SpotlightYouth Spotlight

Ana Cvetković is a recent graduate of the George Washington University where she studied Journalism and Mass Communications. Having been surrounded by journalism while growing up, it was only natural that Ana would pursue it in her studies and career. Originally from Belgrade in Serbia, Ana’s stateside home is now the east coast. Ana is also the founder of the beloved food blog, Better Than Ramen, where she blogs about her visits to restaurants around the world. Furthermore, Ana has gotten into cooking recently, and she documents the food she cooks and enjoys.

A little fun fact about Ana: she is profiled in our book, Youth’s Highest Honor. Ana shares her motivations for earning the Congressional Award and what she did to earn her Gold Medal from Congress.

Read on to learn more about what qualities Ana thinks makes a strong intern, what putting a blog post together looks like, and how she defines seizing her youth.

Name: Ana Cvetković
Education: Journalism and Mass Communications at the George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs
Follow: Better Than Ramen / @betterthanramen / FacebookLinkedIn

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth”?

Ana Cvetković: Seizing Your Youth is about taking advantage of opportunities that are given to you. It’s about saying yes to those opportunities and giving them a shot to figure out whether or not they are right for you. When you are young, people are more willing to help you out, so you should take advantage of that opportunity. Seizing Your Youth is also about making opportunities for yourself. I started my food blog, Better Than Ramen, because I knew I could write about food well without doing it for someone else’s blog or organization.

CJ: You studied journalism and communications in college. What led you to those academic passions and why did you choose to study them in a formal setting?

AC: I’ve always been surrounded by journalism. Growing up in Belgrade, I would see my grandmother read Politika, Serbia’s newspaper of record, every day. When I moved to America, I fell in love with American Girl magazine. I remember the first issue I read was February 2000 and it had these ideas for throwing a slumber party and I thought they were so much fun. The magazine tapped into my creative side. As I grew older, I began subscribing to magazines. Whenever an issue would come to my mailbox, I tried my hardest to make it last me the whole month. So it was my love of reading magazines that made me consider a career in journalism. While I still love writing, my coursework at George Washington University and internships with the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and the Smithsonian have made me fall in love with video production.

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CJ: What cause or issue do you care greatly about and why?

AC: While it’s neither a cause nor an issue, I believe that everyone should travel the world. Many people have shallow worldviews because they don’t know what else is out there so they think their way of life is the best. I was born in Belgrade, Serbia and moved to the US when I was very young. I grew up speaking Serbian and spending my summers in Belgrade. Besides having two passports, I feel like I have a dual identity. When I’m in the U.S., I notice how my Serbian values and traditions differentiate me from my peers. When I’m in Serbia, I feel American because I don’t quite fit in there either. I have a unique perspective because of my dual identity and travels. I’m not saying that the solution to all of the world’s problems can be solved through travel, but connecting with people of different nationalities, races, and cultures can remind us that we are all human.

CJ: You earned the Congressional Award Gold Medal in 2013. How did you get involved with the Congressional Award and what was your biggest takeaway from the experience?

AC: My high school had a strong service-learning program. Many of my friends got involved with the Congressional Award and they said it would look good to colleges and help them get scholarships. My high school’s service learning coordinator, Mary Rodgers, helped me get started and served as my mentor throughout my journey. My biggest takeaway from participating in the Congressional Award experience is that I can achieve my biggest goals with the help of organization, patience and persistence. It made me more disciplined.

CJ: You write your own food blog called “Better Than Ramen.” What prompted you to create that website and what has been the greatest part about blogging so far?

AC: I think all great ventures begin out of boredom. A few months before I launched the blog, and at the end of my freshman year at GWU, I was having lunch over the summer with two friends who were just heading off to college. One of them was going to school in Boston, another in Philadelphia and I was already attending school in Washington. We were at a Middle Eastern restaurant and we were all taking pictures of our food – this was way before the days of Instagram. I thought it would be cool to document our dining adventures in these three great cities, so I set up the blog, but months passed and we never did anything with it. A few months later, I went out to brunch with a bunch of friends on New Year’s Day while I was home for winter break. The next day I felt bored, as most college students probably do when they are home for a break. Inspired by the brunch, I decided to revisit my blog idea. I wrote my first post and the rest is history.

I had started several blogs in the past, but they never lasted long because they didn’t have a theme. I knew I could keep up a food blog because I have to eat, so whether it’s a meal at a restaurant or something I whipped up at home, I would always have something to write about.

The greatest part of blogging is having people tell me that they love reading my blog (or even that they’ve heard of it!). Part of the reason I gave up on past blogs was because I felt like no one was reading them. BTR is like an online diary for me because I have so many memories associated with the meals I’ve had. However, the blog is still written as a guide with practical information, so it’s thrilling when I hear that people have gone to a restaurant that I’ve suggested. It’s rewarding and empowering knowing that I’ve influenced someone.

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CJ: You are passionate about writing and sharing information about food with your BTR audience. What is the process of creating a post and how much time is required?

AC: The process is pretty quick at the restaurant. When the meals come to the table, my friends or boyfriend or whomever I’m dining with know to not touch their meals until I’ve snapped a picture (thanks for putting up with me!). I’ll usually ask my friends for a bite or two of their dishes, or for them to describe their meals. Then I take notes of my impressions or their thoughts on the Notes app on my phone. I try to be as unobtrusive as possible when I’m eating out with a group of friends, but they’re gracious and are used to my picture taking at this point.

When I go to write a post, it could take anywhere from an hour to a few days, depending on how excited I was about the meal. I typically take photos with my phone, which isn’t great in low lighting situations, so I spend time touching up the photos so that the lighting quality doesn’t distract from the post. Then I write my review, do some research on the restaurant, and insert the photos. After that, I create social media posts for the new article to make sure it gets to as many readers as possible.

CJ: You spent your senior year at GW interning for the Office of Communications and Public Affairs at Smithsonian Institution. What are your top three tips for being a strong intern?

AC: 1) Have a specialty. At the Smithsonian, I produced, filmed, and edited videos for the Seriously Amazing marketing campaign. I was the office expert when it came to using our cameras and video editing software because I’ve used them in class and my past internships. My colleagues had tons of experience in other areas of public affairs that I didn’t know much about, but I was an important part of the team because I had expertise in an area that others didn’t know as well.

2) Always ask for more work. Show that you’re eager by taking on extra assignments. An internship is really what you make it, so if you’re okay with just doing the bare minimum, you won’t impress anyone and you won’t learn all that you can. Do as much as you can to learn what you enjoy doing.

3) Learn from your co-workers. Asking your co-workers about what they do and how they got there flatters them and gives you insight into career options in your field. This is especially useful if you don’t know exactly what you want to do. Your colleagues could also put you in touch with other people they know at places you may want to work.

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CJ: Every day in your life must be different depending on work and the time of year, but what does a Monday look like for you?

AC: My Mondays are atypical right now because I just graduated and am looking for a job, so I’ll describe my typical Monday during my last semester at GWU. I only had one class on Mondays, so I was one of the lucky few who didn’t have to wake up to an alarm that day. I’d sleep until I was well rested, make myself breakfast, then go to my American Architecture lecture. I was out at 2 p.m. so I was free to do as I pleased if I’d taken care of my schoolwork.

I’ve really taken advantage of living in DC by thoroughly exploring the city. I minored in art history, so one of my favorite spots to spend time in is the National Gallery. It’s less touristy than the Smithsonians, so you can easily occupy one of the comfy couches they have in each gallery and read, study, or sketch for a few quiet hours while taking in masterpieces by Rubens or Fragonard.

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CJ: What is an area, either personal or professional, that you are working to improve in and how?

AC: I’m always looking for new ways to improve Better Than Ramen. Now that I’ve graduated from college and am on the job hunt, I have a little more time to dedicate to growing the site. I’m looking into forming partnerships with brands and local businesses to create exciting new content. I’m also hoping to introduce videos to the site because I have the skillset to do so and because multimedia storytelling would add another dimension to my writing.

CJ: Having a loaded schedule can sometimes be overwhelming. What do you do when you’re having a bad day and need to unwind or reset?

AC: If I’m drained and stressed out, I unwind with a cup of tea and Netflix. House Hunters International is my guilty pleasure because I was born in Belgrade, Serbia and have traveled a lot so I love seeing how people live around the world. If I’m dealing with a stressful situation I need to talk it out, so I’ll call my family or my boyfriend to work through the problem.

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

AC: When senior year of high school comes around, don’t take AP Physics. You don’t need to take the most difficult class your school offers, especially because physics has absolutely nothing to do with your college major! In high school we are taught to take everything so seriously and that everything will look good or bad to colleges, which will then look good or bad to employers. Stay focused, but don’t take everything so seriously!

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Images by Ana Cvetković

Book PostsTravel

There’s no shortage of activities and sites to see in Washington, D.C. Our nation’s capital is an energetic hub of history and progress. Whether you’re attending school, interning on The Hill, or landmark hopping, D.C. is an exciting place to be. The last time we were in D.C., we were earning our Congressional Award Gold Medals. Before and after the ceremony, however, we took advantage of being in close proximity to iconic memorials and landmarks.

You likely won’t be able to fit in all that the city has to offer in one trip, so we narrowed down our list into the top 10 must-see places, both popular and off the beaten path.

1.  The White House

2. The Lincoln Memorial

3. The Thomas Jefferson Memorial

4. National Gallery of Art

5. Smithsonian Museums

6. The Roof of the Kennedy Center

7. Arlington National Cemetery

8. Visit the Library of Congress

9. Hike or bike along the Potomac River

10. Explore Dumbarton Oaks

What are your favorite things to do in Washington, D.C.?

Image: Vadim Sherbakov

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

Meet Emily Armstrong. She’s sweet, thoughtful, and insanely talented. At just 23 years old, she is a graphic designer at Barneys New York and is tasked with projects such as creating woodland creature masks for children, designing posters for brand invitations, and collaborating on exclusive cosmetic bags that are incredibly chic.

Passionate about art and illustrating, Emily raves about modern art, her love of design, and how she one day hopes to live in Paris. She is a big-time reader and loves to spend her free time at The Strand. We’re big fans of Emily and her work, and we love the best advice she’s ever received: ‘Make yourself proud every day’ and ‘Focus on your cool.’ It’s pretty obvious that she’s got the cool part down pat.

Name: Emily Armstrong
Age: 23
Education: B.F.A. in Graphic Design and Drawing from the University of Missouri-Columbia
Follow: Blog / Portfolio / Instagram

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Emily Armstrong: I realized that when I was in school, I had such an advantage. People were more likely to reach out to me because I was a student and young. They were willing to share advice because they didn’t see me as competition yet. Seizing my youth meant realizing that I was at such an advantageous place and not letting that hinder me but taking advantage of it.

CJ: You received your BFA in Graphic Design and Drawing from the University of Missouri-Columbia. What sparked your love of design?

EA: My love of art came before my love of design. Art started for me when I was very young. In second grade I was drawing caricatures of my classmates. I realized that I liked to draw clothes and people, but design came later. In college I decided to study art, and my parents were a little hesitant. They introduced graphic design to me as a more marketable skill. I ended up loving it after I took a few classes. Those classes sparked my love for design.

Design is everywhere. The visual language is more personal when you’re so close to design.

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CJ: What was your favorite class in college?

EA: I loved multicultural literature. We read a book about a different culture every few weeks and discussed it and gave presentations. I love reading, and I think it’s a romantic skill and related to art from a storytelling aspect.

I liked my beginning physics class a lot.

My favorite class was my portfolio class. Our first assignment was to create 20 images in any medium, and we only had a couple of weeks. The professor just wanted us to start hashing out our ideas that we had built up and to not overthink the images we were making. I ended up with a lot of cool images that I’m still proud of even though it was my junior year in college. I’m inspired to continue adding on to that body of work.

CJ: You are a Graphic Designer at Barneys New York. What does your role entail?

EA: I’m a print graphic designer, so I make our print collateral – things from signage in the stores to books and catalogs in the mail and invitations for events. I can be really creative with these projects. For example, if a designer uses a print in their collection a lot, we might pull that image and make it a liner in the envelope. I love seeing the finished product and having it in your hands.

Right now I’m working on a special project that is in collaboration with Baz Luhrmann, and I get to do some fun drawings. I drew masks of woodland animals for children who come visit the stores. Barneys gives me the freedom to use my skills and have freedom with my work. I’m so excited to be a part of the Baz campaign – he’s a hero of mine.

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CJ: You’ve interned at some amazing places such as Donna Karan and Barneys New York. What are your biggest takeaways from these experiences?

EA: A lot of my experience with Donna Karan was really about New York. It was about getting acclimated to New York as well as the internship. No one thought it was lame that I was from Missouri – I thought I was going to stick out like a sore thumb.

I felt really empowered by the city and having this internship. I had never learned about fabric before, and my internship was in the fabric department. They would give me a swatch of fabric and I had to source it in the city. I had to find a similar weight and content of that fabric swatch with a specific price point. I was set free to do the project, and while that might seem overwhelming, to be able to complete a task like that and do it well was the most empowering thing. Donna Karan was about me feeling confident with myself and in the city.

My Barneys internship was instrumental in getting my job now. Because I had the New York experience before, I learned a lot of skills and how to be detail-oriented. I was learning from the best, and this internship was helpful with my aesthetic sensibility.

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CJ: You were a Student Ambassador for Stylitics, the largest digital closet platform on the web. What were your duties as a Student Ambassador?

EA: That was such a crazy chapter in my life because during my first summer here there was a Parsons program put on that I attended. At the networking brunch, I met the founders of Stylitics and they asked me to be a part of this program. My duties were to spread the word about Stylitics, so I did street style photography on-campus, I talked to student reporters, and generated buzz for this company.

The founders wanted to start a high school program, and my sister was in high school at the time, and I offered to help make a promotional poster. A reporter from the Wall Street Journal saw my poster and she reached out. The conversation was about Stylitics and the ambassador program, but I formed that bond with her and ended up being in that huge newspaper.

CJ: What is the best part about being a designer? The most challenging part?

EA: I love arranging elements, making beautiful compositions, and making textures with text.

The most challenging part is my tendency to always want to illustrate everything. I can’t help it. Restraining myself from illustrating, creating something graphic, and working with type.

CJ: Every day in your life must be different depending on your projects and the time of year, but what does a Monday look like for you?

EA: I like to wake up a little early at 8am so I can make my French press coffee and bagel, and then take some time to read. I get ready, take the train to Rockefeller Center. Recently I’ve been working on a brand’s invitation and poster. After work I love going to yoga. I encourage everyone to do yoga – you get strong, healthy, and energized. Then I go home and eat leftovers.

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CJ: Having a loaded schedule can sometimes be overwhelming. What do you do when you’re having a bad day and need to unwind or reset?

EA: I try not to let it show in the office ever. After work it’s nice to do some cardio so your brain can be free. Taking that energy from the stress and replacing it in a better way is so important.

CJ: What is your favorite book?

EA: Just Kids by Patti Smith or 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

EA: If you don’t like volleyball, that’s okay. Focus your attention somewhere else. You don’t have to be the best at everything. You should not feel lame about wanting to do art, embrace the music you like, and don’t be overwhelmed with social situations. There’s a huge reset button when you graduate high school. Do the best you can and not be wrapped up. I’m so happy for all the reset buttons in my life!

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Images: Emily Armstrong; Lauren Jessen

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

If the first interaction you have with Roxanne Goldberg is reading through her C.V., be prepared for extreme intimidation. It reads fluidly and cohesively, with her incredible experiences fully show-cased and ready to inspire jaw-dropping moments of awe and admiration. While her career-oriented endeavors have been extensive in length and type, they have been equally passion-driven and purposeful in their makeup. Roxanne’s ongoing pursuits of intellectual and professional improvement are revealed in the hard work and commitment she delivers to every responsibility she takes on.

But when you sit down with Roxanne in person, nearly all traces of seriousness and intimidation fade – engaging, warm, and curious, Roxanne directs her efforts at trying to find out about what matters to the people around her. (Half an hour could pass before you realize you’ve spent more time talking about yourself and attempting to answer any number of thought-provoking questions Roxanne has sent your way.) Incredibly thoughtful and eager to discover, it’s no wonder that Roxanne has managed to cultivate such a strong network of personal and professional ties.

We hope you enjoy this wonderful Spotlight of Roxanne as much as we enjoyed having the opportunity to put it together. She is, quite simply, inspiring.

Name: Roxanne Goldberg
Age: 21
Education: B.A. in Art History from The George Washington University (Graduating Dec. 2014) | Art and Its Markets at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London | Human Relations and Effective Communications at the Dale Carnegie Institute in Washington, DC
Work: Curator at Gallery 102 at The George Washington University | Contributing Writer for Hi-Fructose Magazine | Curatorial Intern at The Walters Art Museum
Follow: Website | LinkedIn

Carpe Juvenis: How would you define “Seizing Your Youth”?

Roxanne Goldberg: To seize your youth is to be honest with yourself and to do want you want to do when it feels right for you in your head, your heart and your stomach.

To seize your youth is to forget the immense pressures put on young people by their parents, by their teachers, and by their overachieving peers, and to take time for self reflection, to understand what is best for not just your academic or professional goals, but for what is equally and often more important, your personal health and inner desires.

CJ: What drew you to art to begin with? What keeps you hooked?

RG: Growing up, I was always surrounded by art. My mother was an interior designer and some of my earliest memories are picking out pieces of granite in stone yards. Whenever my family traveled, we visited museums and my parents always bought art from local artisans. I hadn’t thought about art as playing a central role in my life (in fact, I came to GW to study political science), but I now realize early exposure to art has largely shaped who I am and how I perceive the world today.

Art history is such a fascinating field of study because there is always something new to learn. A former boss of mine once said art history is what all the cool nerds end up studying. In many ways, I think he was right. A good art historian is an expert not only on methods and materials, but also on the social sciences, economics and political history, among other topics like languages, religion and philosophy. And yet, it’s a very social field. There is always an active discourse and it is impossible to be bored.

CJ: Could you please tell me more about your work as a curator? Do you have a favorite exhibition you’ve put together?

RG: While I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to produce exhibitions at GW and one while studying abroad in Berlin, I think the term curator gets thrown around a bit too easily. Everyone is a curator, you curate your closet, you curate your blog, but in fact, the word curator means “overseer, manager, guardian,” and what real curators do is care for, cultivate and preserve collections for posterity. Yes, I call myself a curator because if I called myself a producer or organizer that would be confusing. My greatest respect is for the true curators, those who have the expertise and devotion that so few people have in the world, necessary to perform their jobs as civil servants, caring for and nurturing the material culture of our societies and the ones that came before us.

For that reason, I’d rather speak to an upcoming loan exhibition I am assisting with at The Walters Art Museum. The exhibition looks at the later Islamic empires—Safavid Iran, Mughal India and Ottoman Turkey—through a biographical lens. We are used to thinking about Western art history in terms of blue-chip names like Rubens or Picasso, but Islamic art tends to occupy a strange place between fine art and utilitarian object, where the artists and their patrons are too often forgotten, and the stage becomes set for the viewer to create a paradigm of the ‘other.’ This exhibition humanizes the Islamic world and tells the stories of some fairly unique and interesting characters. Working on this exhibition has been the single most rewarding experience of my undergraduate years. I’ve learned quite a lot about the process of exhibition making at a major institution and have been heavily involved in the research, which has been wildly enriching. For example, my first project was researching the exchange between the Ottoman Empire and European powers in the 18th century, and then selecting objects in the Walters’ collections that exemplify the types of diplomatic gifts King Louis XV would have given to Sultan Mahmud I. It might not sound that thrilling to your readers, but to me it was the most fascinating experience, and actually motivated me to apply for a Fulbright grant to Turkey.

CJ: Out of every course you’ve taken at any institution, which has been your favorite and why?

RG: This is such a difficult question. I have a horrible habit of becoming entirely obsessed with whatever I am studying at the moment, which makes nearly every course my favorite. For that reason, I’m going to alter your question a bit. If I had to re-take a course, and re-take it again and again indefinitely, it would be a sound art course I participated in at New York University Berlin. The professor was a very talented and extraordinarily smart sound artist named Andy Graydon. The course was very theory-based and thinking through and attempting to practice such concepts as reductive listening raptured me. We also learned how to use AbletonLive, which is a software program many DJs use, so that was very cool. But what had the greatest effect on me, was spending a lot of time just listening—taking sound walks and listening to the environment; listening to interstitial spaces like whispers and feet shuffling in museums or wind passing under bridges; and listening to sound art (the abundance of which made Berlin such an inspiring city in which to study this subject). The power of observation is profound, and the impact this course continues to have on my daily life has been remarkable. It sounds corny, but I’ve literally learned to stop and smell (and listen to) the roses.

I also should note some courses and professors I feel indebted to: Modern and Post-Modern Art and Art Theory, which sealed my fate as an art history major; Black Mountain College and Beyond, which introduced me to John Cage; Professor Phil Jacks, with whom I’ve taken four courses at GW and who has become an important mentor; and Professor Mika Natif who exposed me to the wonders of Islamic art and encouraged me to pursue my current curatorial internship at The Walters Art Museum.

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CJ: As a student, what pushes you to diversify your schedule with more than just academics?

RG: I believe life is one long educational journey, so in many ways, my formal academic studies are just one small part of my identity as a student.

CJ: You recently curated LEGAL: Branco, Gen Duarte Nick Alive, Tikka, and Vermelho. What was that experience like?

RG: The process began in October 2013 when an artist I exhibited as part of Caged In, Corcoran professor Jeff Huntington, introduced me to his friend Roberta Pardo, who would become my co-curator for LEGAL. It was a very long and very exciting process and I learned quite a lot. I am excited to say it is still continuing, and the show is now traveling to Porter Contemporary in New York.

I am now working on an entirely different exhibition, Sensorium: The Art of Perception, which has been a very rewarding and creative exercise. I am collaborating with an artist friend I met at NYU Berlin, Talia Kirsh, who is an exceptional personality and a stunning photographer, videographer and sound artist. We are both interested in topics of wellness and Eastern philosophy, and the exhibition we are producing investigates both of these issues by creating an environment in which visitors are encouraged to learn about and explore these themes through sound installations, a smell sculpture, video works, and socially engaged works, in addition to more traditional media like painting and drawing. In addition to Talia, Sijae Byun, winner of the 2013 Phillips Collection Emerging Artist Prize, and Ryan McDonnell, GWU MFA candidate are included in the exhibition.

On Thursday, December 4 and Friday, December 5, we will be hosting Sensorium: The Symposium, which includes a conference featuring scholars from such diverse fields as art history, philosophy, English, Turkish, and medicine, from GW, Georgetown University and American University, as well as such activities as breathe work and sacred movement workshops. (We might also have a Cuban Shaman performing a healing ceremony, but this is not yet confirmed.)

CJ: What future advice would you give to yourself about working with international artists?

RG: Always be curious and remember a smile is recognized in all languages and cultures.

CJ: Why did you decide to travel and work abroad in Berlin?

RG: Berlin is arguably the most important center for contemporary art. The only other contender would be New York. However, because there is no or very little art market in Berlin, the city is much more susceptible to experimental and exploratory art practices. No one expects to sell his or her artwork, and therefore people aren’t afraid to take risks. There is a wonderfully contagious air of collaboration and it is an overall very supportive environment. I hadn’t thought about it before going, but the intellectual and cultural history of the country makes the German people, and Berliners in particular, very interested and supportive of the arts and humanities. I found it so exciting that I could be sitting next to a construction worker in a bar and he could speak intelligently about Deleuze and debate the merits of a recent exhibition.

CJ: Do you have a favorite museum?

RG: There are so many. In Berlin, KW Institute for Contemporary Art has what I think is one of the most ambitious and critically interesting programs for contemporary art, and the Pergamonmuseum fuels my love for Islamic art. All the museums in Vienna, particularly the Belvedere, Albertina and Kunsthistorisches Museum are absolutely stunning, and I have wonderful memories of visiting the Rubens House in Antwerp. In DC, nothing compares to the intimacy of the Phillips Collection. It also largely depends on what exhibitions are showing at the moment. For example, one of my most memorable museum experiences has been in the Pierre Huyghe exhibition at Museum Ludwig in Cologne, which although is a wonderful institution with a great collection, was eclipsed by the Huyghe show itself, which could have been anywhere.

CJ: How do you stay organized? What tools do you use?

RG: I owe my organizational skills to being a product of the Montessori school system. I make lists for everything and then make lists for my lists. I often don’t follow these checklists and time schedules, but seeing what needs to get done, hand-written on paper, keeps these to-do items at the front of my mind. And they get done. This includes scheduling time for things like preparing and eating three proper meals a day, exercising, and doing things that are important to my personal life, like seeing live music and hosting dinner parties.

CJ: What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

RG: Nothing is impossible, only some things are temporarily inconvenient.

CJ: Do you think the career advice to “Follow your passion” is effective?

RG: I think I’m much too young to be giving career advice, but this is something that today, I believe in full-heartedly. Ask me again in ten years.

Roxanne Goldberg Qs

CJ: Your work with Caged In: DC Painters Explore the Aesthetic Influences of John Cage was a labor of love. Not only did you source artists to provide original artwork, but you also created a 34-page catalog and ran a panel discussion with scholars and composers. What did you learn from this project? How has it influenced your future work?

RG: I recently went to the opening for a solo exhibition of an artist I exhibited at Caged In, Jeff Huntington—the same artist who introduced me to Roberta Pardo, co-curator of LEGAL. One of the works, a layered collage piece, was titled “Xenia/John,” a direct reference to John Cage and his early lover Xenia Andreyevna Kashevaroff, whose portrait was the subject of Jeff’s painting for Caged In. When I spoke with Jeff about the work, he said my assignment—to paint a work of specific dimensions while listening exclusively to a given set of John Cage’s music—was a catalyst to a new process and a new body of work, and that he still to this day sometimes listens to John Cage while working.

One of the most inspiring parts of the exhibition has been the aftermath. And thus, one of the greatest lessons of Caged In has been to always remain open and receptive and to allow past influences affect me in surprising, unexpected, and sometimes uncomfortable ways. On a more practical level, it has also taught me the importance and value of following-up and staying in touch with people from my past.

It is impossible to talk about Caged In without talking about the man himself, John Cage. Arguably the single most influential person in both visual art and music of the 20th century, John Cage continues to incite profound responses, more than twenty years after his death. This is the hypothesis I sought to test, and the results speak for themselves. Getting back to your question, yes, the exhibition was a labor of love. I spent the entire summer of 2013 reading John Cage’s books and listening to his music. I was abroad at the time, so the selection of artists was a bit more hands-off than I typically prefer, but miraculously, things melded together quite naturally and each of the artists I reached out to was very receptive to the idea of the project, which required each artist to not only produce an original artwork, but also to create an original piece of writing to be juxtaposed reproductions of their artworks in the catalog. The responses were overwhelming and quite surprising. Another lesson I learned is to encourage myself and others to think outside the box. I asked for painting and got photographs, charcoal drawings and glitter.

Caged In was the first occasion I organized and moderated a panel discussion. I actually really love public speaking—I always have—so I was excited to have this opportunity, but I was incredibly intimidated at the prospect of posing questions and creating an intellectual discourse with three people I admire so deeply for their brilliance and expertise. The rewards were enormous however, as I learned so much from that one-hour, and have since relished in opportunities to bring interesting individuals together for the sake of conversation and intellectual challenge (hence Sensorium: The Symposium on Dec. 4 and 5). I also learned to never be afraid to say, “I don’t know,” be genuinely curious about everything, and that a bit of professionalism goes a long way.

CJ: Who – from the past or present – inspires you?

RG: This is another difficult question. I’m continually inspired, not just by people, but also by objects, spaces, sensory experiences. If you hadn’t already asked the question about Caged In, I would say John Cage without hesitation. But I won’t bore you with more praises of Cage.

I am incredibly inspired by my intern supervisor at The Walters Art Museum, associate curator of Islamic and South Asian Art Dr. Amy Landau. Amy is one of the most brilliant and poised people I have ever met and her level of commitment to and care for her curatorial projects and scholarly pursuits is unparalleled. I feel so fortunate to have had such a thoughtful individual not only as a boss, but also as a mentor and a teacher. I am really quite devastated that as my time at GW is coming to an end, so too is my internship.

IMG_8236CJ: Would you agree with the thought that the “Art World” can be characterized as inaccessible? How would you respond to that type of critique?

RG: Sure, the “art world” can be inaccessible. But so can music or food, technology or finance, or any other field or subject for that matter.

CJ: What is your dream job?

RG: My major goal is to earn a Ph.D. in art history. I want to advance knowledge as an academic, and I aspire to be a curator at a major museum institution, where I will aim to create compelling exhibitions that contribute innovative approaches to the field, while also educating and enriching individual viewers and the larger community.

CJ: Who is your favorite artist?

RG: In terms of contemporary artists, I can never say I have a favorite because I am always learning about and being exposed to new individuals. At this moment however, I am very interested in Camille Henrot, a French artist whose exhibition Snake Grass (Schinkel Pavillion, Berlin) continues to haunt me; Susan Phillipz, Janet Cardiff, Angela Bulloch, and Fatima Al Qadiri are dizzyingly brilliant women working in sound; Anri Sala, Pipolotti Rist, Fang Lu, and Shirin Neshat all primarily work in video and are quite remarkable. Currently, I am deeply immersed in writing my honors thesis, which focuses on the artist collective Slavs and Tatars, and through my research, I’ve come to be highly interested in the socially engaged practices of Pedro Reyes, Francis Alÿs, Tino Seghal, and Pierre Huyghe. Other contemporary artists of current intrigue include: Alicja Kwade, Danh Vo, Double Fly Art Center, Olafur Eliasson, Afruz Amighi, Wolfgang Tillmans, Rachid Koraïchi, Faig Ahmed, and Hassan Hajjaj.

Going a bit further back in history, Franz Kline captured my heart long ago; I have a penchant for Dark Romanticism, particularly the works of Henry Füssli, Goya, Gauguin and Caspar David Friedrich; and though they often cannot be attributed to single artists, Islamic manuscripts are among the most captivating objects ever created.

CJ: Have you ever made art yourself?

RG: I make great two-dimensional boxes.

CJ: If you were to make art yourself, which medium would you use? (Painting, Drawing, Ceramics, installation, etc.)

RG: It would depend on the project! Probably something very intricate and detail oriented, like Jianzhi, which is the ancient art of Chinese paper cutting.

CJ: You’ve mentioned that you intend to earn a Ph.D. in art history. When would this happen and how would it benefit you? What would deter you from earning it?

RG: At this time, my focus is on honing my language skills before I commit to a Ph.D. program. Ideally, I would like to complete the Ph.D. before I am 30. If there were one word to describe me, it would be student. I love learning and there is nothing I can think of which could be more rewarding than fully dedicating myself to an academic study and contributing nuanced thought to a field about which I am highly zealous. I understand there are few things as arduous as writing a dissertation, however I crave that intellectual challenge and do not believe there is anything that would deter me.

CJ: What advice would you give to your 17-year-old self?

RG: Be confident, but be open and receptive to new influences and the possibility of change. Your beliefs and values are important, but they are not fixed. College is not a means to a job; it is a medium through which to gain a particular world perspective, one of an infinite number of lenses through which to see the world. This tinted perspective may challenge your previously held convictions, but this is good, this is a sign of growth.

Images: Courtesy of Roxanne Goldberg and Donna Ra’anan-Lerner