The Block Docent Diaries: Finding Inspiration

The Block Museum Student Docent Program is made up of students from across Northwestern University that serve as the museum’s tour guides and ambassadors. In Spring 2020, the program continues online as students connect, research, and plan in support of the Museum’s mission. We reached out to this team to learn more about their current inspiration at this time.

We asked What art, music, or culture is inspiring you right now?

I have been inspired by a variety of art forms during self-isolation, particularly Elif Batuman’s The Idiot which is an excellent novel and the album Saint Cloud by Waxahatchee. Both pieces have transported me outside my home and have provided me with some relief and solace throughout the past few weeks.

Erin Claeys (Theater 2021)

Classical music is inspiring me right now. I’ve played piano since I was a kid but have not been able to play very often while in college. Living at home, I am lucky to be able to play the piano every day, which gives me a creative outlet and is an amazing de-stressing activity. I do a lot of reflective thinking when I’m playing familiar pieces, and reconnecting with classical music has let me unwind and relax and in these stressful times. I’ve also set a couple of projects for myself. I was inspired after watching the 48-hour Youtube live-stream of Phantom of the Opera to learn solo piano arrangements of a few songs and I’m starting to learn a piece called Widmung (Schumann/Liszt) as well!

Nicholas Liou (Art History 2020)

Lately I’ve been really inspired by the work of filmmaker and former Northwestern professor Zeinabu irene Davis. I’m briefly writing about her amazing film Compensation, which was screened at Block Cinema in Winter Quarter, for my senior thesis project, and am delighted to notice something new every time.

Meghan Considine (Art History and Performance Studies 2020)

Reading and rereading Braiding Sweetgrass and Mushroom at the End of the World to accommodate my nature walks!

Janet Lee (Journalism and International Studies 2020)

The Shows Must Go On! Youtube channel has been really amazing these past couple of weeks. They post a new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical every Friday, and it stays up for 48 hours so people can watch it for free! 

Alexis Bullock (Art, Theory and Practice and Psychology 2020)

I’ve been watching a bunch of Soviet films from the 1920s for a film class that have actually been really cool! I highly recommend Aelita, Queen of Mars if anyone is bored.

Emily Andrey (Art History, Russian and East European Studies minor; Chemistry minor; Premed 2020)

I’m listening to Chapell Roan’s Pink Pony Club and it’s giving me happy LA vibes. I can’t think of anything more profound sadly… just been painting by numbers and listening to music!

Fiona Asokacitta (Art History and History 2021)

I’ve been loving Hope Gangloff and Amanda Hawkins lately! They’re both painters who are masters of color, and who aren’t afraid to experiment with it. Hope Gangloff does these funky portraits that are vivid, busy, and full of texture. Amanda Hawkins does beautiful abstracted landscapes in wonky color palettes. I’m taking an introductory painting class right now, so I’m learning to mix and use color for the first time – which is surprisingly difficult and surprisingly fun. Looking at these two artists who are so playful with color, pattern, and texture has been inspiring to me as I try to learn the basics of their form. 

Brooke Lummis (Creative Writing Major, Minor in Environmental Policy and Culture 2021)

I’ve been looking at a lot of interior design photos lately. They started popping up on my Instagram Explore page so I’ve been saving them and creating an inspiration album of sorts. All the bold colours, wall art, and cozy bedding make me want to spice up my own room with some arts and crafts! I also started playing the piano again. After watching The Pianist (highly recommend if you haven’t seen it already!), I relearned Chopin’s Nocturne in C-sharp minor. It’s such a beautiful and emotional song.

Kristine Liao (Journalism and International Studies 2020)

I am inspired by the music on tiktok. I know, I know, it’s not really high brow or anything. I just think it’s really cool that people have adapted snippets of songs and given them meaning beyond the original purpose. Creators use the lyrics literally and figuratively and phonetically, making puns and stories and just silly videos. It has inspired me to look deeper into music, and recognize that it can have a purpose beyond just being listened to; it can be used in my own creative endeavors. 

Ella Rubenstein (Anthropology; Integrated marketing communication certificate; Segal Design Certificate 2020)

I recently started following The Covid Art Museum, an Instagram account that is the self-proclaimed “first museum for art born during COVID-19 quarantine.” It compiles art created during this quarantine by artists from all over the world. Anyone can submit their artwork for a chance to be featured. I think it’s exciting to see a collection of art created by different people (and not necessarily positioned artists)  as we live through this somewhat universal experience.

Maria Valencia (Radio/TV/Film and Anthropology 2020)
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