I <3 art. It’s in our human DNA to create and share. The studio. The lab. I especially enjoy the beta-testing period and results, even if they bring back different info I was hoping for. I enjoy talking to people on my team and doing walk-throughs to make sure all elements are working in harmony.
I’m also a cook. I have cooked professionally in restaurants and created a pop-up with a friend in New Orleans, and taught cooking classes in Brooklyn. This is also about making art, telling a story, working out execution within constraints, , teamwork and inclusivity, and creating a moment or an experience, often to spec.
MTV turned the classic movie Scream into a TV series, which was mostly shot in Baton Rouge. I was living in New Orleans at the time, where I was working on small art projects with friends pretty consistently, so I was happy to work as a set decorator, communicating with other departments (namely props), making sure that everything was as it should be, and maintaining continuity. I usually feel among my tribe in the art department.
When Facebook first created original content, this series Untangled was a part of it. I was in Episode 1. I showed up with some other dancers and we came up with a concept, ran through it a couple times, and shot it. It was fun.
It can be a pleasure to show up for another artist and offer to jump in on whatever they need. There’s something relaxing about being told what the vision and specs are, and settling into the chill work of making it with your hands.
In New York, I’ve helped Dana Barnes with felting for large scale work, and with writing copy. I assisted with pattern and textile assembly for an installation at the Mix Festival. In Tucson, I assisted friends who were creating an installation for a New Year’s Eve party at the Rialto Theater, and in New Orleans, I assisted artist Mary DiPasquale with a mural at a swimming school (I painted the jellyfish).
With the Columbia Digital Storytelling Lab, I was able to further explore several growing interests: the impact of Artificial Intelligence in our daily lives, and the design of Interactive Experiences. In the New Frontiers category of Sundance in 2018, I helped lead one of three beats that made up the interactive experience called Frankenstein: AI.
The Objective: to provoke conversation and exploration around AI, allowing us to build an algorithm powered by emotional data. To do that, we brought diverse groups to surface stories and incite discussion around what it means to be human. The project works to combat algorithmic bias, one conversation at a time.
On a project that partnered with SAFE-Lab, I helped create a script that crafted the beats for this narrative experience that asked the question: What if we built an environment inspired by complex negative questions on social media platforms and in the real world? Within this environment, situations quickly escalate. BUt this time, we would be able to do something about it.
Creating a script, or at least beats, and tweaking it during the walk-through is one of my favorite parts of experiential design. I love the bones and intention it gives to a project. But during the beta-run, I came to understand a principle about creating a safe space. My show-business instinct told me to cut a moment off just before it fully died, but in this case, we were asking people to be vulnerable and share experiences. Once people open up in a setting like this, timing took on a different value.
While living in New Orleans, I orchestrated and hosted a cold reading series in a courtyard in the French Quarter, where local actors read the work of local writers. I based it loosely on Naked Angels in New York, a cold reading series I sometimes attend. I’m proud of everyone in my NOLA family who submitted work, acted it out with very little prep, and came together to keep practicing our crafts.
I conceived and executed this pop-up in 2015 in New Orleans along with my friend and super-talented chef, writer, and co-producer of The Racist Sandwich Podcast, Soleil Ho.
We called it Saigon With the Wind and served Vietnamese brunch out of Solo Espresso in the Bywater. New Orleans is a food town, and pop-ups are one of the ways that cooks without their own space are supported. It was a learning experience for real, and I would encourage everyone to support chefs doing pop-ups when possible. Don’t forget to tip ;)
In 2008, I managed four separate Greenmarkets: One by Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx, one at Mount Sinai Hospital, one at a Hungarian Church on the Upper East Side, and one in East Harlem. My job took place on the sidewalk and had plenty of operations aspects to it, but I spent most of my day talking to people on the sidewalk. I loved doing educational outreach, but it was really me that was getting an education. The Farmer’s Markets took Food Stamps (then called WIC, now called SNAP), and at the time had a program called Health Bucks, where for every five dollars spent with Food Stamps on produce came an additional two dollar coupon. I wish everyone could see how this program allowed people to eat more and better. My time there influenced me in many ways, and shaped my thinking around the underlying messages of our human right to eat well.
From 2007-2013, I was a Community Food Educator with this incredible non-profit. I gave cooking demonstrations at community centers, senior centers, summer camps, CSA pickup sites, community gardens, farmer’s markets, and so on. The recipes I came up with were based on whatever produce was in that week, so it was an interesting challenge. Again, I learned as much if not more than I taught.
Starting in 2018, I’ve been a chef instructor for the Brooklyn Kitchen. At the end of 2018 they closed the Williamsburg location and are now solely based in Sunset Park. While today’s culture tends to focus on talking about, watching and photographing food, less emphasis has been placed on where it comes from and how to prepare it. The Brooklyn Kitchen aims to change that by teaching technique and confidence and instilling curiosity.
I collaborated with several educators to put together a six-hour (!) day class that covered basics and ended in a meal we enjoyed together at Essex Street Academy high school in the lower east side.