The Snow Dance, sensual and artistic, mesmerized all who watched it. Adorned in a glistening white kimono, Sayuri graced the Japanese stage slowly, her arms reaching for the life she believed would never come. The snow, falling effortlessly around her, symbolized her transformation. Once soft like the rain, she had now become cold like ice. All was laid bare on the stage: her wounded past, her uncertain present, and a future that relied solely on hope. Portraying the character so passionately, Beijing born actress Zhang Ziyi illustrated part of her own story during the film. Though she was never a geisha, Zhang was more than familiar with her character’s personality. “There are only two sides to one’s personality: it’s either tough or soft,” she told Time Out Shanghai. Like her character in Memoirs of a Geisha, she too has developed  tough skin, but has maintained a soft spoken demeanor, generous heart and feminine grace.

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There’s something magical about water. Every time I got to a beach or a lake, I can’t help but marvel at the majesty of massive waves or serene ripples. Water is, after all, the source of all life so it’s only natural to have reverence for it. Photographer Christy Lee Rogers, for instance, transforms her fascination of water into artwork. Her work is breathtaking—literally. She merges human and aquatic forms by photographing her subjects as they move underwater. Through her works, she has revamped traditional photography and developed a signature flair.

As a native Hawaiian, Rogers has always had an affinity for water. She grew up in Kailua, a beach town on the island of Oahu, and was enamored of the Pacific Ocean. When she was a teenager, Rogers took up photography as a hobby. Her high school boyfriend, a photographer, gave her an old film camera as a gift. She then started snapping pictures of her friends as well as assembled objects. Rogers also posed for hundreds of photos and took self-portraits. Eventually, she decided to incorporate her love of water into her photography.

clr2“The beauty and tranquility of water led to my first experimentations with it as an artistic source,” Rogers told Astrum People, an online success story magazine. “Metaphorically, water stood for purity; and a body immersed in it, free from of gravity but trapped by the inability to breathe, was a huge dichotomy that consumed me.  Pain and suffering all mixed up with freedom and purity.” For Rogers, water is an inspirational element. Her photographs reflect the nature of the universal solvent; sometimes it can be tranquil and at other times, tempestuous.

While Rogers has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Telecommunications and Film, she has no formal training in photography. All of her experience comes from exploration and independent research. Her artistic approach stems from the refraction of light. Light shifts from a lower optical density in air to a higher optical density in water. The movement from air to water causes light to bend and this creates a blurred effect. To capture her photographs, Rogers uses a Canon 5D Mark II or a 1DS Mark III camera. She usually conducts nighttime sessions at local pools in Hawaii and remains poolside to snap shots. Since her subjects are immersed in water, she only has brief intervals to operate. For example, when she photographed “Black Moon,” a piece from her Reckless Unbound collection, her subjects stayed underwater for approximately 15 to 20 seconds at a time for an 8-hour session.

Remarkably, she does not digitally alter or manipulate her images. The confluence of light refraction and movement in varying water depths give them a distinct look. Her photographs more closely resemble paintings than photographs and have been often compared to Baroque art. In an interview with Frame Publishers, a company specializing in publications for creative professionals, Rogers detailed her process.  “Water can become quite chaotic, especially with choreographing many subjects together, so we [practice] one by one. I teach each person my style and how to position themselves in relation to me and in relation to the lights. There are key points that they have to [practice] and hopefully master. Posing is not something that I feel works for real expression so I have my subjects stay in constant movement.”

Rogers has produced several photographic series. Her most notable collections are Celestial BodiesÉlanSmoke and GoldReckless UnboundOdyssey and Siren. Many of her works have also been included in publications such as Harper’s Bazaar Art China, Eyemazing, The Independent, Casa Vogue and Photo Professional. In addition, five of her photographs were featured as cover art for The All-Baroque Box, a 50 CD-box set distributed by Universal Music Group, and Deutsche Grammophon, the world’s oldest surviving record label.

Élan, a 2014 collection, has a festive, carnivalesque motif. The models in this collection wore flamboyant costumes while moving through the water. One piece that caught my attention, titled “Fantôme Du Coeur” (Phantom of the Heart), depicts a man smiling with outstretched arms as he breaks free from entangled bodies. The ripples of the water, the lighting, and the subjects’ attire create an image reminiscent of an anachronistic French painting. Visually, it’s the incarnation of a sunken soiree.


Her 2015 collection, Celestial Bodies, came to fruition because of a technical error. Rogers emailed a photo to a friend and discovered that the original image was duplicated in reverse. She was inspired by this mistake and integrated it into the project. “Celestial Bodies” is an apt description for the series because the subjects look as if they’re drifting weightlessly in the void of outer space. At the same time, Rogers captures each person’s fluidity by conveying them as astral projections.

The piece titled, “Reflected in the Stars” is stunning. The sparse lighting and surrounding bubbles project a cosmic atmosphere. It’s symbolic of a graceful, interstellar ballet. The woman is essentially drowning peacefully as the water envelops her entire being. Rogers creates a mirrored effect by juxtaposing the original image with its inverted counterpart. This is a masterfully crafted image that showcases Rogers’ ingenuity.

I was very impressed with Christy Lee Rogers’ collections. She has an intuitive perspective and her technique is innovative. Underwater photography is a nuanced art form with an imaginative style.  An aquatic ambience permeates her photographs which makes her work so exceptional. Her methodology is unorthodox, yet it can be appreciated by photography enthusiasts and art lovers alike.

-Elijah Yarbrough

Map Painting by jasper johns; Map Art Print for sale
Map Painting by jasper johns; Map Art Print for sale

At first and quite possibly the second and third glance, nothing extraordinary catches your eye. The all too familiar color, subject matter and title cause you to wonder what exactly is it that makes the painting so valuable. But in 2014, it sold for $36 million. At only 12 by 18 inches, the piece does not grab attention because of its size. But painter and print maker Jasper Johns offers up a slice of history in his art. Born in 1930, the 85 year old artist enjoys intertwining Abstract Expressionism with the beauty of concrete subjects. Admitting he wanted to be an artist at a young age, Johns told PBS, “I think I thought it meant that I would be in a situation different from the one that I was in.” Perhaps, that’s what makes Johns’ artwork so appealing, his ability to illustrate so many different situations in such a simplistic, minimalist way.

Besides the bright orange, yellow, red and blue color palette, the first thing one notices in a Jasper Johns painting is the familiarity of the subject. Whether flags, targets, numbers, letters or maps, everyday items are almost always portrayed. They are comfortable and mysterious at the same time. “Map,” an oil on canvas depiction of the United States of America, draws viewers in deeper into the Johns reimagined depths. The map is both old and new at the same time, mimicking the feeling of a renovated home, vaguely familiar yet “new.” State names, stenciled onto the painted canvas are like cosmetic upgrades resulting in a kind of new value for the piece.

john3Whether intentional or not, Johns’ paintings seem to flow together, intangible ideals bound together by tangible creations. Guided by the “Map,” viewers often come across “Target with Four Faces,” another famous painting by the legendary artist. Like “Map,” this painting blends commonplace items with unexpected elements of surprise. Viewers, comforted by the fact that the bull’s eye, the goal, is within reach, are left wondering about the role of the blind faces. Regardless of the reason for the eyeless faces, the painting is a tangible illustration of people aiming for a target, whether their goal be mental, spiritual, physical, emotional or simply for sport. “False Start,” a colorful arrangement of colliding colors and words, reminds viewers that life is comprised of both the expected as well as the unexpected.

“My experience of life is that it’s very fragmented; certain kinds of things happen, and in another place, a different kind of thing occurs. I would like my work to have some kind of vivid indication of those differences.” Johns’ statement with PBS is exactly what happens in “False Start.” In some parts of the art, colors clash with other colors. In other parts, the word “yellow” is painted in blue on top of a red patch of paint. The mind, left to play puzzling games, undergoes false starts, constantly renegotiating and re-imagining that which seems normal. In the end however, the viewer’s mind, like life, grows stronger as it recognizes new patterns within familiar color schemes and words. In fact, that seems to be Jasper Johns’ message as an artist: pop culture reappropriated for social and personal growth. That is, in Johns’ world, simple flags, are reimagined as badges of personal patriotism, shooting targets become mirrors of life goals and mismatched colors depict the evolution of individual people.


Born in Augusta, Georgia, Jasper Johns grew up extremely aware of difference whether it was race, class or gender. Those lessons have helped shape him into an amazing artist that uses and reimagines familiar things in unfamiliar ways. In fact, Johns readily admits that good artists must be willing to give up everything, especially the desire to be traditional. He has done that, leaving the University of South Carolina after studying for only a few months. Moving to New York, he embraced the different pace of life, craving even more the freedom of artistry. For him, his work is about “relations between seeing and knowing, seeing and saying and seeing and believing.” But these relations can only be accurately understood through new eyes, reimagining everyday items and everyday circumstances in new ways and that is worth far more than $36 million.

-Sharita Gilmore

Sometimes we all need to take some time off from the busy world and close ourselves up in a dark, empty room. It’s good and refreshing to be alone. One can think freely and have no interruptions. And if getting time alone during the day is impossible, then it’s always great to look towards nighttime for relaxation. Turning off all of the lights when you’re alone in your house, closing the curtains, and locking your doors is probably an indication that it’s time for some sleep. But when you’re a singer like Meg Mac, encompassing yourself inside of a darkened room with no one around you is something that is done many times for the sake of song writing. Talking to Mike Wass at Idolator, an independent website dedicated to pop music, Mac says, “I hate the idea of anyone being able to hear me or see me, so I like being dark and in a space.” By creating wonderfully written songs over the past two years, she has quickly risen to the status of an international pop star.

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janet3As if Janet Jackson’s resume wasn’t impressive enough with her list of achievements including: singer, songwriter, actress, icon, Oscar and Golden Globe nominee, and winner of 5 Grammy’s and the NAACP Best Supporting Actor Award, recently she added record label head to the list. Jackson decided that she was going to launch her own record label, making her arguably the first African-American female to establish one, and she decided that her label was going to do things a little differently.

For her label, Rhythm Nation Records, Jackson pursued a “label-services” deal with music publishing and recording rights management BMG. Some of their services cover the entire range of rights administration and development. It is their goal to place the needs and well-being of the songwriters and artists at the center of their concerns.

BMG was honored to partner with Jackson. In a press release announcing the partnership, BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch commented, “Janet is not just a supreme artist, she is a unique cultural force whose work resonates around the world. It is an honor that she has chosen BMG to release her long-awaited new album. We look forward to collaborating with her across every platform.”
The partnership between BMG and Rhythm Nation Records allows for artists to retain ownership, costs, and revenues of their new recordings. This arrangement puts the artists in control and gives them a lot more creative freedom than other agreements. Other artists that have been working with BMG recently include: alt-J, The Smashing Pumpkins, Anastacia, Backstreet Boys, Nena, Bryan Ferry, You Me At Six, and The Charlatans.

janet2Rhythm Nation Records is looking to work with both new and already established musicians, but no names have been released yet. In the press release, posted on her website, Jackson expressed her thanks and excitement to work with BMG. Jackson said, “Thank you to the talented team at BMG, my new artistic home. The opportunity to be creative in music and every form of entertainment has great potential here.”

Jackson herself has been catching fire with all the rumors surrounding her new album and tour. It has been confirmed that Jackson will be releasing her long awaited album under Rhythm Nation Records and BMG Rights Management. She has also announced the first set of dates for the North American leg of her Unbreakable World Tour. Also, though currently unconfirmed, it is rumored that Unbreakable­ is the title of her long awaited album.

Janet Jackson definitely has the right idea with her new record label. I really respect her decision to partner with BMG because it really puts artists in control and allows them many creative freedoms while protecting their ownership rights. Jackson also practices what she preaches by releasing her new album through her own label. I can’t wait to hear her new stuff after 7 years of anticipation. With her new album, upcoming tour (that is making a stop in Atlanta on September 26th), and Rhythm Nation Records it would seem that Jackson is shaking up the music world again and changing things for the better.

~ Shannan Rivera


pola5Fashion can be an extension of who you are as a person. Beyond the trends and styles, you’ll find that clothes symbolize your identity, personal values, culture, and even national heritage. Fashion designer Pola Thomson, for example, emblazons her creations with virtuosity and enlightenment. Ever since she was a child growing up in Santiago, Chile, Thomson’s had a creative urge. At twelve years old, she requested a sewing machine and discovered her muse in fashion design. Now as an award-winning designer, she is sharing her talents with the world via refined wardrobe designs and jewelry.

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