start but you won’t grow a following unless you hit the below metrics. Once you understand what you need to do, just rinse and repeat. You will soon be basking in the glow of plays.

You need to market your music by increase your play and follower metrics. You need to buy Spotify plays. This common practice will get your listings over the hump to be seen by a new crowd.

Why Improve Your Plays?

The Spotify algorithm is specific to Spotify platform metrics. This means that you need to focus on improving your Spotify platform numbers. Like what was mentioned above, exposure on other platforms is great but it will only get you so far. You need those marketing events to convert into Spotify metrics.

The first metric you need to improve is the play count. This could be connected to an album, playlist, or a specific song. It all depends on what your goals are for your artistic talents. Song pay count tells the Spotify algorithm that people are listening to your stuff. It shows that you are relevant and significant to the current music scene. It could be based on a genre of music or just the industry as a whole. 

Plays matter over the course of time. If you have a bunch of plays in a single day, it isn’t going to boost anything for very long. You may appear higher in the algorithm for the next 24 hours, but afterwards you will be forgotten, again. Instead you want to think about the long term. More plays overtime is the better philosophy. So, if you got 100 plays, it is better to have 1 a day for 100 days than all 100 plays in the same day. 

Why Improve Your Followers?

Remember that it isn’t just about plays. If you stuff gets played a bunch, that is great, but it isn’t the end of the story. If you are looking to solidify a top spot in the Spotify algorithm, you need to show that it isn’t just about your music, it is about you as an artist. Take a band like Radiohead. Their music is wildly popular. However, Radiohead as a band is popular as well. So, if they were still making music, they would be recommended alongside similar artists because the “followers” action shows that it is more than just a single song or two that makes them so important.

This is obvious. When you look at other social media platforms you see the same actions taking place. Instagram and Facebook are the best examples of the potential for ranking improvements when there are more followers, not just likes or shares. The Spotify algorithm takes in the totality of the artist’s metrics in order to decide how worthy they are to be recommended to other listeners. Once you get there, royalties will start to improve as organic listeners start to steadily increase with time.

Are Certain Listeners Better Than Others?

Yes, certain Spotify listeners are more important than others. However, you want a mix of all types of listeners in order to really impress the algorithm. What does this mean? There are generally two types of Spotify listeners and they can interact with your account in one of two ways. So, basically, there are four different results that could happen. Let’s go through them.

First, you could have a free listener listen to a song once. This individual has the least amount of impact on your account. Second, you could have a free listener continually listen to your music. This has more impact because it shows that an individual really likes your stuff and wants to listen to it more and more.

Third, you could have a paid premium listener listen to a song once. This has some impact due to a higher royalty payment that comes from premium members. Fourth, you could have a paid premium listen subscribe and continually listen to your music. This has the largest impact of all of them. Make sure that when you are buying Spotify plays that you focus on the mix of different listeners.

Rita Azar illustrates relationship article for 360 MAGAZINE

Important Tips When Vacationing with Your Special Someone

Traveling is an enjoyable activity, most especially if you are with the one you love. Sunrises and sunsets become more beautiful, the food seemingly tastes better, and any cultural barriers become more of an experience to laugh at than an irritant.

So, all your custom research papers are written, vacation is about to start, your clothes are ready and tickets are waiting for you to take them and go. But if you are together and unprepared, things might not go the way you planned. Here are some things to consider when vacationing with your special someone.

#1 Agree upon what you’d like to do together

A common source of conflict when vacationing together is that one person is dictating the terms. He or she says what tourist sites they will visit, where they will eat, what souvenirs to buy, and even what time of the day they will do all these things. While the other partner may give in at first, it eventually becomes a pain.

Instead, the couple should discuss what they’d like to do together before going on the trip, including possible dos and don’ts. While spontaneity can be fun and romantic, if your partner is really against doing something (swimming with the sharks, jumping out of a plane, or eating scorpions), then there should be no reason to force them.

#2 Be patient when difficulties crop up

When traveling, difficulties of some sort usually crop up, such as misplacing your tickets, leaving the cellphone charger at the hotel, or forgetting to pick something up on your supply run at the local store. It is important to stay patient. Snapping at each other over such minor inconveniences will ruin the mood for your trip.

This patience is also necessary when dealing with the locals. Cultural and language differences may cause you to become impatient. But dealing rudely with them may get you into further trouble, or it may even irritate your partner who just wants to have a good time.

#3 Give each other space

Even in your locale, it is important to give one another space. 

This is also true when visiting a new place. If the place is safe, it is good to allow one another to explore the area alone for a time. If not that safe, then give one another time to lounge alone, read a magazine, or even watch a favorite show. You will find that after some alone time, you and your partner will be ready to enjoy things together again.

#4 Enjoy your time together

A vacation together is supposed to strengthen your bond as a couple. So ensure that you are both having fun. That’s why it is inadvisable to bring work with you as much as possible.  

If you notice that one of you is not enjoying the trip, find ways to make it more fun. Think of what you can both do to bring more life to your trip. It could be visiting something not on your itinerary, having a coffee at a local café, or just watching the sunset together.

Summary

It’s a blessing to have the chance to travel together. Take advantage of such time, and make it enjoyable by considering the tips above.

Has eSports Become a Part of Pop Culture?

A couple of decades ago, when video games burst into the mainstream audience for good, everyone could have guessed that gaming would soon become an important part of the entertainment industry. But what no one could have predicted is just how popular it would become not to play video games yourself, but to watch other people play. So popular in fact, that competitive video gaming, i.e. eSports, has slowly but steadily grown to become an important part of pop culture. But how and why did eSports gain so much momentum?

eSports expand their reach into the mainstream audience

When the first organized competitive gaming tournaments emerged where professional players vie for a prize, analysts very aptly dubbed the new practice “eSports”. And research reported by the Influencer Marketing Hub reveals that this new industry has quickly expanded its appeal and gained unprecedented growth. In 2017, eSports reached an audience of 335 million viewers, which climbed to 380 million in 2018. It is now estimated that until 2021 that number will reach roughly 557 million, exhibiting an annual growth rate of 14%. Out of those, 250 million will be regular viewers but another 307 million will be casual spectators. This means that casual viewers will constitute the majority of the eSports audience.

Furthermore, according to the same source, even people who do not watch eSports have still heard of them. In 2015, an impressive 800,000 people were aware of the industry. But a year later, over a billion people have reportedly heard of eSports – a jaw-dropping growth. In 2019 alone, eSports awareness was estimated to have reached 1.57 billion people around the world. The combination of these two facts, i.e. the number of casual viewers and the tremendous growth in awareness, lead us to the conclusion that eSports has now become an important part of pop culture.

How eSports became a part of pop culture

But if you want even more proof, just take a closer look at eSports betting. That’s right: betting sites now consider eSports as a sub-category of the traditional realm of sports betting, and punters can place wagers on the biggest eSports tournament just like they would on the NBA finals or the Super Bowl. It is no surprise, when you consider the hype surrounding the biggest eSports competitions. In 2019, the League of Legends World Championship gathered an audience of almost 4 million viewers, and the Fortnite World Cup Finals amassed an impressive 2.3 million. Speaking of Fortnite, it is perhaps the game that best encapsulates how video gaming and eSports are now part of pop culture in their own right.

Who could forget the iconic and hilarious scene in Avengers: Endgame that saw Thor compete against “Noobmaster69” on Fortnite? Just like people are still not over the live concert series that now takes place within the Fortnite game. Travis Scott was the first to take the leap of faith and performed virtually to raving reviews. Now, the digital concerts continue, with J Balvin reportedly set to headline the Fortnite Halloween Concert series, in a perfect blend of these divergent strands of pop culture that has had audiences going wild. Much like the music industry, other sectors have realized the potential of eSports and gaming that allows them to reach to a wider audience and are jumping at the chance. For example, Oakley has already announced that they would launch a new type of lenses specifically designed for gaming.

If we want to understand better how eSports have so quickly become a part of pop culture, we also need to look at the channels that enabled them to connect with their audience. Millennials are now in their 20s and 30s, and they have grown up in an increasingly digital world. Watching their favorite gamers play live on Twitch or YouTube, and interacting with them on chat or social media was an organic way for them to connect. Steven Spielberg’s recent blockbuster Ready Player One took the concept one step further. In a dystopian future, taking place in a VR gaming tournament has become the one shot its protagonist has at fixing everything wrong with the world – competitive gaming has somehow turned into something more real than real life itself.

For the young adults that are right now the driving force behind market trends, and are shaping pop culture, eSports are an integral part of life and culture.

Rita Azar illustrates relationship article for 360 MAGAZINE

The Top 5 Most Important Qualities a Guy Should Have

Are you restarting your dating life but find yourself swiping left a little too often? When you’re outing the dating world, it can be hard to find the right balance. Although we don’t want to “settle” for a person, we also don’t want to discount men.

We’re here to help you along your way. You always can try to meet a right person on Promenad, but first of all read on for the top five qualities on what to look for in a man so that you can date with intention. 

1. He’s Respectful

Your man knows that your time is valuable, and he respects it by making sure that he’s present when you’re together. He’s interested in your opinion about topics and gives you a platform to voice them.

He’s also upfront about what he wants in a relationship and doesn’t lead you on. Lastly, you feel free to live your own life without his micromanagement or what he believes is “better.”

2. He’s Supportive

You’ll know a man is supportive if you feel as if you can talk about your life, career aspirations, and goals without judgment. He trusts the decisions you make and will often back you up on them–not make you feel as if you need to constantly second-guess your decisions.

Best of all, supportive men are often good listeners. They’ll give you the silence you need and won’t frequently interrupt.

3. He’s Honest

They’ll be times when your man disagrees with a decision you’re making, and he’ll let you know in a way that doesn’t diminish your character. You won’t need to second-guess his thoughts or motivations because he’s upfront and doesn’t feel the need to hide. This often leads to better communication, one of the most important aspects of a relationship. If you ask him a question, you don’t feel any doubt in his answer–even if it’s not the one you wanted to hear.

4. He Pays Attention

Men who pay attention are often talented at active listening because they want you to know that you’re being heard. They also have good dating etiquette. When you’re together, he’s good at putting down his phone and giving you his full attention. They’re attentive to your needs because it’s their way of showing that they value you.

5. He’s Happy

A man’s attitude is often a good indicator of their self-confidence. If you find that your man has a constant, pessimistic outlook on the world, they probably have the same view of themselves. You may feel compelled to help him or find that your own mood becomes low when you’re around him. Although it’s not realistic to expect someone to be happy all the time, generally you’ll feel happy and comfortable around someone with a positive attitude. They often have a good sense of humor and smile more.

What Do You Look for in a Guy?

What are you looking for in a man? It’s important to ask yourself this question frequently until you have a definite answer. Once you know what you want in a relationship, it’s far easier to find a man that’s looking for the same theme.

It’s all about trusting your instinct. Pay attention to how you feel when you’re around him. If you feel understood, respected, and cared for, you may have found the one.

BARD COLLEGE illustrated by Rita Azar in 360 MAGAZINE.

BARD COLLEGE – VIRTUAL CEREMOMY

BARD COLLEGE HOLDS ONE HUNDRED SIXTIETH COMMENCEMENT, IN A VIRTUAL CEREMONY, ON SATURDAY, AUGUST 22, 2020

Musician David Byrne Delivered Commencement Address
 
Honorary Degrees Were Awarded to Byrne, Multimedia Artist Laurie Anderson, Physicist Steven Chu, Composer Gao Xiaosong, Curator Thelma Golden,  Brooklyn Public Library President Linda Johnson,  Educational Historian Ellen Condliffe Lagemann, and Biophysicist George Rose ’63.
 
Bard College held its one hundred sixtieth commencement on Saturday, August 22, 2020. In the virtual commencement ceremony streamed live from the Bard College campus, Bard President Leon Botstein conferred 437 undergraduate degrees, in absentia, on the Class of 2020 and 161 graduate degrees, including master of fine arts; doctor and master of philosophy and master of arts in decorative arts, design history, and material culture; master of science and master of arts in economic theory and policy; master of business administration in sustainability; master of arts in teaching; master of arts in curatorial studies; master of science in environmental policy and in climate science and policy; master of music in vocal arts and in conducting; master of music in curatorial, critical, and performance studies; and master of education in environmental education. The program, which took place at 2:30 p.m. in the commencement tent on the Seth Goldfine Memorial Rugby Field, included the presentation of honorary doctoral degrees.
 
Owing to the severity and longevity of the COVID-19 pandemic, the College held a modified commencement. The events and ceremonies were held in real time, but, consistent with public health policies and regulations, access to them was limited.
 
Text (unedited) of commencement address by musician David Byrne:
 
Thank you. Congratulations to the brass ensemble. It’s very difficult to play together when you’re distanced. I heard a story from a musician the other day. There was a socially distanced orchestra that was playing, and some of the musicians said, “You have to gesture bigger, we can’t see you.” So, the conductor had to make it bigger than before, so that everybody could see.
 
This is certainly my first time talking to a live audience … performing, alright, to a live audience in many, many months. It’s kind of strange. It’s kind of wonderful. It’s strange and wonderful to actually be gathered in a group of people this much. I’m encouraged by this institution. I was invited to come here. I have some familiarity with this place. I understand what Bard stands for.

I recently worked with a Bard alumnus named Alex Kalman ’06 on a book. I’ve written about the Bard Prison Initiative, which I think some of you will be familiar with. And, I’ve read some pieces that Mr. Botstein wrote about music.
 
This place is special. I’ve been here, visited here a few times over the years. I saw an exhibition at the gallery in 2008. The gallery had been turned into a re-creation of the artist Keith Edmier’s parents’ house, with all its extreme ’70s décor. It was like walking into a movie set. And, you know, as you walk into a movie set, you know that it’s all fake, but part of you is still seduced into feeling that you’re in that place. There’s this kind of wonderful tension in something like that where you know it’s fake, but you kind of feel like you’re in the place at the same time, between the real and the artificial. We are in a world that someone has made that is just like this world that this artist made of his parents’ house.
 
His world, like our world, is unreliable. It’s based on unreliable memory and imagination. We all do this. We make these artificial worlds. The difference is, we have to live in them. A world that’s made like this, it can be a seductive lie, or it can be a revealing truth. On a thing like this, a commencement, I imagine it’s common to ask oneself, “Well, what comes next for me? What comes next for me as I leave this place? Will I be a different person? Will I be a different person than I was a month ago?” Well, I think we’re all different than we were last week. Things are changing incredibly rapidly. And then you ask, “What person am I now, and how should I be as that person? What do I love? What does that entail? What, if any, are the … obligations? Obligations to myself? Obligations to a larger community? How does one reconcile oneself, between one’s personal rights, one’s personal desires, and those of the community and the collective? What have I learned here? Has the world changed? Has the world changed [laughing] since the spring? It probably has. Has it changed into something far different than the world that I knew? Is that a good thing? Is everything I learned here, at this institution, now meaningless?” I don’t think so.
 
I’m very sorry for the world you inherit. We’ve left you a mess, the one that we made, the world that we made. But, there are reasons to be cheerful. The pandemic has pulled back the curtain, which has revealed both the worst and the best of what and who we are. Arundhati Roy, the writer, referred to this moment as a portal when we have unprecedented opportunity to change things, to cross into another world. In this moment, we have been both cursed and blessed. This is one of those moments that occur once in a while. Ideas that were taken as given, economic ideas, cultural ideas, etc., are being questioned, reconsidered. An era based on a set of biases and assumptions is ending. In a sense, we’re lucky. The portal that she mentions is opened and we have a chance to go through it.
 
I’m as a guilty as anyone else for waking up in the morning and feeling that nothing really changes very much. I have moments of despair and anger and frustration. No surprise. Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote, “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice,” some mornings that feels like an empty platitude when I look at the news that morning. It sometimes feels like, oh, you know, same as it ever was. But that’s not really true. The real constant is change. We often forget or overlook the momentous changes in our thinking that we now accept as obvious, inevitable. But, in truth, nothing was inevitable. The changes that have happened, that we live with now, for better or worse, they’re here because we made them so.
 
Okay, here’s a few of them: slavery is now universally considered unacceptable. Two thousand years ago, Aristotle thought slavery was natural and necessary, but even then his contemporaries argued that it was unacceptable. These changes don’t happen overnight. Okay, here’s another one: women should be allowed to vote. If I said to anyone now that if you heard someone else say, “No, women shouldn’t be allowed to vote,” you would think that was completely ridiculous. It happened in the United States, state by state, one hundred years ago. In Saudi Arabia it happened five years ago, but it happened. Education, primary and secondary education, I think everyone accepts that it should be free, it’s a right for everyone to have it. This was not always true. Children were considered cheap labor. Eventually, maybe higher education will be considered a right as well. Interracial marriage: I think we all accept this now. We all accept this. It seems like, what’s the big deal? The Supreme Court made a ruling legalizing interracial marriage in 1967—not that long ago. Alabama has some laws on the books that counteracted the Supreme Court ruling, and those were overturned 20 years ago. Okay, gay marriage, we all know that this is now law, this is now legal. When I was a young person, if someone had told me that this would be legal and generally accepted, I would have said, “You’re crazy, this should happen, but it’s going to take forever.” But, just five years ago, in 2015, it was recognized as legal in all 50 states.
 
I can go on—infrastructure, clean air, clean water, things that don’t exist for us entirely now, but we do think of them as our right, and these ideas that we consider as part of our lives and how it is to live and how it is to be, it didn’t always have to be that way. It wasn’t always that way. This is something new in the world, and the world has changes. These changes weren’t predictable, and they weren’t inevitable. I’m a little older than some of you, and I can say that some of these changes, they weren’t expected. They weren’t expected to happen as soon as they did, and when they did, then they seemed inevitable. People make these changes. Things that seemed impossible have happened, and they will continue to happen. Try and imagine what radical and momentous changes in our thinking might happen next, and they will! We can imagine what they might be.
 
Okay, make no mistake, things can go wrong, things can go the other way. This country was ever so closely inching towards democracy, but, as in many other countries around the world, there’s been some serious backsliding. There’s no guarantee that change will be good. That part is up to us. And, so I ask myself, “How did these changes happen? Where’s the levers? Where’s the buttons? What’s the process? What can we, as a lone individual or with a little group of people, what can we do to have an effect?” I supposed you might ask yourselves the same questions. “Does my line of work have any wider resonance?” Not that every line of work has to focus directly or solely on social justice. I believe that the meaning of what we do, in our work and our lives, is more subtle than that. I’ll use myself as an example, okay? Most of the time I’m a performer and a musician, and it seems to me that music and performance affects people’s view of the world, not directly, not by me writing a song about climate policy or housing inequities, although I might like to do that. Rather, it works in a less didactic and not kind of text-based ways. It’s kind of a language without words. Music creates community. When I was young, I heard music on a little radio that was about the size of a phone. And, I realized when I heard this music that there was a world out there that was very different and wider than the little suburban town that I lived in. You’ve heard people say things like, “That song saved my life” or “That DJ saved my life,” and these are kind of clichés, but there’s a truth to it. Music can have that kind of effect. It reveals a larger world, and it brings people together because they know that there are other people out there like them. For someone else, it might not be music that has this effect. It might be the visual arts, theater, cooking, dance. It might be ways of thinking in education, sustainability, even economics can touch people about a new idea and it changes their thinking.
 
I also think that one discipline needs to influence all the others. There needs to be a lot of curiosity about what’s going on in other disciplines, and one discipline can, in surprising ways, affect another one. When I heard the music of James brown, as a young man, I came to realize that here is music where no one part is more important than any other. The melody is not played by one instrument, but it emerges out of the interlocking parts played by all the instruments. The groove is not just played by the drums, but it comes into being as a result of what everyone is doing. I sensed that, unlike traditional Western music, Brown’s music is nonhierarchical. In his musical model, we’re given an audio metaphor. We hear, metaphorically, a model of social organization and cooperation that makes us feel joyous and transported. We’re not kind of intellectually going through all of this, but I feel that we sense it. Here I sense is a social and economic argument made with music, and the transcendent feeling it brings, when you hear and experience it, is more persuasive that language. Music proposes a world. Metaphorically, it gives evidence of that possibility. An economist hearing James Brown might possibly see the world the same way. Of course, my model for cross-disciplinary influences comes from music, but it can go the other way as well.
 
I’m going to mention the first abstract artist, Hilma af Klint, who was influenced by spiritualism that was prevalent over a hundred years ago, turn of the last century. It had been proposed that one of the reasons for the wide enthusiasm for this spiritualism was because of the scientific discoveries that were happening at that time. The science was showing that there were invisible forces in our world. Electromagnetism, radiation, radio waves, X-rays. The entire world, ourselves included, are affected by these invisible and pervasive forces. Science proposed this world, a world that hadn’t previously existed in our imagination, and this affected how these artists worked. They realized that what we with see with our eyes is only part of what is there, and artists like af Klint and others began to attempt the abstractions to represent this world, a world of energy that go through buildings and go through our bodies. So, with art and science, we conjure worlds, and, over time, we who conjure these worlds, we ourselves change, and then worlds that we conjure, those change as well.
 
A couple of years ago, after I finished a music tour that lasted almost a year, I decided to go to India. I wanted to catch a traditional music festival in Chennai. It was wonderful. I saw a kid, this young kid in a kind of Elvis outfit playing Carnatic music on a saxophone. I saw singers communicating with drummers with their hands. And, I also went to Kerala, which is another state in the south, and there’s a kind of performance there called Kudiyattam. It’s an ancient form of dance drama. It’s about a thousand years old. In this dance drama, the performer begins the performance by metaphorically dancing into existence and kind of proposing a world. This will be the world that the story will take place in, kind of like Star Wars or Game of Thrones. It’s complete, it has a cosmology, it has a history, every detail. In the dance drama, the world building is not made with sets and props and computers. It’s conjured in the audience’s imagination, via singing and dancing and gesture. Like the actors in this drama, we, in whichever field we endeavor, we also dance a new world into existence—not just in music or theater, every kind of work and activity we engage in proposes a world. In the end of the Kudiyattam performance, the actors dismantle the world that they have made. Likewise, we destroy an old world, a worn-out world, the one we ourselves and others before us have made, so that a new one can be imagined and brought into existence.
 
Thank you.
 
 

ABOUT THE COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER

 
David Byrne’s recent works include the Broadway debut of David Byrne’s American Utopia (2019); launch of Reasons to be Cheerful—an online magazine focused on solutions-oriented stories about problems being solved all over the world (2019); the solo album American Utopia (2018), which was nominated for Best Alternative Album at the 61st Grammy Awards; Joan of Arc: Into the Fire, a theatrical exploration of the historical heroine, which premiered at The Public Theater in New York (2017); The Institute Presents: NEUROSOCIETY, a series of interactive environments created in conjunction with PACE Arts + Technology that question human perception and bias (2016); Contemporary Color, an event inspired by the American folk tradition of color guard and performed at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and Toronto’s Air Canada Centre (2015); Here Lies Love, a 22-song theatrical production about the life of Imelda Marcos, authored in collaboration with Fatboy Slim, which premiered at The Public Theater in New York City (2013), traveled to London’s National Theatre for a sold-out run (2014–15), and was remounted at Seattle Rep (2017); Love This Giant, a studio album and worldwide tour created with St. Vincent (2012); and How Music Works, a book about the history, experience, and social aspects of music (2012).
 
In 2015, Byrne curated Southbank Centre’s annual Meltdown festival in London. A cofounder of the group Talking Heads (1976–88), he has released nine studio albums and worked on multiple other projects, including collaborations with Brian Eno, Twyla Tharp, Robert Wilson, and Jonathan Demme, among others. He also founded the highly respected record label Luaka Bop. Recognition of Byrne’s various works include Obie, Drama Desk, Lortel, and Evening Standard Awards for Here Lies Love; an Oscar, Grammy, and Golden Globe for the soundtrack to Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor; and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Talking Heads. Byrne has published and exhibited visual art since his college days, including photography, filmmaking, and writing. He lives in New York City.