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2023
DECEMBER
06 08 16
ScheduleChange BFAExhibition
SAICClimbingClub
NEWSMAGAZINE
THE SCHOOL OF THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO ARTS, CULTURE, AND POLITICS
accountability, and communication regarding policy
and decisions which she failed in some circumstances.
Nonetheless, Tenny still had some success. She
piloted and launched the First-Generation Fellows
program, and the school affirms that Tenny’s work has
contributed to the expansion of health and disability
services on campus, while also diversifying the
student population by 18%. In the 2017/18 academic
year, 52 percent of students were white, compared
with 34.1 percent in 2022/2023.
These changes don’t happen in a vacuum. The
ecosystem of SAIC needs the student body and
faculty to advocate for these improvements. And
still, there’s a lot that needs to be done. Even with the
school stating that Tenny helped to expand health
and disability service on campus, SAIC is still an
inaccessible school for students with disabilities.
And even with Tenny having worked to diversify the
student and faculty population, 71 percent of SAIC
faculty identify as white.
In her seven-year tenure as President, Tenny could
have made more improvements in accessibility,
diversity, and equality. Nevertheless, it bears noting
that not all the major decisions can be solely made by
the president.
Here is a quick rundown of the distribution of
power in SAIC’s academic ecosystem: The power
starts with the decision-making board. The president
has power to preside over the university’s academic
and administrative departments. Presidential duties
include fostering a positive public image of the
institution, maintaining a close relationship with the
board to further the president’s agenda, and working
with the entire university community to find
common ground.
When the school community demands change,
the president needs to listen to those demands and
fundraise to pay for that change. When determining
the message the school would send in times of
tumultuous changes, the president of SAIC sets the
tone and fundraises based on that message. In a
private university such as SAIC, fundraising is a major
focus for a president, as state funding does not cover
any funding for a private institution.
As the first woman to be president in the midst
O
n March 21, President Elissa Tenny sent an
email to the school community announcing
her retirement.
“Today, after a career in higher education of
more than 45 years, I write to share that I will retire
at the end of the 2023–24 academic year. I do so
with enthusiasm for all you have done to shape the
remarkable legacy that you, and I, and so many before
us, share,” wrote Tenny.
In 2016, Tenny became the president of School of
the Art Institute of Chicago, and is the first woman in
the school’s history to hold this leadership position.
Before that, she served as provost of SAIC from 2010
to 2016, and was the vice dean of Bennington College
from 2002 to 2010.
Tenny became president in a time when significant
events of the decade were taking place. The COVID-19
pandemic, which killed more than 6 million people,
broke out during her tenure. In 2020, the country
saw one of its biggest uprisings for racial equality in
response to the murder of George Floyd by the police
officer Derek Chauvin. The following year, SAIC’s non-
tenure faculty took to the streets to protest for better
wages, later forming a union in 2022. During all of
these tumultuous events, she led SAIC.
While she faced significant challenges since
becoming president in 2016, her leadership has also
been met with criticism. Several members of the SAIC
community have described her as a person who is out
of touch or ineffective, according to a report in The
Chicago Reader. Her commitment on racial equality
has been questionable; she didn’t publicly reprimand
Provost Martin Beger even when many students at
SAIC demanded his resignation after the harm his
actions caused — reportedly he quoted a racial slur
used by Elizabeth Eckford, a Black Civil Rights activist,
in 2018 during his introductory lecture.
Recently she was also criticized by some SAIC
community members for her emails that addressed
the current genocide of Palestinian people. Students
said that her messagings depoliticized the events and
failed to present a full picture of what is happening
in Gaza.
Situations like these highlighted the need
for President Tenny to increase transparency,
Illustration by Bei Lin.
What does President Elissa Tenny’s
departure mean for SAIC?
of a pandemic, and civil unrest, it must have been
challenging to lead a school. But she was also paid a
hefty check for her job. Annually, she received more
than $700,000, plus $48,000 for housing, which is
more than the salary of other presidents who lead
countries’ leading art colleges including Rhode Island
School of Design and California Institute of Arts.
For now, we still don’t know who will be Tenny’s
successor. The SAIC Presidential Search Committee
— which includes representatives from the Board
of Governors, Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, and
student body — will soon make a recommendation
to the Board about a candidate who is suitable for
the role.
The new President will have a lot of work to do
because the School has entered a new era. There’s a
new energy among students and faculty, and they are
more political than before. They have formed unions
to demand better wages and improve their working
conditions; they have frequently demanded equity
conditions and diversification of the school in every
way that can be and to make the institute a space
where collaboration thrives.
The new president needs to realize that arts and
politics are not separate. The students and faculty,
who are the heart of the institution, are affected by
the policy, messaging, and fundraising which are
political decisions. The president needs to act as a
bridge between the decision making board and the
students and faculty because the community is most
impacted by decisions like the schedule change,
changes in masking policies, which took place during
Tenny’s tenure without any consultations from the
community.
The new president needs to perform their duties
more efficiently and be accountable to all the students
and faculty, whose lives are directly impacted by the
choices the school makes.
Every decision the upcoming president makes
should be informed and considered that benefits the
SAIC community as a whole.
Because without us, the role of the president can’t
exist. The SAIC community is responsible for the
president’s existence, not vice versa.
— F Newsmagazine Editorial Board
Entering a New Era
06 19
22
23
25
12
16
08
20
24
26
28
14
18
10
Caring, Collaborating, Climbing How to Write a Sex Scene
Golden Moments
Riding the L with Sailor Moon
8 Merry Movie Mitzvahs
‘When We Get The Necklace
Back, We Won’t Display It in a
Museum’
BFA Undergraduate
Exhibition 2023
Scheduling Conflict
Anne with an Oh, Snap!
Forever Haunting
‘A Christmas Carol’
Collecting Culture
Featuring Works
An Audition for Sympathy
Bodies, Bodies, Bodies
Navigating Studio Allocations
at SAIC
by Teddie Bernard & Sidne K. Gard
SAIC’s Climbing Club provides a supportive
community and a new way to work with
chalk.
by Sisel Gelman
F the dominant narrative
by Da Zhuang
Memories of Shanghai, manga, and
plushies years later
by Honey Bear
On falling in love with the sailor senshi
by Sidne K. Gard
Ranking kitschy Hanukkah films
by Ankit Khadgi
A tale of how a sacred necklace of Nepal’s
Hindu goddess reached AIC
by Da Zhuang
110 artists, 110 stories
by Alex Lee & Da Zhuang
The impact of the schedule change on SAIC’s
community
by Katie MacLauchlan
Really just a story about people who hate an
orphan
by John McDonald
Naughty and nice adaptions
by Kit Montgomery
Embrace your inner clutter freak
by Teddie Bernard, Cam Collins, Eli Izzy
Drake, Nasa Espinoza, Sidne K. Gard, Ellie
Gerken, Kristen Lee, Mae Lyne, CHema
Skandal, Veronica Timble, Ava Walkow,
Forest Young.
by Marium Asif
Stories from the bus on the way to the
largest Pro-Palestinian protest in the U.S.
history
by Thuy-Tien Vo
Photographer Jimmy DeSana stages
queer bodies and its relation to inanimate
housewares
by Khytul Qazi
How interdisciplinary SAIC really is
Art Director
Bei Lin
Designers
Teddie Bernard
Hailey Kim
Allen Ye
Shina Kang
Aditi Singh
Managing Editor
Ankit Khadgi
SAIC/News Editor
Khytul Qazi
Arts Editor
Gordon Fung
Entertainment Editor
Sidne K. Gard
Comics Editor
Teddie Bernard
Ellie Gerken
Literature Editor
Katie MacLauchlan
Web/Copy Editor
Maya Emma Odim
Multimedia Editor
Nitya Mehrotra
Staff Writers
Kit Montgomery
Da Zhuang
Schetauna Powell
Alex Lee
Office Administrator
Alex Lee
Webmaster
Nick Michael Turgeon
Distributor
Kristen Lee
Kit Montgomery
Editorial Adviser
Sophie Goalson
Design Adviser
Rochell Sleets
Front Cover & TOC Design by
Hailey Kim
Back Cover Design by
Bei Lin
Take a look at our website!
MCACHICAGO.ORG
REBECCA MORRIS:
2001–2022
THROUGH APR 7
One of the most formidable painters
working today, this exhibition presents
a 21-year survey of the artist who is best
known for her large-scale paintings and
inventive approach to composition, color,
and gesture.
FAITH RINGGOLD:
AMERICAN PEOPLE
THROUGH FEB 25
Artist, author, educator, and organizer
Faith Ringgold is one of the most
influential cultural figures of her
generation. This major retrospective
spanning six decades presents a
comprehensive assessment of the
artist’s impactful vision, which bears
witness to the complexity of the
American experience.
CHICAGO WORKS:
MARYAM TAGHAVI
OPENING DEC 20
Taghavi shares new works that expand
her interest in perception by interrogating
the space between the illusive vanishing
point of the horizon and the immutability
of distance culminating in an immersive
installation.
Exhibition view of Rebecca Morris: 2001–2022, MCA Chicago. Photo: Ricardo Adame.
FREE ADMISSION WITH SAIC ID
Scan or Good Luck!
Scan For
p
FNEWSMAGAZINE.COM DECEMBER
6 SAIC
ILLUSTRATION BY BEI LIN (BFA 2023). He is trying his
hardest not to be replaced by AI.
SAIC’s Climbing Club provides a supportive
community and a new way to work with chalk
REPORT by Teddie Bernard & Sidne K. Gard
Caring,
Collaborating,
Climbing
Wilson (BFA 2027) hangs around while explaining a climbing solution to a fellow club member.
2023 F NEWSMAGAZINE SAIC 7
Sidne K. Gard (BFAW 2025) is a queer writer and artist
from New Orleans. They’re hyped to celebrate 12 Days
of Christmas and eight nights of Hanukkah.
Teddie Bernard (BFA 2023) is a multimedia artist and
cartoonist who has never had a Pepsi.
E
very Tuesday night, after a long day in the
studio, dozens of SAIC students find their way
to Block 37’s First Ascent. Their mission? To
rock climb.
SAIC’s Climbing Club may be a newer
extracurricular, but it’s quickly growing in numbers
and grip strength. Carmela Murphy (BFA 2024) and
JJ Galloway (BFA 2023) first started Climbing Club in
Spring 2022. According to Murphy, when they first
began holding Climbing Club sessions, about eight
to ten students attended. Now, they have around 200
students signed up for the club with around 60 people
regularly attending weekly meetings.
Climbing Club has become a sanctuary for
many artists at SAIC who have felt isolated by some
classroom and campus environments. Because of
the collaborative process of climbing, it’s an easy
environment to meet friends for both those who are
brand new to climbing and those who have climbed
it all.
“For me, it’s really meditative but it’s also great
exercise,” said club member Maddie Cordell
(BFA 2027).
“I came to SAIC, and I transitioned. I kind of
thought that sports was something I was going to
give up, at least that was my expectation. I met some
people who were climbers, and they brought me to
this gym, to the climbing club, and I realized I didn’t
have to give it up. I fell in love with climbing,” said
June Thomas (BFA 2025). Thomas is one of Climbing
Club’s current leaders.
Climbing Club has also started a climbing team,
separate from their club meetings. Murphy has five
Fionn Kelly (BFA 2025) loves to climb! Look at them go.
Climbing Club climbs every Tuesday night in Block 37’s First Ascent Gym. Pinzhu Yu (BFA 2027) climbs in the foreground while
in the background, club leader June Thomas helps club members come up with solutions to climbing puzzles.
“Each climb is like a puzzle. To solve the puzzle, it’s about
moving your body creatively,” Carmela Murphy said at the
start of every club meeting, Murphy takes time to teach new
members the basics of climbing.
Emma Crowley (BFA 2025) focuses on getting closer to the
top of the climb with each step.
years of coaching experience that she uses to create
the lesson plans for the climbing team.
The climbing team is currently SAIC’s only
registered sports team. They will be competing in the
USA Climbing Collegiate Division. Their first meet will
take place Dec. 3 at First Ascent Humboldt Park and is
the qualification for nationals. At this qualifying meet,
SAIC’s climbing team will compete with climbers from
across the midwest.
Sports and art are often seen as opposing forces,
but members of Climbing Club push back against
that narrative. Trying to get support from the school
sometimes feels like the journey of climbing a
mountain. While the club has received support, they
often find their next steps are up an even steeper hill.
“I think the school should support our movement
groups more and put more faith in our students
to build the communities they want to build,” said
Thomas.
FNEWSMAGAZINE.COM DECEMBER
8 SAIC
I
n Fall 2023, the School of the Art
Institute of Chicago initiated a
significant update to its class
schedule system — the first such
change in over 40 years. We spoke
with several students and faculty
about this adjustment.
Reactions among students and
faculties have been mixed, but the
majority have had complaints.
ILLUSTRATION BY BEI LIN (BFA 2023). He is trying his
hardest not to be replaced by AI.
The impact of the schedule
change on SAIC’s community
REPORT by Alex Lee & Da Zhuang
Scheduling
Conflict
2023 F NEWSMAGAZINE SAIC 9
What’s New
Studio classes are now shortened from six hours to
five hours.
Academic classes are now shortened from three
hours to two hours and 45 minutes.
The Reaction
Despite the unaltered tuition fees, students find
themselves having less time in class under the revised
schedule. Those who started in the fall of 2023 spent
16.67 percent less time in studio classes and 8.33
percent less time in academic courses than students
who have previously completed four-year BFA degrees
before this change was implemented.
The revised timetable reduces studio classes by 14
hours per semester. Consequently, a student enrolled
in three studio courses will experience a reduction
of 42 studio hours involving direct interaction with
instructors and access to class-specific resources.
According to Anne Harris, professor from the
Painting and Drawing department, a decade ago, SAIC
decreased the maximum studio size from 18 to 15 to
provide students with more individualized attention
from their instructors. Because of the schedule
change, some of this progress has been reversed.
Additionally, due to the consecutive scheduling
of studio classes, those concluding at 3 p.m. need to
commence cleanup at 2:30 p.m. or even earlier for the
subsequent class, further diminishing available time.
Harris underscored the negative impact on studio
classes, emphasizing the diminished time for crucial
activities.
“My problems with the new schedule began before
it was put in place because studio faculty weren’t
consulted in the conception and design of this
schedule even though it most impacts studio classes.
Instead, we were invited to offer suggestions after the
fact,” said Harris.
“This schedule change significantly diminishes the
quality of our studio classes. In my classes, the new
schedule means significantly less time with figure
models, less one-on-one time for direct feedback, and
less time for critique, lectures, and so on. We also no
longer have the time for those additional ‘Can I talk to
you’ conversations, often after class,” Harris added.
In response to the discontent several students
and faculty had with the schedules, student Naomi
Joyner initiated an online petition against the
changes, garnering support from 99 students. The
petition criticized the shift to earlier morning classes,
potentially affecting students relying on the cafeteria
for meals. The petition said that “as students and
faculty of SAIC, they won’t let this happen quietly.”
What’s New
Morning academic classes now start at 8:30 a.m. and
go to 11:15 a.m., and morning studio classes begin at
9 a.m. and go until 3 p.m., with lunch between 11:15
a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
The Reaction
Students living off-campus raised concerns around
the earlier morning start times and extended evening
hours. Earlier start times have negatively impacted
attendance due to early morning commutes, while the
extended evening hours have raised safety concerns
for nighttime classes.
First-year MFA student Kaiylah Michelle O’Quinn
expressed worry over potential increased travel costs,
particularly when relying on taxi services for a later
journey home.
“When I travel home from night classes, taxis
usually get more expensive than during the day,”
said O’Quinn.
J Swain (BFA 2024) from the Department of Fiber
and Material Study, said, “I need to take classes online
for my health, which requires me to either pick from
the 3 percent of classes that are offered online or to
beg professors to let me take their in-person classes
as modified in person. Unfortunately, I got stuck with
a Saturday at 8:30 a.m. and a Wednesday night class
ending at 9:30 p.m. I’m barely keeping myself awake
and I don’t feel like I’m actually getting my money’s
worth. The 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. window wasn’t ideal, but it
was definitely better than what we currently have. I’m
just grateful that it’s my second to last semester.”
Isabella Barrera (BFA 2023) isn’t bothered by
the late trip home; instead, she is frustrated by
how the new class schedule works with the work-
study schedule. Because the class schedule was
updated without the work-study schedule, work-
study employee shifts end before classes do. This is
a problem because certain facilities cannot operate
without work-study staff.
“I wish that [classes] still ended at 9 p.m. because
sometimes as a work-study, I have to stay past my
scheduled shift to help close up the studio or ensure
that teachers still have access to the things that they
need,” said Barrera.
Lunchtime also poses a challenge under the new
schedule, as noted by Nick Aiello (MFA 2024). The
adjusted timing, while beneficial for avoiding rush
hour traffic, results in lunch becoming difficult.
“When I have a 12:15 p.m. class, I have to eat lunch
at 3 p.m. because the travel time to get to campus
usually begins at 11:30 a.m. or earlier,” said Aiello.
Professor Janet Desaulniers from the Writing
department emphasized the disruption to the faculty’s
routines, highlighting the absence of communal
lunches and the hurried pace imposed by the earlier
afternoon start times:
“While they encourage students to feel free to eat
during class, I find fewer do so now than did before
the schedule change. Maybe there’s less time to
prepare or pick up lunch. But from my seat, we appear
to be powering through on one more cup of coffee or a
handful of grapes,” said Desaulniers.
“What remains problematic and disheartening is
how this change was sprung on our community with
no input from faculty or students,” they added.
A faculty member who wishes to remain
anonymous also shares this sentiment, having
stated “They told us the schedule, and we were given
opportunities to comment, but that was it. We weren’t
part of the formulation of it.”
Amelia Noël-Elkins, SAIC’s Associate Provost for
Academic Planning and Curricular Analysis, said in
an email “The schedule was developed in the Dean’s
Office and further refined by numerous conversations
with faculty, staff, and a range of graduate and
undergraduate student-elected leaders and groups.
Da Zhuang (MFAW 2025) is a staff writer at F
Newsmagazine. She loves dogs, the sea, and soft boiled
eggs, but hates spiders, cinnamon, and cold rain.
Alex Lee (BFA 2027) is probably human. They’re just
happy to be here.
What’s New
On Monday and Wednesday from 3:15 p.m. to 6:30
p.m., there will be “Open Time,” a time when students
will presumably have studio access and work time for
their homework.
Eliminate required courses on Saturdays, though
departments can still opt to offer classes.
The Reaction
As more people enroll in SAIC, the school buildings
have become more crowded. According to an email
sent to students from the Office of the Provost in 2022,
SAIC said that the new schedule is an effective way
to make the best use of the space because the new
staggered schedule allows for one more academic
class and one more full, five-hour studio class to be
taught on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Noël-Elkins,Associate mirrored this statement,
saying the intent of the schedule change was to add
flexibility to the student schedule.
“Specifically, the new course schedule is intended
to give students a greater range of class options; allow
for less overlap in classes; eliminate required courses
on Saturdays; and allows campus space to be used
more efficiently so there is less congestion in shops,
labs, and help-desk spaces and more flexibility in
using classrooms outside of class time. Additionally,
the hope is that the increase in free time students
have in their schedules will have positive effects on
their wellbeing,” said Noël-Elkins.
Some students agreed that they feel relief about
less time spent in class and more time for jobs and
socializing.
A student (MFA 2025) from the Department of
Writing who chose to stay anonymous for privacy
reasons said,“ I am happy with my schedule in fall,
because almost all my classes start at 12.15 p.m. I have
enough time to sleep, prepare for class, and travel to
school.”
J (BFA 2023) from the Department of Sculpture
pointed out that there will be a potential period
for student groups to connect and for artists to
collaborate at studios. “On Mondays and Wednesdays,
I can spend more time working in my studio. It’s nice
to invite other artists to stop by and do critic.”
According to Noël-Elkins the new schedule may not
be in its final form.
“We have received limited feedback on the change;
however, we’re going through the process of assessing
how the schedule change is working in practice. We
recently convened focus groups with students and
staff and will soon hold focus groups with faculty
to better understand their experiences, and we’re
looking to see if changes need to be made,” Noël-
Elkins said.
FNEWSMAGAZINE.COM DECEMBER
DECEMBER
10 SAIC
ILLUSTRATION BY ALLEN YE (BFA 2023). He wants to
reincarnate into a monkey.
2023 F NEWSMAGAZINE SAIC 11
Among students from departments that aren’t
automatically considered for studios, it appears that
navigating the studio application process proves to be
a challenge in itself.
“Although it is pretty straightforward, it’s not
easy. I’m confused about what is the purpose of us
demonstrating what our visual practice is, when we’re
not given space to actually practice,” Lobenfield said.
For students like Moaksha Vohra (MA AAP 2024),
the absence of dedicated studio spaces presents a
hindrance to their artistic endeavors. “I work from my
apartment,” she said, “and because of that, art-making
for me feels like a very isolated process.”
Vohra said that a studio could play a pivotal role in
her practice. Her frustration with the complexity of
the process led her to abandon the pursuit of a studio,
echoing Lobenfield’s question about the purpose of
demonstrating a visual practice when students are
denied adequate space to realize the projects.
The ambiguity within the curriculum outline
concerning resource allocations further compounds
the issue, contradicting the expectations of students
within these programs.
“I don’t think the studio allocation process was fully
disclosed before coming to campus,” said Hannah
Jill Johnston, a second year MFAW student. “I don’t
understand why we’re paying the same tuition as
other departments when we are clearly getting fewer
resources.”
Lobenfield, referring to an email she received last
week, said, “We learned that we have to move out of
our studios in January. While for some of my friends
from other departments, the studio lease was signed
for a year.” She added, “I feel like there is not a lot of
easily accessible information, and it’s not easy to get
people to talk about these kinds of things. I have a
sculpture piece that I’m working on and I could not
assemble it in my studio because of the shortage of
space.”
“It’s frustrating that writers at SAIC seem to get
the short end of the stick when it comes to studio
allocation. I was assigned with two other writers to
share a small studio in Washington. There is simply
not enough room. As a writer with a huge artistic
practice, it is discouraging to be allotted less space
T
he School of the Art Institute of Chicago boasts
its commitment to interdisciplinary education,
fostering an environment where diverse fields
intersect to nurture creativity.
On its website, the School mentions that it
offers interdisciplinary freedom to its students.
“Our curriculum centers self-directed study across
a multiplicity of disciplines. We think beyond
boundaries to make new discoveries,” the website
states.
While the School claims that SAIC’s curriculum
underscores a rich interdisciplinary approach, it
notably lacks explicit clarity about studio allocations
for students across various programs, which has irked
many students.
SAIC’s promotional efforts often highlight the MFA
programs, showcasing the institution’s commitment to
exploring connections between genres. One of the ads
promoting the MFAW programs says, “Explore both
within and between genres, and creatively connect
with visual art practices in the MFA in Writing.”
However, for those enrolled in the programs, the
truth contradicts these promotional statements; the
reality of navigating resources seems to be different
than it appears from outside.
Claire Lobenfield, a second-year MFA student,
described the resource distribution as an “absurd
labyrinth,” shedding light on the inequity in studio
access among graduate students from different
departments.
“I noticed during open studios in my first year
that where the Viscom students have their space, it
is half empty; they don’t work in studios, they work
in cubicles, like with computers, and I couldn’t
understand why Writing didn’t have the other half of
that,” she said.
Delinda Collier, the academic dean of Graduate
Studies, while speaking to F Newsmagazine said,
“It’s important to understand that resources are
allocated by the curricular apparatus that supports
it. All MFA students automatically get studios, with
the exception of MFAW, because it is a Writing
program, predominantly. Programs like MFA Writing,
MFA Fashion, or MAs are different programs with a
particular curriculum.”
Khytul Abyad (MFAW 2024) is a part-time visual
artist, full time aspiring writer and a secret culinary
enthusiast, Khytul is pursuing an MFA in Writing at
SAIC.
How interdisciplinary SAIC really is
REPROT by Khytul Abyad
than the painters and sculptors of the school,” said
Johnston.
Throughout the years, art academics, artists, and
revolutionaries have highlighted the importance of a
studio space for creative work.
Jeff Koons (SAIC 1975–76, HON 2008), a widely
recognized artist, said that the studio is a place
of transformation. “It’s where the artist takes raw
materials and turns them into something beautiful.
It’s a place of magic, where anything is possible,”
Koons said.
The disparity in studio allocation has sparked
discussions among students and faculty, bringing
to light the challenges in resource distribution and
fairness within the institution.
Delving into the administrative perspective,
Collier acknowledged the division between curricular
considerations and resource management.
“After all the major MFA studio programs are
assigned, we have some leftover studios,” she said.
“It is these studios that we consider other requests
for. Writing and VCS are on the same Tier — and
from there it goes down to fifth semester requests
and things like that, or people from other programs.
MFAWs are on the second tier of allocation,” she said.
The students also highlighted the importance of
equity in resource distribution.
“The beauty of the Writing department is its
interdisciplinary nature. I want that beauty to be
upheld, and supported and encouraged,” Johnson
said.
Lobenfield added, “It would be nice if there was a
real effort by the school to include us, to include the
8th floor [Lakeview] as a place where writers can show
their work.”
Responding to the question about the disparity,
Collier said, “I think we should think more creatively
about what constitutes a studio practice. It is also
important to remember that resources are allocated
on the basis of curricular apparatus that supports it.”
“What we think we offer is the best curriculum, the
best faculty and the best community experiences that
are out there,” Collier added.
Navigating Studio
Allocations at
SAIC
‘When We Get
the Necklace Back,
We Won’t Display It
in a Museum’
FNEWSMAGAZINE.COM
12 NEWS DECEMBER
E
very year during the major Nepali Hindu
festival, Dashain members of the Nepal Heritage
Recovery Campaign hope that this will be the
year that the Taleju necklace is returned to them.
“Whenever the festival arrives, we talk about how
great it would be if we get the necklace back during
this auspicious time,” said Roshan Mishra, a heritage
conservationist and member of the campaign. As
the Taleju temple opens only on the ninth day of
Dashain every year, thousands of people wait in line
for hours just to get a glimpse of the statue of the
Taleju Goddess, an important patron deity of
Kathmandu Valley.
But, for Mishra and many other Taleju
devotees, another year passed by without
seeing the finely crafted necklace filled with
semi-precious stones the deity once wore.
On display in Gallery 141 (Arts of Asia) at
the Art Institute of Chicago, the necklace
is a 17th century inscribed gilt-copper
artifact first loaned to the museum in
1976 by the Alsdorf Foundation, a
Chicago-based art institution. The
foundation bought the necklace in
the same year from Bruce Miller
Antiquities of Sausalito, California.
Later, in 2010, the foundation
donated the necklace to the museum,
which displays the decorated artifact
with the inscription, “Victory to
Mother Goddess [Bhagavati devi Janani].
Hail! [This is the necklace of the king
of kings, lord of kings, lord of poets, the
victorious Pratapamalladeva (may he be)].”
In the summer of 2021, a Nepali assistant
professor at Virginia Tech University, Sweta
Banu Bajracharya, posted a picture of the
necklace on X (formerly Twitter), which quickly
drew attention from around the world —
including from Nepali people and officials — as
the museum’s wall text stated that the necklace
belonged to the Taleju Goddess. While the necklace
had attracted some attention for its artistry, it wasn’t
until 2021 that calls for its repatriation began to
surface. Since then, several efforts have been made by
activists and government officials toward the recovery
of this necklace.
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY SHINA KANG (BFA 2027).
She cannot stop eating apples.
PHOTO BY Nitya Mehrotra (MAFVNMA 2025). She
is the Multimedia editor of F Newsmagazine. She is
a documentary filmmaker and animator from
Delhi, India.
How a sacred necklace of
Nepal’s Hindu goddess
reached AIC
REPORT by Ankit Khadgi
Nepali people want the necklace in
rightful place
It’s been 47 years since the necklace left Nepal. Before
Bajracharya’s tweet, there was no reported uproar
among the Nepali community nor known efforts made
for its return.
But now that they know its location and its
connection to the temple and the goddess, the Nepali
people say they want the necklace back. They say
that its rightful place is in the temple of the Taleju
Goddess.
“The Museum should return the necklace. People
should understand that we can’t treat it like a necklace
that belongs to a human being. It’s a necklace that
belongs to a goddess. It’s not just an accessory. But a
part of the goddess itself,” said Aashish Mishra.
The admin of Lost Arts Nepal, a Facebook page
dedicated to identifying lost artifacts of Nepal, also
wrote that AIC should return the necklace as soon as
possible.
“In general, Nepali society and culture revolves
around faith and traditions. The deities are the
Guardians and our belief in faith keeps us secured,
calm and happy. The absence of the deities of
worship creates voids in our faith, many practices and
traditions are also lost with it,” an admin of the page,
who prefers to stay anonymous, said.
But if and when AIC will return the artifact is a big
question.
According to a spokesperson from the museum,
AIC is trying its best to address the concerns people
have regarding the necklace and its repatriation.
“Repatriation discussions are exceptionally
complex and can take significant time, but every effort
is made to resolve these matters,” they wrote to F
Newsmagazine.
“The Art Institute of Chicago has been in contact
with the government of Nepal. We sent a letter in
May 2022 and are awaiting a response. We are open
to learning about any additional information the
government has to share on this matter and will
continue working directly with the government of
Nepal.’ the statement further reads.
A spokesperson for Nepal’s Department of
Archaeology told the ProPublica and Crain’s Chicago’s
Business officials are still looking for the evidence
they were asked to provide but maintain that the
inscription on the necklace is “irrefutable” proof that
the necklace belongs to the country.
Nepali heritage activists who spoke with F
Newsmagazine accept that repatriation can be a
lengthy process.
“However, the museum needs to be transparent
and communicate the process of repatriation to
everyone,” said Mishra.
As conversations about the repatriation of artworks
to their countries of origin and communities have
flourished recently, several other art institutes
and museums in the country are becoming more
transparent about their provenance.
The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston allows visitors
to search its provenance online. And the San Antonio
Museum of Art and the Denver Museum of Art allows
users to search for repatriated objects.
The AIC, by comparison, does not have a section
on its website dedicated to repatriated objects, nor
does it mention whether an artifact on display has
been claimed by other community members and
countries. In fact, in 2022, according to ProPublica’s
article, it didn’t repatriate any objects, even though
several countries have made and continue to make
claims of ownership of objects in the AIC possession.
AIC’s failure to release a statement explaining the
status of the repatriation,
even after the
ProPublica and
Crain’s Chicago
Business
article,
The history
Before Nepal was formed, the country was divided
into several princely states. In the Kathmandu Valley,
the Malla kings were the rulers. The Malla kings had a
keen interest in art, culture, and architecture. Several
heritage monuments that they built are still intact
and attract the attention of millions of tourists in
Kathmandu.
Pratap Malla, who ruled from 1641 to 1674, was
one of the most popular kings. Art historians and
cultural experts who spoke to F Newsmagazine said
the necklace belonged to the Mallas of Nepal. Cultural
writer and journalist Aashish Mishra described Pratap
Malla as “a king who was also an art connoisseur.”
“He was a lover of arts,” said Mishra. “He was
the one who offered this necklace to his kul devata
(guardian deity). And after that, it became a part of
Taleju goddess and its rituals of worship,” Mishra said.
In 2022, Udhav Karmarcharya, the main priest of
Taleju Temple, found a hand-written scroll from his
family collection that mentioned the necklace as one
of the gifts that was offered to the goddess. “The scroll
was written in Nepalbhasa [a language spoken by
the indigenous Newa people, said Karmarcharya. “It
clearly states that the necklace was offered by Pratap
Malla. The description about the necklace in the scroll
matches with the artifact that is currently displayed at
AIC.”
On its website, AIC offers the following description
of the necklace: “This ornament may have been given
by King Pratapamalla (r. 1641–74), ruler of the Malla
dynasty of Nepal, to Taleju Bhavani, the revered
patron goddess of the old palace in Kathmandu
and the chief protective deity of Nepal and its
royal family. King Pratapamalla may also have
worn this collar when he participated in
rituals.”
Worshipping Taleju and performing
various rituals to strengthen the state’s
relationship with the goddess has a long
tradition in Nepal. Several Nepali Hindu
deities considered Taleju to be one of
the manifestations of Durga Bhavani,
a major goddess often associated with
bravery, protection, strength, and war.
According to Erin Thompson, an
art historian and professor at the City
University of New York, kings and
rulers often made offerings to Taleju
to strengthen their relationship with
Durga.
“Durga is a goddess that fights against
death, disorder and chaos. And so you
offer worship to her to ask for her help
and protection for you, or your family, and
as the titular deity, for Nepal as a whole.
That’s what the king gave a necklace for as
reinforcing this relationship of protection of
Nepal,” said Thompson.
So how did a necklace that belonged to such
an important deity end up at AIC in Chicago?
According to The Nepali Times, a Kathmandu-
based publication, the necklace was moved from
the temple to a nearby museum for safekeeping in
the1970s. In 1976, the necklace disappeared.
“The government wanted to move the treasures
for safe-keeping, but it got stolen anyway. The high
priests at the time had warned officials that this would
anger the powerful Taleju god. Sure enough, within a
year, King Mahendra died,” Karmacharya, the eighth
generation high priest of the Taleju Temple from the
family, told the Nepali Times. Nepal’s monarchy was
abolished in 2008.
No one knew the whereabouts of the necklace or
who was responsible for its disappearance until an
in-depth article on the necklace by ProPublica and
Crain’s Chicago Business — published in March —
asserted that the necklace was definitely stolen from
Nepal.
According to AIC’s provenance, The Alsdorf
Foundation purchased it on June 22 from Bruce Miller
Antiquities of Sausalito, California, within a year of its
theft.
NEWS 13
2023 F NEWSMAGAZINE
Ankit Khadgi (MFVCS 2024) is the Managing Editor of
F Newsmagazine. He just wants to sleep.
has raised flags among Nepali heritage activists, who
are concerned about how long Nepal will have to wait
to get the necklace back.
“We know that repatriation takes time. But if
private collectors have returned artifacts to Nepal why
can’t AIC do it,” said Mishra.
“AIC has remained silent
on this matter. They need
to cooperate and regularly
provide updates on
repatriation of the necklace.”
The museum needs to realize there’s a reason why so
many people are demanding this particular necklace
back. It’s because the necklace belongs to Taleju, our
titular goddess. It’s our living culture,” said Mishra. “I
don’t know what more proof the museum is waiting
for when the inscription on the necklace itself verifies
that it belongs to Nepal.”
One of the reasons Thompson believes the
Museum hasn’t returned the necklace is because if it
does, it will have to return several other artifacts that
other communities also claim.
The investigation by ProPublica and Crain’s
Chicago Business found that four artifacts, including
the necklace, given to the museum by the Alsdorf
family, were looted from Nepal or illegally exported.
In addition the investigation found that 24 objects
from the Art Institute’s Alsdorf collection have
incomplete provenances by modern standards.
Thompson said that if the museum returns
the necklace, AIC will have to look at all the other
“donations” made by the Alsdorf family, which would
present them with more challenges.
“They know that if they return this necklace,
they’re going to have to also return a whole lot of other
artifacts to Nepal and to other Asian countries,” said
Thompson. “I’m saying this because this donation of
the necklace was made by James and Marilynn. If you
give that back, then you have to look into all the other
donations they have made, which have been I think
hundreds of objects to the Art Institute. So they are
worried about a large set of their objects. It’s not just
the necklace, it’s my theory,” she said.
It’s not yet clear when the necklace will be
returned. Kept in a protective glass case, the necklace
is more than 7,000 miles from the temple.
Karmacharya believed that the Nepali government
should use all diplomatic means to get the necklace
back.
“We have all the evidence. We are thankful that the
museum protected the necklace for so many years.
But the Nepal government should quickly solve the
problem and use all the diplomatic tactics to get it
back,” Karmacharya said.
Mishra said he hopes the museum will also soon
realize what the necklace means to the people of
Nepal and return it to the country voluntarily.
“Nepal was going through political upheavals due
to which we didn’t have the luxury to think about our
heritage before. But now we are more stable and we
want heritages back. Our objects were never made
so they could be kept inside museums. They are like
living objects made to exist in open spaces and live
with people,” said Mishra.
“When we get the necklace back, we won’t display
it in a museum. We will offer it to the goddess and will
keep it there. Because it is there where it rightfully
belongs,” he added.
FNEWSMAGAZINE.COM DECEMBER
DECEMBER
14 NEWS
ILLUSTRATION BY ALLEN YE (BFA 2023). He wants to
reincarnate into a monkey.
An Audition
forSympathy
Stories from the bus on the way to the largest
Pro-Palestinian protest in U.S. history
Report by Marium Asif
I
t was dark, and most of the passengers were asleep.
It wasn’t a comfortable place to rest, but they had
to, because tomorrow, Nov. 4, would be a big day for
everyone.
“Tomorrow we will be auditioning for sympathy,”
said Noura Hossini, a Palestinian-American riding the
bus to Washington, D.C. Hossini, like the rest of the
passengers, was gearing up to take part in what would
be the largest pro-Palestine protests this county has
ever seen.
At the beginning of the ride the driver turned off
the lights leaving most of the bus in darkness, so when
Hossini spoke, only part of her face was illuminated
by the fluorescent book light above her.
Hossini moved to the U.S. for college in 2011.
Displacement, for her, had been a constant. Born
in the U.S. to Palestinian parents, Hossini’s family
lived in Jerusalem when she was a child, and shifted
to Ramallah in the West Bank when she was in high
school. The two places, only 30 minutes away from
each other, were separated by the ]checkpoint,
manned by the Israeli military.
“It makes it very, very challenging to move between
cities. So even though I grew up in Jerusalem, I
probably went there maybe less than a handful of
times since I moved, because you need a permit to go
from the West Bank to the Israeli occupied territories,”
she said.
Hossini spoke of her past as an orator, who was
incredibly rehearsed, striking emphasis on the right
points and pauses for maximum effect.
Hossini’s parents currently live in Ramallah (in
the West Bank), her maternal family lives in Nablus
(also in the West Bank), and her paternal family lives
in Jerusalem. Their displacement from Jerusalem to
Ramallah was something forced upon them through
laws mandated by the occupation of Jerusalem.
“My dad moved to the U.S. for school, and wasn’t
able to renew his blue ID, which is the Israeli ID. And
when he tried to do so, it took him 15 years, and he
still wasn’t able to get it in the courts. And then that’s
why we had to move from Jerusalem to the West
Bank,” Hossini said.
Back in Jerusalem, Hossini’s family celebrated
Friday dinner together. Her family hosted 30 people
every week on Fridays, and she described it as her
community and culture. It’s one of the things she
misses most about home.
She lamented about the yearn for community, and
how it contradicted her introvertedness.
“I’m in America, and I don’t have to be worried
about what I say on the phone unlike my mom, but I
miss my home and my family, and I’m going to D.C.
because for all the freedom of movement in America,
I miss my home and family,” Hossini said.
For Hossini, the protest in D.C. would be the
biggest stage for something she’d been doing her
whole life. And this time, she was doing it with two of
her brothers who were making the trip with her.
“While Palestinians are being murdered and
slaughtered, I have to keep telling people like, ‘No,
we’re not monsters. We’re not anti-Semitic.’ There’s a
genocide happening, and I have to keep telling people
this, despite having already said it many, many times,”
Hossini said.
The Palestinian struggle is layers upon layers
of torment, according to Hossini. Those who have
been able to stay in their land live under systemic
oppression and have grown used to people dying
in tens everyday. The ones who live abroad are
constantly attempting to humanize themselves.
“Why do I have to do this dance for you to care
about the Palestinian cause? Every single Palestinian
has to always tiptoe and audition for people’s
sympathy, and I’m so tired of that,” Hossini said.
For Hossini, the protest in D.C. was reminiscent of
the 1963 March on Washington, where Martin Luther
King, Jr. made his “I Have A Dream” speech.
“I feel like that’s what drove me to want to be there
to be with everyone under one sky, to make waves and
make people listen coming from all parts of the US.
Standing there, screaming the same thing, I want to
feel united for one cause,” said Hossini
Palestinians don’t fear death
“Why am I going to D.C.? I’m going to DC to fight for
my home I’ve never seen. And I’m 44 years old,” said
Faten Alyen.
Faten Alyan and Fatima Alyan, two sisters sitting
together on the thirteenth row in the bus, had woken
up at 5 a.m. when the bus made a pit stop outside
Maryland, and it was hard for them to drift off to sleep
again as the journey continued, knowing that they’d be
in D.C. in fewer than three hours.
Faten Alyan and Fatima Alyan insisted on the
camera keeping both of them in the same frame
instead of breaking the interviews up. Palestinian
stories, they said, were similar enough across families
that they started to lose impact. It was better if their
story was told together.
The story of their family followed the same
narrative as that of many other Palestinian refugees.
Their grandparents were among the first to face
dispossession in the Nakba of 1948, and now they were
the third generation refugees-turned-immigrants.
Photo by Marium Asif
2023 F NEWSMAGAZINE NEWS 15
Marium Asif (MFA 2025) is a first-year graduate
student from Karachi. She explores dystopian
elements/events, mythology, folklore and magical
realism themes both in her creative fiction, and non-
fiction personal essays.
Imperialism breaking up homelands was not a
foreign concept to me either. Though it was hard for
me to say this to them knowing that my struggle was
that of my grandparents and theirs was ongoing.
“Ironically enough, I took the same journey over
two decades ago. And I had two young kids at the time,
and I remember getting on the bus with my husband,
a small group of people, and taking this same
overnight journey to DC in March. Here I am, like, two
decades later,” said Faten Alyan.
For 25 years, Faten Alyan has been marching in the
streets calling for the liberation of Palestine.
According to Faten Alyan, it’s different this time
around. She’s compared the numbers, the people
in the audience advocating for Palestine, and the
knowledge people have in 2023 with each other. She
said she thought D.C. was a possible turning point for
the Palestinian struggle.
Even so, Faten Alyan was unsure about going to
D.C. for the Nov. 4 March. She said it was because of
security reasons — not the police or danger of arrests
— because just the weekend before, her daughter and
her had almost been assaulted at a march in Chicago.
“It took me a long time to decide to go to D.C. It
was more because of safety concerns — the shooter
at the Chicago rally really scared me. But, I made
the decision to go on Wednesday. There are some
things you just can’t stay silent about. It makes you
complicit,” said Faten Alyan. (On Oct.28, a man fired
a gun short in Skokie during a pro-Palestinian
protest; another man attacked the demonstrator
with pepper-spray).
I nodded along. She had encapsulated the fears and
justifications every international student I had spoken
to had shared with me.
Fatima, Faten’s sister who had been silent for most
of this conversation, spoke up now to disagree with
her sister.
“Death wasn’t a fear for me. I don’t fear death. I’m
a Palestinian. We’re the voice for the voiceless and if I
die marching, then I die marching,” said Fatima Alyan.
For Faten Alyan, going to protests has never been
a thing to debate. For her, going to D.C. was another
step to end American hypocrisy. She was tired of being
portrayed as a benefactor of America’s goodwill.
“They talk about taking us in, but they neglect the
simple fact that our ancestors didn’t migrate here
willingly. They were happily living in their country,
in their homeland, in their villages. And then foreign
nations came in and destroyed their country. And then
the same nations and countries that destroyed their
country tried to put on like the Superman cape. We
don’t need your goodwill, you’re the reason our people
are dying,” said Faten Alyan.
Faten Alyan said the expected turnout in D.C. was
hope for her that the time to go home was near.
“We will all willingly go back to our country, but
you need to give Israel half your country, just like you
[white people ]decided to give Israel our country and
take your blood money with you. We won’t even pack
our bags. We will pick ourselves up and leave,” said
Faten Alyan.
From Little Palestine to Palestine
M, a Palestinian, is from what used to be called Little
Palestine in Chicago. (F Newsmagazine is using only
her first initial to protect her privacy.)
“Before Little Palestine, I lived in Nablus in the
West Bank. Before that,
my family lived in the
Jenin refugee camp. I
don’t know what to say
when people ask me
where I’m from. No, I’m
not from Chicago, I’m
from Palestine,” said M.
M laughed when
she talked about how
the neighborhood in
Chicago, Near 87th Street
and Harlem Avenue was
renamed and the name
Little Palestine was
removed. She compared
it to the erasure
Palestinians have seen
their entire lives.
“Half my memory of Palestine is sitting in a car
going from Nablus to Jerusalem, spending hours in
the car because the colonizing military won’t even let
us visit our own homes,” she said. “I’m a foreigner on
a student visa in America and I don’t need to show any
ID when I’m going from one state to the other but they
want me to shut up when I can’t even go home? Fuck,
No.”
M said she was going to D.C. because she doesn’t
have a lot of time. She’s an international student and
she only has a few years before she has to leave the U.S.
and she intends to do as much as she can.
“Deportation? Why would I be scared of that? No, I
want to go home. I don’t want to stay here. Go ahead,
send me home, but until I’m here, my body is going to
be in every place Palestine needs it to be. Palestinians
get used to fear.”
For M, going to D.C. was as necessary as telling her
story.
“I march to keep Gaza’s name alive. Israel is a failed
colonial project and the U.S. will do anything to prevent
it from collapsing. I have a connection to this land, if
Palestine dies, I die and I cannot see it go,” M said.
“I’m seeing people get desensitized to Palestinian
deaths. They can’t do that. Only Palestinians can
because they have to. Palestinians die a lot, like, oh,
two people died in Nablus yesterday. Sure. And you
move on. You get used to arrests a lot. Oh, he was in
prison for 15 years, and he just. But if you don’t live
there, and you know you’re not next to die, then you
don’t get to be desensitized,” M said.
Photo by Marium Asif
Fall Undergraduate
Exhibition 2023
DESIGN BY SHINA KANG (BFA 2027). She cannot stop
eating apples.
110 artists, 110 stories
REVIEW by Da Zhuang
FNEWSMAGAZINE.COM
16 ARTS DECEMBER
T
he Fall Undergraduate Exhibition at SAIC Galleries from
Nov. 3 to Nov. 17 showcased the culminating work of more
than 110 graduating seniors. This exhibition featured the
ambitious and innovative interdisciplinary work of SAIC students.
It is a living example of the crossing of disciplines and challenging
assumptions that SAIC encourages in each student. Family, friends,
and visitors of all kinds attend this admission-free exhibition.
Here are 12 pieces on display at this year’s show.
02
02
04
04
01
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03
03
J Jiang,
“Man” and “Wounded” (2023)
“Man” stands at the entrance, a cane resembling a bowing figure,
inviting people into the space. Oxtail bones are in the position of the
human spine, and the capsules stand on the surface of what would
be the top of a head.
“Wounded” is a Band-Aid-shaped object made of a bedding set.
Its enlarged scale emphasizes the exclamation mark-shaped scar in
the center. It is in conversation with semiotics: its material speaks
from the bedroom which contains the body, and hanging nails
contextualize the work in a public space.
Thomas McIntyre,
“Breezway Jamboree” (2023)
“Breezway Jamboree” is situated in an isolated gallery room
and examines a space of causal interaction with home by using
precious and utilitarian objects. The pieces of furniture, which
resemble characters, seem to conduct unceremonious exchanges.
These pieces mimic human and animalistic qualities, calling into
question the value typically ascribed to everyday domestic objects.
photo credit
to Emma Lacy
Ruihong Liu,
“The boudoir of
recollection” (2023)
“The boudoir of recollection” is characterized by
soft and intimate qualities that explore the fragility
and significance of memories, offering a space for
contemplation and connection, while safeguarding
precious memories. The artist perceives this piece
as an inner sanctuary and a reflection of her soul.
The circular coiffure seam serves as a covert
gateway to reveal the iridescent pearl nested within
its pristine shell.
Olivia Jobbe,
“I Am Not A Baker
(Made With Love)” (2023)
“I Am Not A Baker (Made With Love)” is an
autobiographical body of works that uses humor,
a personal multiplicity of femininities, and radical
vulnerability bred through compulsive truth-telling
to reflect the artist’s views of the multiplicities of
womanhood: embracing, rejecting, and satirizing
preconceived notions of femininity. It is done with
an emphasis on fine craftsmanship, the use of
masculine materials, and modes of making that are
based on sculptures of the early avant-garde rejection
of the narrow view of female capability and false
guise of evolved thinking.
Da Zhuang (MFAW 2025) is a staff writer at F
Newsmagazine. She loves dogs, the sea, and soft
boiled eggs, but hates spiders, cinnamon, and cold
rain.
ARTS 17
2023 F NEWSMAGAZINE
07
07
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12
08
08
05
05
06
06 09
09
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11
Ash Nañoz,
“Hold The Girl” (2023)
“Hold The Girl” invites viewers to contemplate their
perception of safety and the naiveté encountered when
their loved ones entered their space. The artist finds
self-defense in what their eyes and ears can perceive
and is investigating their identity as a first-generation
Filipino-American. The plushies in the middle are from
the collection of keychains from Ash’s father and serve
as a visual sign of familiarity and comfort.
Isabela Ortega,
“give the pointless a
decent resting place” (2023)
“Give the pointless a decent resting place” is a piece
for the first-generation forced to leave their countries
and only feel safe in the crevices of the societies of the
countries where they move. Here the domestic space
has become a dichotomized chamber of comfort and
fallacy. Born in Albuquerque, NM, Isabela’s family
and Chicana identity have inspired her understanding
of the borderlands. The artifice of a dwelling so far
removed from where one truly feels is “home” channels
deep grievance while also introducing agency.
Lia Syona Schnacke,
“Comfort in Chaos” (2023)
“Comfort in Chaos” is a piece that embodies fun
elements from childhood to the present, including
toys and gifts from the artist’s friends and family. The
work explores the individual experience each person
with ADHD has when interacting with visuals and
sounds. The artist embraces the fun of comfort that
can be found in chaos.
Yaqi Zhou, “Threads of
Time” (2023)
“Threads of Time” is a drawing that reveals the
history of tea vessels and stories of the past. Bronze,
porcelain, ornate, and Yixing clay objects are depicted.
The intricate details of history are revealed through
the unwavering dedication of people, following the
journey of time.
Meng-Chu Huang,
“TAIPLE” (2023)
“TAIPLE”, derived from TAIWAN’s temple, is a project
committed to bridging tradition and modernity,
connecting people with Taiwan’s spiritual heart, a time-
honored temple culture. Its goal is to enhance visitors’
experiences by simplifying access to desired temple
destinations with visually captivating illustrations.
Katherine Fabiola
Tenorio-Ramos,
“Soup with Cheese” (2023)
“Soup with Cheese” is a how-to short story that uses
beloved family recipes to explore college students’
homesickness. The display functions as a frame to
offer an in-depth and authentic experience for the
audience while also highlighting the artist’s book.
Ji Youn Park,
“The Fragments” and
“Time Tower” (2023)
“The Fragments” and “Time Tower” present a visual
timeline of the artist’s growth and evolution. They
encapsulate the essence of her personal memories
and delve into a realm of symbolism and nostalgia.
The composition features three distinct objects:
a LEGO piece (representing the playful echoes of
childhood), a pineapple (emblematic of the vibrant
experiences of adolescence), and flowers (capturing
the blooming moments of the twenties). It invites
viewers to contemplate their own memories and
connections to these symbols.
Michael Powers,
“The ‘Stay-A-While’
Reading Nook” (2023)
“The ‘Stay-A-While’ Reading Nook” is a homey and
interactive installation designed for reading comics.
With warm color, consistent subject, and repeated
motifs the space incorporates ceramics, prints,
drawings, paintings, sewn, and tufted artworks to
bring comics to life in different mediums.
FNEWSMAGAZINE.COM DECEMBER
18 ARTS
safelight in photographic dark rooms, or nightclubs,
rather than that of lived-in houses. Both of these
artificial lights attempt to keep the glare of the
outside world at bay if it does enter. The opposite is
seen in “Coat Hanger” (1980) a rare photograph where
light from the outside recklessly penetrates domestic
space. By the sunny window, so bright that the details
of the landscape have faded, two bodies connected
to a clothes hanger — or it is stuck between their
buttcheeks — lean their weight on the door edge, as if
wanting to rush out. The glass door blocking its way
tells the subjects to be inside, be safe.
Bodies are the safe haven for their identity; when
that function is lost, they become inanimate shells.
This desolation presents views that are half-dreamy,
half-real, artificial, and fluttering. Despite the scenes’
brilliance, the shells are only a temporal disguise as
identities continue to struggle. This too, for DeSana,
shall pass.
Jimmy DeSana: Suburban was on display at
Document (1709 West Chicago AveChicago) from Sept. 9
toOctober 28. The exhibition was organized by Document
and P.P.O.W.
DESIGN BY ALLEN YE (BFA 2023). He wants to
reincarnate into a monkey.
body buries its head in a
kitchen sink, becoming a
shambles in contrast to the
tidy view in “Sink” (1979).
The clock next to the
figure seems a reminder
of the transience of this
existence. Both images
depict an odd scene
wherein these bodies
are compelled to clean
themselves, albeit in a
torturous way.
The cheerful,
monstrous shadow
dancing on the corner
of the wall in “Extension
Cord” (1979) satirically
reflects the cramped body
standing on a cord while balancing a chair, whose
legs reach up to the ceiling. The body seeks to extend
beyond the frame but is unable to, so it becomes
a tangled extension of household items, with the
shadow joyful but the figure trapped.
This living struggle is further revealed in
“Cardboard” (1985) where
a body tries to fit into six
pieces of cardboard. The
body and its cardboard
shell buckle, and the
figure must feel a lack
of comfort as they press
their head into the dead
corner. A hermit crab
might also feel the same
discomfort. Likewise,
the body in “Four Legs
with Shoes” (1980) is like
a tortoise who is yelping
“Help!”
The monochromatic
lighting is reminiscent of
“Suburban,” the first Chicago solo exhibition of
the counterculture photographer Jimmy DeSana
— who lived in New York’s East Village in the
1970s — exhibiting 12 surreal photographs (completed
between 1979 and 1985) . The hues of “Suburban” are
far too wild to sit in family-photo frames on household
walls. Punk-pink, spellbound green, and zealous
red dye light the domestic interior with a downtown
New York aura. This visual context exposes bodies’
queerness as if they were free to express their joy
and beauty.
In the early 1980s, queer bodies became the
target of bigoted fear in the public and in the media
regarding the HIV/AIDS epidemic. DeSana died an
untimely death from complications of AIDS. People
were unable to express their identities, and so they
retreated into shells. DeSana, who was active in
the queer mail art network on AIDS-related issues,
preserves these bodies through a breathtaking lens by
turning them into sculptures, or inanimate
household items.
In “Soap Suds” (1980) a body floats lighter and spills
faster than any other suds coming out of the toilet.
The red color throughout evokes a feeling of nausea at
the smell of toilet cleaner encountering soap. Another
Photographer Jimmy DeSana
stages queer bodies in relation to
inanimate housewares
Review by Thuy-Tien Vo
Thuy-Tien Vo (MA VCS 2024) is a Vietnamese
performance artist, curator and poet whose work
often creates discomfort within U.S. institutions.
Bodies,
Bodies,
Bodies
Jimmy DeSana, “Extension Cord” (1979) (all images
courtesy of the Jimmy DeSana Trust,
Document and P.P.O.W.)
Jimmy DeSana, “Soap Suds” (1980)
Jimmy DeSana, “Four Legs with Shoes” (1980)
2023 F NEWSMAGAZINE LIT 19
I’ll share it with you. Mind you, it’s not pretty. And that’s okay. That’s what real
sex is like. So, here is Sisel’s Sexual History rewritten four times:
M
elisa Febos is a superstar in the literary world. Her book “Body Work”
— part memoir, part craft textbook — was chosen as an NPR Best Book
of the Year. It’s the textbook used by Profesor Kathie Bergquist in the
class “Queering the Personal Essay,” where students get to read and write about
marginalization from a personal nonfiction perspective.
Febos’ second chapter is titled “Mind Fuck.” It tackles the complicated subject of
writing about sex. Her argument is that sex is typically depicted in literature from
the perspective of a dominant narrative.
Society has constructed a story of what sex is supposed to look and feel like, but
that narrative is based on the dominant construct of male desire. What does society
think men want in sex? This is different from what people genuinely want from
their sexual experiences and partners, but the blueprint is already an insidious
parasite in our collective psyche.
The way to break the cycle of reading and writing the same generic sex scenes is
personal awakening. To be aware of the dominant narrative is to be able to oppose
it or to write into it intentionally.
Example: Are we writing exclusively about heterosexual sex? If we’re writing
about queer sex, under what framework are we doing so? What stereotypes are we
evoking? Questions like these can transform us into heightened versions of our
writerly selves. Through interrogation of the paradigm, we awaken into writers who
are in conscious control of how we challenge the dominant sexual narratives or
adhere to them.
Febos suggests that we know we are in control of our writing when we can justify
every sentence, word, and punctuation choice of our sex scenes. Although, it’s
enough to be in control if we, as writers, can pinpoint the motivations, desires, and
obstacles characters face in their sex scenes … as if we were discussing any other
well-written platonic scene.
The thing that resonated the most with me about “Mind Fuck” is Febos’ idea that
sex, and writing about sex, is performative. The sex we have is directly influenced
by collective beliefs of what our bodies should be like, and how we should sexually
perform.
Despite our attempts to be as authentic as possible with sex, the bedroom
can become a performance space. So can our writing. We might want to say
and do things because that’s what we think others want from us, consciously or
unconsciously.
My vow to you, dear “Slut Saga” reader, is to be in control of my narrative about
sex — to be aware of the performance, to write with authenticity.
Febos proposes a writing exercise: Wwrite your sexual history in five sentences.
Once that’s done, do it again but without repeating any of the previous sentences.
These new five sentences can be as specific or as broad as you want. You can write
about a defining moment, what you like in bed, or an overview of your partners.
When you’ve finished (pun not intended), do it again. Write five more sentences. Do
it again. Then, do it again until you can’t come up with anything new.
This exercise is meant to rethink the stories we tell about sex. It’s the awakening
we spoke of: Wwhat do we, as writers, focus on when describing sex? Where do we,
as people, go to in our minds when the topic is brought up?
My performance as a sex columnist is that I have no shame. But the truth is I
found myself shy when, in class, we were asked to do Febos’ exercise and then read
our responses out loud.
I choked. I let out a little whimper.
I inhaled a shallow breath. I felt vulnerable.
My resistance to sharing surprised me.
This was the first time I wrote about my sex life in a way that was personal, and
honest, and heartbreaking, and authentic. It felt raw to break the performance I
had built for myself.
I had sex for the first time at the age of 22. E and I had
sex at least twice a day, every day, during the two years
we were together. I loved having sex with him, although
sometimes I don’t like having sex. My antidepressants
make it really hard to cum. We broke up, but I want to go
back to having sex with E.
When I had sex for the first time, I dissociated five
times. I dated a boy named M for two years, and not once
did we have sex. A month after being with E, I knew I
was ready to have sex with him. I told my mom I lost my
virginity the same day it happened.
My sexual record with E was 16 times in a span of three
days. When E’s stepdad asked why we were still asleep
at noon, E’s mom responded with, “they’re young and
in love, not a lot of sleeping is happening.” Number 16
happened while we were waiting for my Uber to arrive …
the condom broke.
My specialty in sex is giving head. Both E and M said
I’m the best they’ve ever had. Other than that, I am a
pillow princess. I like being dominated, made submissive. I
love the topic of sex so much, I was afraid I was becoming
a sex addict at the age of 12. Funny enough, I came out as
asexual at the age of 16.
Sisel Gelman (MFAW 2025) was raised in Mexico
City. Her work has been published over 37 times.
#siselgelman has 3.1 million views on TikTok.
ILLUSTRATION BY BEI LIN (BFA 2023). He is trying his
hardest not to be replaced by AI.
F the dominant narrative
ESSAY by Sisel Gelman
How to Write a
Sex Scene
SLUT SAGA
FNEWSMAGAZINE.COM DECEMBER
20 LIT DECEMBER
W
hen the theme song plays, and it
slaps every time, I can’t help but
get up and dance. I sing it loudly
(I live alone). “First thing we’d climb a tree,
and maybe then we’d talk,” I sing. “You
are ahead by a century, you are ahead by a
century!” I belt.
I scream at the TV, like someone might
watch football. “She wants puffed sleeves,
Matthew! Mention the puffed sleeves!”
“The broach is between the couch
cushions Marilla, what are you doing!”
This is the “Anne with an E” experience,
the three-season television adaptation
by Netflix of the classic YA novel and
novel series, “Anne of Green Gables,” by
Canadian author L. M. Montgomery.
ILLUSTRATION BY ADITI SINGH (BFA 2026). She’s a
graphic designer and digital illustrator originally from
India, raised in Dubai, and recently moved to Chicago.
Really just a story about people
who hate an orphan
ESSAY by Katie MacLauchlan
Anne with an
Oh, Snap!
2023 F NEWSMAGAZINE LIT 21
Orphanage. Flashbacks. Again, hardcore.
Luckily, Anne has one true friend — Diana Barry
(Dalila Bela) — a kindred spirit, as Anne might say.
Although things do become a bit easier for Anne
when she befriends another classmate, Ruby Gillis
(Kyla Matthews). The lengths to which Anne will go
to convince the intolerant people of Avonlea to accept
her are wild. She wins over Ruby by literally rescuing
her house from a fire. I’m telling you, it’s action-packed.
Avonlea watching, Anne dashes into Ruby’s
burning home.
“Anne!” screams Diana.
Anne runs from room to room closing windows so
that the lack of oxygen will suffocate the fire. Everyone
from town is outside watching or assisting, including
Anne’s primary love interest, Gilbert Blythe (Lucas
Jade Zumann). Anne walks out, soot covering her face.
She’s a hero. The power of books.
Ruby must stay with the Cuthberts while her family
rebuilds their home, but she is distressed that people
might think she is Anne’s friend if she is truly to stay
at Green Gables.
Despite the hiccups, the girls end the staycation
as friends, and when Anne returns to school shortly
after Ruby leaves (she’s been skipping on the downlow
until Diana and Ruby bring her books to Green Gables,
blowing up her spot by accident) she has two friends.
In another display of intolerance, this time from
a grown-up, Mrs. Lynde — Marilla Cuthbert’s gossipy
friend and Green Gables’ neighbor — visits to take a
look at Anne and absolutely snatches her wig. “Well
they didn’t pick you for your looks, that’s sure and
certain!” Mrs. Lynde exclaims. She continues, “And
hair as red as carrots, dear, dear me.” Oh, snap!
“I hate you,” Anne spits, “How would you like to be
told that you’re fat and clumsy and that you probably
haven’t a spark of imagination in you. And I don’t care
if I hurt your feelings by saying so. I hope I hurt them.
Because you have hurt my feelings worse than they
have ever been hurt before and I will never forgive you
for this, never, never!” Whoa.
Anne runs vaguely into the fields. There is a lot of
breathless running from Anne in “Anne with an E,”
but I’m honestly super into it, and the cinematography
is good. Don’t lose that hat in the wind, girl.
She takes deep breaths on the cliff, tears flowing,
and one of her long red braids comes undone in
the breeze.
Despite its charmingly melodramatic moments,
“Anne with an E” is quite a moving show about
acceptance.
One thing I appreciate about “Anne with an E” is
the television series’ extension of the novel series’
author’s original intentions. “Anne with an E” expands
themes of acceptance in “Anne of Green Gables” to
appeal to modern audiences.
Many people reread and rewatch classics around
the winter holidays. They’re cozy and wholesome and
often reiterate family values. Several have Christmas
scenes or otherwise. Well-known and beloved
characters ignite the nostalgia within us. These
stories can feel as warm as a pair of mittens or a
cup of hot tea.
Sure, “Anne with an E” is loosely-based on the
much more tepid novel set in the late 19th century
and published in the early 20th century, but Netflix’s
adaptation is Hard. Core.
This is the modern remake of a beloved classic
you should binge over your holiday break, however
you celebrate. “Anne with an E” is an especially good
choice for viewers who want to celebrate found family
and family-making this holiday season, or for viewers
whose families might not represent a traditional
structure.
Maybe it’s the bookish, embarrassing girl in me,
but oh how I love to watch that clever redhead and
her friends run into burning buildings, deliver babies,
hop trains, ect. Read enough books and you, too, may
have the exact piece of knowledge you need in an
unprecedented emergency.
Honestly, “Anne with an E” is basically just the
story of a bunch of people who hate an orphan.
Avonlea, the series’ fictional village located on
Canadian Prince Edward Island, where Anne moves
after she is adopted by the Cuthberts, places value on
breeding, manners, and education.
Anne doesn’t fit the bill. She’s an ugly, skinny, red-
haired orphan girl adopted by accident.
I mean, even her adoptive parents, the elderly
Cuthbert siblings who own Green Gables farm, don’t
want her at first — it was a mistake. They needed a boy
to help Matthew Cuthbert farm. They’re going to have
to return her. Savage.
Of course, Anne wins them over in the end.
Avonlea takes a little bit longer.
Anne is so cringe. Finally she finds acceptance.
At school, Anne Shirley-Cuthbert (Amybeth
McNulty) is not popular. On her first day, she
decorates her hat with wildflowers, and although I
thought it was kind of a look, none of the other girls
did. Billy Andrews (Christian Martyn) barks at her,
muff muff, orphan dog.
Anne is doing the most when she is called upon to
read aloud during class, but she can hardly contain
her bookish enthusiasm!
I mean, same girl. She’s not a bad actor, either. She
just goes for it with her literary recitations.
In Anne’s defense, she’s this excited for
school because she hasn’t attended before; she’s
an autodidact — which we learn through Vivid.
Katie MacLauchlan (MFAW 2025) loves when a bag of
tea comes with a little quote.
I love uber-modernized film and television
adaptations of period pieces, but they receive a lot of
flack from literary fandoms. I’m thinking of the poor
reception of Netflix’s “Persuasion” in some Austen fan
spaces, but let me play devil’s advocate to the lit girls
out there who don’t want adaptations of their favorite
books to stray from dated source material. I’m sure
Anne would agree with me.
“Anne of Green Gables” was written in the early
20th century when queer themes had to be tucked
away in literature, but some folks still read “Anne of
Green Gables” as containing hidden LGBTQ+ themes.
There is long-established scholarly research on the
topic. In a modern context, why not explore these
themes more obviously?
Across the internet, there are Anne and Diana
ships. One Reddit user describes Anne as “maybe just
Diana-sexual.” While fanfiction content like this is
common, there is evidence of an intent by the author
to code characters as queer in the original “Anne of
Green Gables.”
Certainly so, in Netflix’s “Anne with an E,”
which adds openly queer characters to its cast and
even coming out moments. Whether you think it’s
fanfiction or canon, there are lots of fun moments for
the Danne ships in “Anne with an E.”
Mrs. Barry bans their friendship — Anne begs
Diana never to forget her!
“I’ll never have another bosom friend,” Diana says
(see: sobs), “I don’t want to. I could never love anyone
as I love you, Anne. Thou.”
“Wait, do you love me?”
“Of course I do. Why don’t you know that?”
“I thought you liked me of course, but I never
hoped you loved me.”
“I love you devotedly, Anne.”
“And I will always love thee, Diana,” Anne says as
they trade locks of hair in a really straight way.
Regardless of your take on the whole Gilbert vs.
Diana shipping conundrum (although the argument
could be made for bisexuality or that queer desire is
displaced in the form of forbidden love onto a new
object — Gilbert — since everyone knows Ruby has
liked Gilbert for years, Anne), kinship structures are
tweaked or, “queered.”
Neither of the Cuthbert siblings are married, and
their adoption of Anne late in life is a demonstration
of family-making. They come to cherish and love
Anne as their own, so really the show is broadly about
acceptance and a cringey, embarrassing, redheaded
people-pleaser.
I vastly enjoyed Netflix’s action-packed take on the
literary series, and over my holiday break, I’m going to
binge it for the third time. When I belt out that theme
song, my upstairs neighbor is going to groan, “that
cringey, embarrassing girl is watching ‘Anne with an E’
again,” and unfortunately for 2N, he will be right.
“You are ahead by a century! You are ahead by a
century!”
FNEWSMAGAZINE.COM DECEMBER
22 LIT
the girl got drunk, lay on the floor, gazed upon
the blank ceiling. Once a snow-white sketch of paint,
now a canvas of chaos. In those fragile moments,
memories of a boy resurfaced in her mind. She
believed that she could keep the people she missed
with her by meticulously preserving these memories.
However, in practice, the memories served a
different purpose — mirrors reflecting past mistakes,
highlighting how inadequately she had appreciated
the moments when they unfolded. She sifted through
I
n my parents’ house, a large fluffy toy nestles deep
in my closet.
I carefully unearth it.
A mini tie, a round tail, a gentle smile, two
button eyes.
It’s my middle school graduation gift — a
9-foot teddy bear — from Jimmy.
A whirlwind envelopes me. Ten thousand
osmanthus flowers burn. Memories flood back.
Jimmy walks me home.
We play basketball on a secret playground.
To get there, we go through the back door of a
bun shop, sneak around the doorman, and hide
ourselves among the trees.
Shanghai’s afternoon is bathed in honeyed
warmth. The temperature refuses to yield to
encroaching autumn. Amidst the heatwave,
osmanthus trees are in full bloom, the sweet
scent hanging in the air. A silken veil. As we
stroll, the scent reaches me. I look up.
Sunlight flickers behind brown branches
and yellow blossoms and falls on
Jimmy’s soft blue shirt. I am sure that
there is a moment when his tall
figure melts into a golden sheen.
When I was in middle school,
I loved Shoujo manga. My
naive heart got lost in the
pinky sakura spreading over
the paper. In those comics,
teddy bears usually appear in
heartfelt moments, and ever
since, I have been dreaming
about giant teddy bears. Then
one day a page out of my
favorite manga came to
life. Jimmy wheeled that
colossal teddy bear into
my parent’s garage.
Its white fur was so
voluminous that it
nearly obscured his
face.
The same golden
sheen came to me then.
After Jimmy moved
away, I spent my wild high
school years in our hometown
alone. I grasped at anything that felt like
love within my reach, like a starving beggar looking
for discounted groceries. I started reading and writing
romance novels. One went like this: A girl embarked
on an adventure, looking for a man whose heart could
be transformed by her true love, but she fell into a sea
of wounds and tears.
Sometimes, in the early morning, around 4 or 5
a.m., the sky was still shrouded in darkness. The rest
of the world was lost in slumber. While they slept,
Da Zhuang (MFAW 2025) is a staff writer at F
Newsmagazine. She loves dogs, the sea, and soft
boiled eggs, but hates spiders, cinnamon, and cold
rain.
ILLUSTRATION BY BEI LIN (BFA 2023). He is trying his
hardest not to be replaced by AI.
Memories of Shanghai, manga,
and plushies years later
ESSAY by Da Zhuang
Golden Moments
a box of shattered glass, digesting the tangled web
of her suffering.
But she never forgot the day she saw the
golden sheen. A child grabbed a hard candy,
swallowed it with the package, bloody
sweetness in her throat.
A subtle touch of raindrops on my coat. The
transition from summer to fall happens almost
overnight. One day, the cheerful melodies of
robins fill the air. The next, a gusty wind sweeps
through, carrying the scent of fireplaces. When
I was a child, I never liked the taste of chicken
soup, but now it is my favorite dinner choice.
My plane touches down in Los Angeles. I
walk across the bustling terminal, scan the sea of
strange faces.
Jimmy is there, standing amidst the throngs of
travelers.
The person who has seen me take
wrong turns at so many crosswalks yet
continues to turn off his engine and
wait for me. The person who stood
beside me at 12 stands beside
me again at 21. In that instant,
an overwhelming sense of
familiarity washes over me,
pales all the pain I have
endured.
Jimmy is driving me
home.
Jay Zhou pours from
the car radio on an
endless loop, soft ethereal
whispers of guitar echo
and disperse, familiar
lyrics repeat and blur into
the background. Red lights
turn yellow, then green.
I watch, trancelike, two
rows of light, bright red and
shining white, taillights and headlights
moving together. A long-lost sense of
security comes back to me.
Before the sun dips below the horizon,
nature whispers the secret of still time. The
sky becomes crimson and amber, casting a
warm glow over the earth. The river catches
fire, sparkling beneath the fading sun’s embrace.
A cascade of molten gold descends, creating
the illusion of permanence despite the impending
darkness. This is the golden moment. In my life,
similar moments arise. These are the moments that
speak directly to my heart, stirring up a complex mix
of pleasure and heartache. They are forever stored
in the closet of my being, reminding me of golden
threads woven into a tapestry.
I look at Jimmy. I see my golden sheen.
“Let’s have chicken soup for dinner tonight.”
2023 F NEWSMAGAZINE LIT 23
ILLUSTRATION BY ADITI SINGH (BFA 2026). She is a
graphic designer and digital illustrator originally from
India, raised in Dubai, and recently moved to Chicago.
continue to love ) Sailor Uranus. before i understood
my queer identity the way i do now, Sailor Uranus was
a representation of a character who was unabashedly
queer, a non-binary individual who was never forced
into a gender role, never the butt of the joke, and
never ashamed of who they were. they were famous
and rich, and their girlfriend was traditionally
feminine, furthering the visibility of their queerness.
they were a positive representation of queer
success, and molded my vision of what being
non-binary could look like, even before the term
“non-binary” was widely accepted. having them to
look up to gave me the courage and the vision to
accept the masculine and feminine sides of myself
without feeling like i had to give up one or the other,
and without feeling as though my identity was
compromised by fitting into a traditional mold.
Sailor Uranus makes me think about the
importance of fostering positive self-identities
through media. i was raised in a community that was
violently homophobic and transphobic, but i never
loathed myself for my queer identities. i wonder if
that was because, even through bleak times, harsh
statements, and negative ideologies, i saw people who
loved like me and were proud of it.
tv saved me. and i like to think that its saving that
little girl on the pink line the same way. maybe she’s
not gay, but she will never doubt if she can be a smart
and capable woman in STEM fields, because she saw
characters in her book who are just that.
as i get older, i think more about my childhood and
the impact it had on me. i watched so many cartoons,
tv shows, and movies, and they taught me so many
things about the myriad of ways people choose to live.
it taught me tolerance, acceptance, and empathy. but
most importantly, it taught me self-love and self-
importance.
i still have a long way to go to fully accept myself as
i am. but, at the end of the day, learning to love from
characters who have loved themselves has gotten me
a step closer toward the acceptance i crave. and that, I
think, is a beautiful thing.
with all my love, your honey bear.
i
have always been a magical girl megafan.
those bishoujo senshi helped mold me into the
boy princess i am today. i especially grew up with
Sailor Moon; Usagi was my first foray into the realm
of this specific genre of strong women who fought
on their own–using their own powers and their own
brains — who got knocked down, felt lost, sobbed their
eyes out, but always got up and gave everything they
had to protect themselves and others. they adopted
femininity in a way that made me love femininity, and
they looked cute doing it ! the Pretty Guardians and
their adventures have always held a special place in
my heart.
the other day i was riding the pink line west-bound
when a girl and her father sat down next to me on
the train. at first I didn’t think much of it, but when i
looked down briefly, i happened to be met by a volume
of the original Sailor Moon manga. i think about
Sailor Moon and her Pretty Guardians regularly, and
i know plenty of people in my personal life who do as
well. children, however, are not a regular part of my
day-to-day, so i was absolutely floored to see this little
girl, maybe 8 or 9, in her little pink beanie, reading
an english translation of volume four of the original
Sailor Moon manga.
it hadn’t even crossed my mind that something i
loved when i was younger could be enjoyed by young
people even today ( no, the irony of that is not lost on
me. shut up. ) the idea of someone much younger than
me loving a series that had such a huge part of my
heart had me kicking my feet, twirling my hair, kiki-
ing, and shit. i loved it. i loved it, i loved it, i loved it.
the girl kept looking over at me and hiding behind
her book, so i decided to be the bigger person and
start a conversation with her.
you’re reading Sailor Moon ?
she nodded real shy.
i love Sailor Moon. who’s your favorite ?
she told me her favorite was Sailor Mercury. i told
her my favorite was Sailor Uranus. she giggled, and i
smiled, and she even said nice to meet you when she
got off the train, so i think i made a little friend.
it wasn’t until i got off the train that i realized she
had mimicked Sailor Mercury a little in the way she
looked. she wasn’t wearing Mercury’s signature blue,
but her long blond hair was cut into blunt bangs dyed
purple ( i assumed they used to be blue, but had faded
into a warm purple ) just like the Sailor Guardian’s. if i
had to guess, i would say she probably loves math and
science, but still loves clothes and shoes and bright
colors. she saw a reflection of herself in the studious
Sailor Mercury, a young girl praised for her beauty
but praised more for her brains– a type of character i
scarcely saw in my own childhood.
i know this because it is the reason i loved ( and
they were a positive
representation of queer
success, and molded my
vision of what being non-
binary could look like
On falling in love with the sailor senshi
ESSAY by Honey Bear
Honey Bear (BFA 2025) is not a real person. Or are
they?
Riding the ‘L’ with
Sailor Moon
the grammar in this column is intentionally stylized to break american english rules. it is not a typo.
BUTTERFLY EFFECT
These Versions are Naughty, Not Nice
The 2019 “Peaky Blinders”-esque version of “A
Christmas Carol” isn’t great. I love Tom Hardy. I love
grungy fantasy, and having a scene in hell is a wild
choice. Why didn’t it work? The question, much like
Marley’s ghosts, haunts me to this very day.
Any of the Amazon Prime Vincent Price versions
are also bad. Depending on the year, you’re liable to
get a TV reading, a radio play, or some variation of the
two. I love Price’s voice, and you’d think it would work
for “Carol,” but it feels more like opening credits that
never go anywhere. For my money, the Bill
Hader parody Vincent Price Christmas specials
are much better.
“It’s Christmas, Carol!” from 2012 is like a Hallmark
love story where the big city girl goes to a small town
and falls in love with the sensitive Christmas artist —
but in this version, she never actually leaves the big
city in order to do so. Not even the late great Carrie
Fisher playing all three ghosts and Marley could save
it. I’d literally rather have just watched Carrie try on
different holiday-themed hats.
That 2009 CGI “Carol” where Jim Carrey tries to
capture the flame of my beloved live-action Grinch
film, and it falls so flat on its face I literally only
thought about it, so it could be added to this list.
Sorry, Jim.
Where Can I Find This Online?
These versions of A Christmas Carol I found out about
while researching for this article and want to see full
versions of.
“3 Ghosts” is a steampunk-inspired version for the
stage. For all of us nerds out there.
1997’s “A Christmas Carol” has Tim Curry’s voice
and Whoopi Goldberg’s everything.
The Alec Guiness (vintage Obi Wan!) radio
production from 1951. Maybe the BBC will re-release it
out of the charity of their hearts one year.
David Tennant and Michael Sheen have a recurring
gag about “A Christmas Carol” in their hit web series
“Staged.” Using their fictionalized self parodies, and
those of the famous friends they’d roped into being in
the episodes, would be a true joy to see.
Whatever is going on with the 2010 fan-made
“Mega Man” video game series is something I want to
see. Who doesn’t want to play against robots playing
ghosts from “Christmas Carol”? It’s not particularly
redemptive sounding, but a great reminder Christmas
can be fun, too!
ILLUSTRATION BY HAILEY KIM (MFAVCD 2024). She
cannot work without iced coffee and sweets.
In any case, I scoured the many many adaptations
of a “Christmas Carol,” delved through my own
memory banks, and watched a “The Jetsons” episode
illegally because Hanna Barbera isn’t getting a cent
of my money until they do a Blu-ray release of “Yogi’s
First Christmas.” Ones not featured on this list might
be in the online version of this article.
Adaptations that are already “A” tier, like “Muppet
Christmas Carol,” are just on the jingle my bells list
without another thought. There’s a reason for all
those December Kermit memes you see right up until
December 25. I’d wager Kermit himself could give
Mariah Carey a run for her money in kicking off the
holiday season.
Also, there’s a rumor that “Muppet Christmas
Carol” is the version most well-loved by Dickens
scholars for adhering closest to the spirit of the
original — or, at least among Dickens scholars who
like fun and joy.
These Versions Jingle My Bells (and that’s a
Good Thing)
1984’s George C. Scott version is the gold standard for
a reason. Made for TV, this is the one where you truly
get to see the creepy, malnourished orphans hanging
out under Ghost of Christmas Present’s coat. And if
you still have cable, it’s a great alternative to “It’s a
Wonderful Life.”
That “Xena: Warrior Princess” episode from 1996
where Xena and Gabrielle impersonate the Three
Fates on Solstice Eve (because Jesus hadn’t been born
yet). Everybody on “Xena” always really got into the
world they crafted, and it’s only with true heart that a
story set in 1840s London could really work in ancient
mythological times.
“Diva: A Christmas Carol” makes Vanessa Williams
the best female Scrooge (sorry Susan Lucci!), and also
is the only one on the list with one of the best female
pop Christmas songs of all time. Sometimes the snow
really does come down in June, just not for Vanessa
as Scrooge.
The 1999 “Christmas Carol” with Patrick Stewart,
which was created because of the success of his one-
man “Christmas Carol” show is also good. (When is
Brett Goldstein going to do the same? We’ve all seen
that video of you doing the Muppet medley as Kermit,
Brett.)
T
he “Adaptations of A Christmas Carol” wiki page
lists 397 entries. This really just means whether
you’ve listened to a cast recording, seen a
cartoon, gone to a stage play, read a Marvel “Zombies”
comic, seen Dolly Parton’s “Smoky Mountain
Christmas,” or had the tv on at grandma’s house
—- you’ve had some contact with Charles Dickens
arguably most famous classic.
In considering its perennial power and why it
lasts, “A Christmas Carol” really succeeds as a story
about how even the worst of us, deep down, wants
to be better. Ebenezer Scrooge is not just scared
into change, he’s reminded why money came to
mean so much to him in the first place, and for very
real reasons. And it succeeds mostly because of
three standout and iconic characters: the Ghosts of
Christmas Past, Present, and Future.
Specifically, the Ghost of Christmas Future sticks
out. If you think Christmas is all Jingle Bells and “ho
ho ho,” watch out, because Pete from the “Mickey
Christmas Carol” is just as terrifying as anything else
I’ve seen. He literally sends Ebenezer Scrooge McDuck
down to hell via his own open grave. It is not subtle.
As for getting better, the audience can see a real
change in Scrooge. His spooky reckoning reminds
him of the really important things, including his
relationship with his nephew Fred. Introduced as an
adversarial relationship, Fred is a kindred spirit to
Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s hapless employee about two
toes from the poor house himself. These are whom
Scrooge chooses to reconcile with as his first act of
turning over a new wintery leaf.
And for a film with “Christmas” in the title,
Christmas is really not the point —save for its English
winter setting in the 1840s. Though some versions
shove Jesus in the narrative, and there are allusions
to English Christmas traditions, it doesn’t feel like a
sermon you’d get at church with your family. It doesn’t
feel like it’s trying to convert you to a particular
branch or scare you into a religion. The ideals
are universal: charity, kindness, and duty toward
community.
Though the piece is usually set in the 1840s, when
it was written, the story is still easy to follow. And
when you update it, as in Bill Murray’s “Scrooged,” it’s
still effective and feels authentic to place and time.
—sometimes even made funnier by the updates. And
again, if you want scary, Bill Murray is both almost
tossed off a skyscraper and burned alive in his version.
John McDonald (MFAW 2025) (he/they) is a queer
playwright bent on telling stories that highlight the
diverse yet universal relationships we share. You’ll find
them scarfing doughnuts, brownies, and compliments
wherever the best ones are.
Forever Haunting
‘A Christmas Carol’
DECEMBER
FNEWSMAGAZINE.COM
Naughty and nice adaptation
ESSAY by John McDonald
24 ENTERTAINMENT
December 2023 Issue - Fnewsmagazine SAIC
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December 2023 Issue - Fnewsmagazine SAIC

  • 1. 2023 DECEMBER 06 08 16 ScheduleChange BFAExhibition SAICClimbingClub NEWSMAGAZINE THE SCHOOL OF THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO ARTS, CULTURE, AND POLITICS
  • 2. accountability, and communication regarding policy and decisions which she failed in some circumstances. Nonetheless, Tenny still had some success. She piloted and launched the First-Generation Fellows program, and the school affirms that Tenny’s work has contributed to the expansion of health and disability services on campus, while also diversifying the student population by 18%. In the 2017/18 academic year, 52 percent of students were white, compared with 34.1 percent in 2022/2023. These changes don’t happen in a vacuum. The ecosystem of SAIC needs the student body and faculty to advocate for these improvements. And still, there’s a lot that needs to be done. Even with the school stating that Tenny helped to expand health and disability service on campus, SAIC is still an inaccessible school for students with disabilities. And even with Tenny having worked to diversify the student and faculty population, 71 percent of SAIC faculty identify as white. In her seven-year tenure as President, Tenny could have made more improvements in accessibility, diversity, and equality. Nevertheless, it bears noting that not all the major decisions can be solely made by the president. Here is a quick rundown of the distribution of power in SAIC’s academic ecosystem: The power starts with the decision-making board. The president has power to preside over the university’s academic and administrative departments. Presidential duties include fostering a positive public image of the institution, maintaining a close relationship with the board to further the president’s agenda, and working with the entire university community to find common ground. When the school community demands change, the president needs to listen to those demands and fundraise to pay for that change. When determining the message the school would send in times of tumultuous changes, the president of SAIC sets the tone and fundraises based on that message. In a private university such as SAIC, fundraising is a major focus for a president, as state funding does not cover any funding for a private institution. As the first woman to be president in the midst O n March 21, President Elissa Tenny sent an email to the school community announcing her retirement. “Today, after a career in higher education of more than 45 years, I write to share that I will retire at the end of the 2023–24 academic year. I do so with enthusiasm for all you have done to shape the remarkable legacy that you, and I, and so many before us, share,” wrote Tenny. In 2016, Tenny became the president of School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and is the first woman in the school’s history to hold this leadership position. Before that, she served as provost of SAIC from 2010 to 2016, and was the vice dean of Bennington College from 2002 to 2010. Tenny became president in a time when significant events of the decade were taking place. The COVID-19 pandemic, which killed more than 6 million people, broke out during her tenure. In 2020, the country saw one of its biggest uprisings for racial equality in response to the murder of George Floyd by the police officer Derek Chauvin. The following year, SAIC’s non- tenure faculty took to the streets to protest for better wages, later forming a union in 2022. During all of these tumultuous events, she led SAIC. While she faced significant challenges since becoming president in 2016, her leadership has also been met with criticism. Several members of the SAIC community have described her as a person who is out of touch or ineffective, according to a report in The Chicago Reader. Her commitment on racial equality has been questionable; she didn’t publicly reprimand Provost Martin Beger even when many students at SAIC demanded his resignation after the harm his actions caused — reportedly he quoted a racial slur used by Elizabeth Eckford, a Black Civil Rights activist, in 2018 during his introductory lecture. Recently she was also criticized by some SAIC community members for her emails that addressed the current genocide of Palestinian people. Students said that her messagings depoliticized the events and failed to present a full picture of what is happening in Gaza. Situations like these highlighted the need for President Tenny to increase transparency, Illustration by Bei Lin. What does President Elissa Tenny’s departure mean for SAIC? of a pandemic, and civil unrest, it must have been challenging to lead a school. But she was also paid a hefty check for her job. Annually, she received more than $700,000, plus $48,000 for housing, which is more than the salary of other presidents who lead countries’ leading art colleges including Rhode Island School of Design and California Institute of Arts. For now, we still don’t know who will be Tenny’s successor. The SAIC Presidential Search Committee — which includes representatives from the Board of Governors, Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, and student body — will soon make a recommendation to the Board about a candidate who is suitable for the role. The new President will have a lot of work to do because the School has entered a new era. There’s a new energy among students and faculty, and they are more political than before. They have formed unions to demand better wages and improve their working conditions; they have frequently demanded equity conditions and diversification of the school in every way that can be and to make the institute a space where collaboration thrives. The new president needs to realize that arts and politics are not separate. The students and faculty, who are the heart of the institution, are affected by the policy, messaging, and fundraising which are political decisions. The president needs to act as a bridge between the decision making board and the students and faculty because the community is most impacted by decisions like the schedule change, changes in masking policies, which took place during Tenny’s tenure without any consultations from the community. The new president needs to perform their duties more efficiently and be accountable to all the students and faculty, whose lives are directly impacted by the choices the school makes. Every decision the upcoming president makes should be informed and considered that benefits the SAIC community as a whole. Because without us, the role of the president can’t exist. The SAIC community is responsible for the president’s existence, not vice versa. — F Newsmagazine Editorial Board Entering a New Era
  • 3. 06 19 22 23 25 12 16 08 20 24 26 28 14 18 10 Caring, Collaborating, Climbing How to Write a Sex Scene Golden Moments Riding the L with Sailor Moon 8 Merry Movie Mitzvahs ‘When We Get The Necklace Back, We Won’t Display It in a Museum’ BFA Undergraduate Exhibition 2023 Scheduling Conflict Anne with an Oh, Snap! Forever Haunting ‘A Christmas Carol’ Collecting Culture Featuring Works An Audition for Sympathy Bodies, Bodies, Bodies Navigating Studio Allocations at SAIC by Teddie Bernard & Sidne K. Gard SAIC’s Climbing Club provides a supportive community and a new way to work with chalk. by Sisel Gelman F the dominant narrative by Da Zhuang Memories of Shanghai, manga, and plushies years later by Honey Bear On falling in love with the sailor senshi by Sidne K. Gard Ranking kitschy Hanukkah films by Ankit Khadgi A tale of how a sacred necklace of Nepal’s Hindu goddess reached AIC by Da Zhuang 110 artists, 110 stories by Alex Lee & Da Zhuang The impact of the schedule change on SAIC’s community by Katie MacLauchlan Really just a story about people who hate an orphan by John McDonald Naughty and nice adaptions by Kit Montgomery Embrace your inner clutter freak by Teddie Bernard, Cam Collins, Eli Izzy Drake, Nasa Espinoza, Sidne K. Gard, Ellie Gerken, Kristen Lee, Mae Lyne, CHema Skandal, Veronica Timble, Ava Walkow, Forest Young. by Marium Asif Stories from the bus on the way to the largest Pro-Palestinian protest in the U.S. history by Thuy-Tien Vo Photographer Jimmy DeSana stages queer bodies and its relation to inanimate housewares by Khytul Qazi How interdisciplinary SAIC really is Art Director Bei Lin Designers Teddie Bernard Hailey Kim Allen Ye Shina Kang Aditi Singh Managing Editor Ankit Khadgi SAIC/News Editor Khytul Qazi Arts Editor Gordon Fung Entertainment Editor Sidne K. Gard Comics Editor Teddie Bernard Ellie Gerken Literature Editor Katie MacLauchlan Web/Copy Editor Maya Emma Odim Multimedia Editor Nitya Mehrotra Staff Writers Kit Montgomery Da Zhuang Schetauna Powell Alex Lee Office Administrator Alex Lee Webmaster Nick Michael Turgeon Distributor Kristen Lee Kit Montgomery Editorial Adviser Sophie Goalson Design Adviser Rochell Sleets Front Cover & TOC Design by Hailey Kim Back Cover Design by Bei Lin Take a look at our website!
  • 4. MCACHICAGO.ORG REBECCA MORRIS: 2001–2022 THROUGH APR 7 One of the most formidable painters working today, this exhibition presents a 21-year survey of the artist who is best known for her large-scale paintings and inventive approach to composition, color, and gesture. FAITH RINGGOLD: AMERICAN PEOPLE THROUGH FEB 25 Artist, author, educator, and organizer Faith Ringgold is one of the most influential cultural figures of her generation. This major retrospective spanning six decades presents a comprehensive assessment of the artist’s impactful vision, which bears witness to the complexity of the American experience. CHICAGO WORKS: MARYAM TAGHAVI OPENING DEC 20 Taghavi shares new works that expand her interest in perception by interrogating the space between the illusive vanishing point of the horizon and the immutability of distance culminating in an immersive installation. Exhibition view of Rebecca Morris: 2001–2022, MCA Chicago. Photo: Ricardo Adame. FREE ADMISSION WITH SAIC ID
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  • 6. FNEWSMAGAZINE.COM DECEMBER 6 SAIC ILLUSTRATION BY BEI LIN (BFA 2023). He is trying his hardest not to be replaced by AI. SAIC’s Climbing Club provides a supportive community and a new way to work with chalk REPORT by Teddie Bernard & Sidne K. Gard Caring, Collaborating, Climbing Wilson (BFA 2027) hangs around while explaining a climbing solution to a fellow club member.
  • 7. 2023 F NEWSMAGAZINE SAIC 7 Sidne K. Gard (BFAW 2025) is a queer writer and artist from New Orleans. They’re hyped to celebrate 12 Days of Christmas and eight nights of Hanukkah. Teddie Bernard (BFA 2023) is a multimedia artist and cartoonist who has never had a Pepsi. E very Tuesday night, after a long day in the studio, dozens of SAIC students find their way to Block 37’s First Ascent. Their mission? To rock climb. SAIC’s Climbing Club may be a newer extracurricular, but it’s quickly growing in numbers and grip strength. Carmela Murphy (BFA 2024) and JJ Galloway (BFA 2023) first started Climbing Club in Spring 2022. According to Murphy, when they first began holding Climbing Club sessions, about eight to ten students attended. Now, they have around 200 students signed up for the club with around 60 people regularly attending weekly meetings. Climbing Club has become a sanctuary for many artists at SAIC who have felt isolated by some classroom and campus environments. Because of the collaborative process of climbing, it’s an easy environment to meet friends for both those who are brand new to climbing and those who have climbed it all. “For me, it’s really meditative but it’s also great exercise,” said club member Maddie Cordell (BFA 2027). “I came to SAIC, and I transitioned. I kind of thought that sports was something I was going to give up, at least that was my expectation. I met some people who were climbers, and they brought me to this gym, to the climbing club, and I realized I didn’t have to give it up. I fell in love with climbing,” said June Thomas (BFA 2025). Thomas is one of Climbing Club’s current leaders. Climbing Club has also started a climbing team, separate from their club meetings. Murphy has five Fionn Kelly (BFA 2025) loves to climb! Look at them go. Climbing Club climbs every Tuesday night in Block 37’s First Ascent Gym. Pinzhu Yu (BFA 2027) climbs in the foreground while in the background, club leader June Thomas helps club members come up with solutions to climbing puzzles. “Each climb is like a puzzle. To solve the puzzle, it’s about moving your body creatively,” Carmela Murphy said at the start of every club meeting, Murphy takes time to teach new members the basics of climbing. Emma Crowley (BFA 2025) focuses on getting closer to the top of the climb with each step. years of coaching experience that she uses to create the lesson plans for the climbing team. The climbing team is currently SAIC’s only registered sports team. They will be competing in the USA Climbing Collegiate Division. Their first meet will take place Dec. 3 at First Ascent Humboldt Park and is the qualification for nationals. At this qualifying meet, SAIC’s climbing team will compete with climbers from across the midwest. Sports and art are often seen as opposing forces, but members of Climbing Club push back against that narrative. Trying to get support from the school sometimes feels like the journey of climbing a mountain. While the club has received support, they often find their next steps are up an even steeper hill. “I think the school should support our movement groups more and put more faith in our students to build the communities they want to build,” said Thomas.
  • 8. FNEWSMAGAZINE.COM DECEMBER 8 SAIC I n Fall 2023, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago initiated a significant update to its class schedule system — the first such change in over 40 years. We spoke with several students and faculty about this adjustment. Reactions among students and faculties have been mixed, but the majority have had complaints. ILLUSTRATION BY BEI LIN (BFA 2023). He is trying his hardest not to be replaced by AI. The impact of the schedule change on SAIC’s community REPORT by Alex Lee & Da Zhuang Scheduling Conflict
  • 9. 2023 F NEWSMAGAZINE SAIC 9 What’s New Studio classes are now shortened from six hours to five hours. Academic classes are now shortened from three hours to two hours and 45 minutes. The Reaction Despite the unaltered tuition fees, students find themselves having less time in class under the revised schedule. Those who started in the fall of 2023 spent 16.67 percent less time in studio classes and 8.33 percent less time in academic courses than students who have previously completed four-year BFA degrees before this change was implemented. The revised timetable reduces studio classes by 14 hours per semester. Consequently, a student enrolled in three studio courses will experience a reduction of 42 studio hours involving direct interaction with instructors and access to class-specific resources. According to Anne Harris, professor from the Painting and Drawing department, a decade ago, SAIC decreased the maximum studio size from 18 to 15 to provide students with more individualized attention from their instructors. Because of the schedule change, some of this progress has been reversed. Additionally, due to the consecutive scheduling of studio classes, those concluding at 3 p.m. need to commence cleanup at 2:30 p.m. or even earlier for the subsequent class, further diminishing available time. Harris underscored the negative impact on studio classes, emphasizing the diminished time for crucial activities. “My problems with the new schedule began before it was put in place because studio faculty weren’t consulted in the conception and design of this schedule even though it most impacts studio classes. Instead, we were invited to offer suggestions after the fact,” said Harris. “This schedule change significantly diminishes the quality of our studio classes. In my classes, the new schedule means significantly less time with figure models, less one-on-one time for direct feedback, and less time for critique, lectures, and so on. We also no longer have the time for those additional ‘Can I talk to you’ conversations, often after class,” Harris added. In response to the discontent several students and faculty had with the schedules, student Naomi Joyner initiated an online petition against the changes, garnering support from 99 students. The petition criticized the shift to earlier morning classes, potentially affecting students relying on the cafeteria for meals. The petition said that “as students and faculty of SAIC, they won’t let this happen quietly.” What’s New Morning academic classes now start at 8:30 a.m. and go to 11:15 a.m., and morning studio classes begin at 9 a.m. and go until 3 p.m., with lunch between 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. The Reaction Students living off-campus raised concerns around the earlier morning start times and extended evening hours. Earlier start times have negatively impacted attendance due to early morning commutes, while the extended evening hours have raised safety concerns for nighttime classes. First-year MFA student Kaiylah Michelle O’Quinn expressed worry over potential increased travel costs, particularly when relying on taxi services for a later journey home. “When I travel home from night classes, taxis usually get more expensive than during the day,” said O’Quinn. J Swain (BFA 2024) from the Department of Fiber and Material Study, said, “I need to take classes online for my health, which requires me to either pick from the 3 percent of classes that are offered online or to beg professors to let me take their in-person classes as modified in person. Unfortunately, I got stuck with a Saturday at 8:30 a.m. and a Wednesday night class ending at 9:30 p.m. I’m barely keeping myself awake and I don’t feel like I’m actually getting my money’s worth. The 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. window wasn’t ideal, but it was definitely better than what we currently have. I’m just grateful that it’s my second to last semester.” Isabella Barrera (BFA 2023) isn’t bothered by the late trip home; instead, she is frustrated by how the new class schedule works with the work- study schedule. Because the class schedule was updated without the work-study schedule, work- study employee shifts end before classes do. This is a problem because certain facilities cannot operate without work-study staff. “I wish that [classes] still ended at 9 p.m. because sometimes as a work-study, I have to stay past my scheduled shift to help close up the studio or ensure that teachers still have access to the things that they need,” said Barrera. Lunchtime also poses a challenge under the new schedule, as noted by Nick Aiello (MFA 2024). The adjusted timing, while beneficial for avoiding rush hour traffic, results in lunch becoming difficult. “When I have a 12:15 p.m. class, I have to eat lunch at 3 p.m. because the travel time to get to campus usually begins at 11:30 a.m. or earlier,” said Aiello. Professor Janet Desaulniers from the Writing department emphasized the disruption to the faculty’s routines, highlighting the absence of communal lunches and the hurried pace imposed by the earlier afternoon start times: “While they encourage students to feel free to eat during class, I find fewer do so now than did before the schedule change. Maybe there’s less time to prepare or pick up lunch. But from my seat, we appear to be powering through on one more cup of coffee or a handful of grapes,” said Desaulniers. “What remains problematic and disheartening is how this change was sprung on our community with no input from faculty or students,” they added. A faculty member who wishes to remain anonymous also shares this sentiment, having stated “They told us the schedule, and we were given opportunities to comment, but that was it. We weren’t part of the formulation of it.” Amelia Noël-Elkins, SAIC’s Associate Provost for Academic Planning and Curricular Analysis, said in an email “The schedule was developed in the Dean’s Office and further refined by numerous conversations with faculty, staff, and a range of graduate and undergraduate student-elected leaders and groups. Da Zhuang (MFAW 2025) is a staff writer at F Newsmagazine. She loves dogs, the sea, and soft boiled eggs, but hates spiders, cinnamon, and cold rain. Alex Lee (BFA 2027) is probably human. They’re just happy to be here. What’s New On Monday and Wednesday from 3:15 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., there will be “Open Time,” a time when students will presumably have studio access and work time for their homework. Eliminate required courses on Saturdays, though departments can still opt to offer classes. The Reaction As more people enroll in SAIC, the school buildings have become more crowded. According to an email sent to students from the Office of the Provost in 2022, SAIC said that the new schedule is an effective way to make the best use of the space because the new staggered schedule allows for one more academic class and one more full, five-hour studio class to be taught on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Noël-Elkins,Associate mirrored this statement, saying the intent of the schedule change was to add flexibility to the student schedule. “Specifically, the new course schedule is intended to give students a greater range of class options; allow for less overlap in classes; eliminate required courses on Saturdays; and allows campus space to be used more efficiently so there is less congestion in shops, labs, and help-desk spaces and more flexibility in using classrooms outside of class time. Additionally, the hope is that the increase in free time students have in their schedules will have positive effects on their wellbeing,” said Noël-Elkins. Some students agreed that they feel relief about less time spent in class and more time for jobs and socializing. A student (MFA 2025) from the Department of Writing who chose to stay anonymous for privacy reasons said,“ I am happy with my schedule in fall, because almost all my classes start at 12.15 p.m. I have enough time to sleep, prepare for class, and travel to school.” J (BFA 2023) from the Department of Sculpture pointed out that there will be a potential period for student groups to connect and for artists to collaborate at studios. “On Mondays and Wednesdays, I can spend more time working in my studio. It’s nice to invite other artists to stop by and do critic.” According to Noël-Elkins the new schedule may not be in its final form. “We have received limited feedback on the change; however, we’re going through the process of assessing how the schedule change is working in practice. We recently convened focus groups with students and staff and will soon hold focus groups with faculty to better understand their experiences, and we’re looking to see if changes need to be made,” Noël- Elkins said.
  • 10. FNEWSMAGAZINE.COM DECEMBER DECEMBER 10 SAIC ILLUSTRATION BY ALLEN YE (BFA 2023). He wants to reincarnate into a monkey.
  • 11. 2023 F NEWSMAGAZINE SAIC 11 Among students from departments that aren’t automatically considered for studios, it appears that navigating the studio application process proves to be a challenge in itself. “Although it is pretty straightforward, it’s not easy. I’m confused about what is the purpose of us demonstrating what our visual practice is, when we’re not given space to actually practice,” Lobenfield said. For students like Moaksha Vohra (MA AAP 2024), the absence of dedicated studio spaces presents a hindrance to their artistic endeavors. “I work from my apartment,” she said, “and because of that, art-making for me feels like a very isolated process.” Vohra said that a studio could play a pivotal role in her practice. Her frustration with the complexity of the process led her to abandon the pursuit of a studio, echoing Lobenfield’s question about the purpose of demonstrating a visual practice when students are denied adequate space to realize the projects. The ambiguity within the curriculum outline concerning resource allocations further compounds the issue, contradicting the expectations of students within these programs. “I don’t think the studio allocation process was fully disclosed before coming to campus,” said Hannah Jill Johnston, a second year MFAW student. “I don’t understand why we’re paying the same tuition as other departments when we are clearly getting fewer resources.” Lobenfield, referring to an email she received last week, said, “We learned that we have to move out of our studios in January. While for some of my friends from other departments, the studio lease was signed for a year.” She added, “I feel like there is not a lot of easily accessible information, and it’s not easy to get people to talk about these kinds of things. I have a sculpture piece that I’m working on and I could not assemble it in my studio because of the shortage of space.” “It’s frustrating that writers at SAIC seem to get the short end of the stick when it comes to studio allocation. I was assigned with two other writers to share a small studio in Washington. There is simply not enough room. As a writer with a huge artistic practice, it is discouraging to be allotted less space T he School of the Art Institute of Chicago boasts its commitment to interdisciplinary education, fostering an environment where diverse fields intersect to nurture creativity. On its website, the School mentions that it offers interdisciplinary freedom to its students. “Our curriculum centers self-directed study across a multiplicity of disciplines. We think beyond boundaries to make new discoveries,” the website states. While the School claims that SAIC’s curriculum underscores a rich interdisciplinary approach, it notably lacks explicit clarity about studio allocations for students across various programs, which has irked many students. SAIC’s promotional efforts often highlight the MFA programs, showcasing the institution’s commitment to exploring connections between genres. One of the ads promoting the MFAW programs says, “Explore both within and between genres, and creatively connect with visual art practices in the MFA in Writing.” However, for those enrolled in the programs, the truth contradicts these promotional statements; the reality of navigating resources seems to be different than it appears from outside. Claire Lobenfield, a second-year MFA student, described the resource distribution as an “absurd labyrinth,” shedding light on the inequity in studio access among graduate students from different departments. “I noticed during open studios in my first year that where the Viscom students have their space, it is half empty; they don’t work in studios, they work in cubicles, like with computers, and I couldn’t understand why Writing didn’t have the other half of that,” she said. Delinda Collier, the academic dean of Graduate Studies, while speaking to F Newsmagazine said, “It’s important to understand that resources are allocated by the curricular apparatus that supports it. All MFA students automatically get studios, with the exception of MFAW, because it is a Writing program, predominantly. Programs like MFA Writing, MFA Fashion, or MAs are different programs with a particular curriculum.” Khytul Abyad (MFAW 2024) is a part-time visual artist, full time aspiring writer and a secret culinary enthusiast, Khytul is pursuing an MFA in Writing at SAIC. How interdisciplinary SAIC really is REPROT by Khytul Abyad than the painters and sculptors of the school,” said Johnston. Throughout the years, art academics, artists, and revolutionaries have highlighted the importance of a studio space for creative work. Jeff Koons (SAIC 1975–76, HON 2008), a widely recognized artist, said that the studio is a place of transformation. “It’s where the artist takes raw materials and turns them into something beautiful. It’s a place of magic, where anything is possible,” Koons said. The disparity in studio allocation has sparked discussions among students and faculty, bringing to light the challenges in resource distribution and fairness within the institution. Delving into the administrative perspective, Collier acknowledged the division between curricular considerations and resource management. “After all the major MFA studio programs are assigned, we have some leftover studios,” she said. “It is these studios that we consider other requests for. Writing and VCS are on the same Tier — and from there it goes down to fifth semester requests and things like that, or people from other programs. MFAWs are on the second tier of allocation,” she said. The students also highlighted the importance of equity in resource distribution. “The beauty of the Writing department is its interdisciplinary nature. I want that beauty to be upheld, and supported and encouraged,” Johnson said. Lobenfield added, “It would be nice if there was a real effort by the school to include us, to include the 8th floor [Lakeview] as a place where writers can show their work.” Responding to the question about the disparity, Collier said, “I think we should think more creatively about what constitutes a studio practice. It is also important to remember that resources are allocated on the basis of curricular apparatus that supports it.” “What we think we offer is the best curriculum, the best faculty and the best community experiences that are out there,” Collier added. Navigating Studio Allocations at SAIC
  • 12. ‘When We Get the Necklace Back, We Won’t Display It in a Museum’ FNEWSMAGAZINE.COM 12 NEWS DECEMBER E very year during the major Nepali Hindu festival, Dashain members of the Nepal Heritage Recovery Campaign hope that this will be the year that the Taleju necklace is returned to them. “Whenever the festival arrives, we talk about how great it would be if we get the necklace back during this auspicious time,” said Roshan Mishra, a heritage conservationist and member of the campaign. As the Taleju temple opens only on the ninth day of Dashain every year, thousands of people wait in line for hours just to get a glimpse of the statue of the Taleju Goddess, an important patron deity of Kathmandu Valley. But, for Mishra and many other Taleju devotees, another year passed by without seeing the finely crafted necklace filled with semi-precious stones the deity once wore. On display in Gallery 141 (Arts of Asia) at the Art Institute of Chicago, the necklace is a 17th century inscribed gilt-copper artifact first loaned to the museum in 1976 by the Alsdorf Foundation, a Chicago-based art institution. The foundation bought the necklace in the same year from Bruce Miller Antiquities of Sausalito, California. Later, in 2010, the foundation donated the necklace to the museum, which displays the decorated artifact with the inscription, “Victory to Mother Goddess [Bhagavati devi Janani]. Hail! [This is the necklace of the king of kings, lord of kings, lord of poets, the victorious Pratapamalladeva (may he be)].” In the summer of 2021, a Nepali assistant professor at Virginia Tech University, Sweta Banu Bajracharya, posted a picture of the necklace on X (formerly Twitter), which quickly drew attention from around the world — including from Nepali people and officials — as the museum’s wall text stated that the necklace belonged to the Taleju Goddess. While the necklace had attracted some attention for its artistry, it wasn’t until 2021 that calls for its repatriation began to surface. Since then, several efforts have been made by activists and government officials toward the recovery of this necklace. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY SHINA KANG (BFA 2027). She cannot stop eating apples. PHOTO BY Nitya Mehrotra (MAFVNMA 2025). She is the Multimedia editor of F Newsmagazine. She is a documentary filmmaker and animator from Delhi, India. How a sacred necklace of Nepal’s Hindu goddess reached AIC REPORT by Ankit Khadgi
  • 13. Nepali people want the necklace in rightful place It’s been 47 years since the necklace left Nepal. Before Bajracharya’s tweet, there was no reported uproar among the Nepali community nor known efforts made for its return. But now that they know its location and its connection to the temple and the goddess, the Nepali people say they want the necklace back. They say that its rightful place is in the temple of the Taleju Goddess. “The Museum should return the necklace. People should understand that we can’t treat it like a necklace that belongs to a human being. It’s a necklace that belongs to a goddess. It’s not just an accessory. But a part of the goddess itself,” said Aashish Mishra. The admin of Lost Arts Nepal, a Facebook page dedicated to identifying lost artifacts of Nepal, also wrote that AIC should return the necklace as soon as possible. “In general, Nepali society and culture revolves around faith and traditions. The deities are the Guardians and our belief in faith keeps us secured, calm and happy. The absence of the deities of worship creates voids in our faith, many practices and traditions are also lost with it,” an admin of the page, who prefers to stay anonymous, said. But if and when AIC will return the artifact is a big question. According to a spokesperson from the museum, AIC is trying its best to address the concerns people have regarding the necklace and its repatriation. “Repatriation discussions are exceptionally complex and can take significant time, but every effort is made to resolve these matters,” they wrote to F Newsmagazine. “The Art Institute of Chicago has been in contact with the government of Nepal. We sent a letter in May 2022 and are awaiting a response. We are open to learning about any additional information the government has to share on this matter and will continue working directly with the government of Nepal.’ the statement further reads. A spokesperson for Nepal’s Department of Archaeology told the ProPublica and Crain’s Chicago’s Business officials are still looking for the evidence they were asked to provide but maintain that the inscription on the necklace is “irrefutable” proof that the necklace belongs to the country. Nepali heritage activists who spoke with F Newsmagazine accept that repatriation can be a lengthy process. “However, the museum needs to be transparent and communicate the process of repatriation to everyone,” said Mishra. As conversations about the repatriation of artworks to their countries of origin and communities have flourished recently, several other art institutes and museums in the country are becoming more transparent about their provenance. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston allows visitors to search its provenance online. And the San Antonio Museum of Art and the Denver Museum of Art allows users to search for repatriated objects. The AIC, by comparison, does not have a section on its website dedicated to repatriated objects, nor does it mention whether an artifact on display has been claimed by other community members and countries. In fact, in 2022, according to ProPublica’s article, it didn’t repatriate any objects, even though several countries have made and continue to make claims of ownership of objects in the AIC possession. AIC’s failure to release a statement explaining the status of the repatriation, even after the ProPublica and Crain’s Chicago Business article, The history Before Nepal was formed, the country was divided into several princely states. In the Kathmandu Valley, the Malla kings were the rulers. The Malla kings had a keen interest in art, culture, and architecture. Several heritage monuments that they built are still intact and attract the attention of millions of tourists in Kathmandu. Pratap Malla, who ruled from 1641 to 1674, was one of the most popular kings. Art historians and cultural experts who spoke to F Newsmagazine said the necklace belonged to the Mallas of Nepal. Cultural writer and journalist Aashish Mishra described Pratap Malla as “a king who was also an art connoisseur.” “He was a lover of arts,” said Mishra. “He was the one who offered this necklace to his kul devata (guardian deity). And after that, it became a part of Taleju goddess and its rituals of worship,” Mishra said. In 2022, Udhav Karmarcharya, the main priest of Taleju Temple, found a hand-written scroll from his family collection that mentioned the necklace as one of the gifts that was offered to the goddess. “The scroll was written in Nepalbhasa [a language spoken by the indigenous Newa people, said Karmarcharya. “It clearly states that the necklace was offered by Pratap Malla. The description about the necklace in the scroll matches with the artifact that is currently displayed at AIC.” On its website, AIC offers the following description of the necklace: “This ornament may have been given by King Pratapamalla (r. 1641–74), ruler of the Malla dynasty of Nepal, to Taleju Bhavani, the revered patron goddess of the old palace in Kathmandu and the chief protective deity of Nepal and its royal family. King Pratapamalla may also have worn this collar when he participated in rituals.” Worshipping Taleju and performing various rituals to strengthen the state’s relationship with the goddess has a long tradition in Nepal. Several Nepali Hindu deities considered Taleju to be one of the manifestations of Durga Bhavani, a major goddess often associated with bravery, protection, strength, and war. According to Erin Thompson, an art historian and professor at the City University of New York, kings and rulers often made offerings to Taleju to strengthen their relationship with Durga. “Durga is a goddess that fights against death, disorder and chaos. And so you offer worship to her to ask for her help and protection for you, or your family, and as the titular deity, for Nepal as a whole. That’s what the king gave a necklace for as reinforcing this relationship of protection of Nepal,” said Thompson. So how did a necklace that belonged to such an important deity end up at AIC in Chicago? According to The Nepali Times, a Kathmandu- based publication, the necklace was moved from the temple to a nearby museum for safekeeping in the1970s. In 1976, the necklace disappeared. “The government wanted to move the treasures for safe-keeping, but it got stolen anyway. The high priests at the time had warned officials that this would anger the powerful Taleju god. Sure enough, within a year, King Mahendra died,” Karmacharya, the eighth generation high priest of the Taleju Temple from the family, told the Nepali Times. Nepal’s monarchy was abolished in 2008. No one knew the whereabouts of the necklace or who was responsible for its disappearance until an in-depth article on the necklace by ProPublica and Crain’s Chicago Business — published in March — asserted that the necklace was definitely stolen from Nepal. According to AIC’s provenance, The Alsdorf Foundation purchased it on June 22 from Bruce Miller Antiquities of Sausalito, California, within a year of its theft. NEWS 13 2023 F NEWSMAGAZINE Ankit Khadgi (MFVCS 2024) is the Managing Editor of F Newsmagazine. He just wants to sleep. has raised flags among Nepali heritage activists, who are concerned about how long Nepal will have to wait to get the necklace back. “We know that repatriation takes time. But if private collectors have returned artifacts to Nepal why can’t AIC do it,” said Mishra. “AIC has remained silent on this matter. They need to cooperate and regularly provide updates on repatriation of the necklace.” The museum needs to realize there’s a reason why so many people are demanding this particular necklace back. It’s because the necklace belongs to Taleju, our titular goddess. It’s our living culture,” said Mishra. “I don’t know what more proof the museum is waiting for when the inscription on the necklace itself verifies that it belongs to Nepal.” One of the reasons Thompson believes the Museum hasn’t returned the necklace is because if it does, it will have to return several other artifacts that other communities also claim. The investigation by ProPublica and Crain’s Chicago Business found that four artifacts, including the necklace, given to the museum by the Alsdorf family, were looted from Nepal or illegally exported. In addition the investigation found that 24 objects from the Art Institute’s Alsdorf collection have incomplete provenances by modern standards. Thompson said that if the museum returns the necklace, AIC will have to look at all the other “donations” made by the Alsdorf family, which would present them with more challenges. “They know that if they return this necklace, they’re going to have to also return a whole lot of other artifacts to Nepal and to other Asian countries,” said Thompson. “I’m saying this because this donation of the necklace was made by James and Marilynn. If you give that back, then you have to look into all the other donations they have made, which have been I think hundreds of objects to the Art Institute. So they are worried about a large set of their objects. It’s not just the necklace, it’s my theory,” she said. It’s not yet clear when the necklace will be returned. Kept in a protective glass case, the necklace is more than 7,000 miles from the temple. Karmacharya believed that the Nepali government should use all diplomatic means to get the necklace back. “We have all the evidence. We are thankful that the museum protected the necklace for so many years. But the Nepal government should quickly solve the problem and use all the diplomatic tactics to get it back,” Karmacharya said. Mishra said he hopes the museum will also soon realize what the necklace means to the people of Nepal and return it to the country voluntarily. “Nepal was going through political upheavals due to which we didn’t have the luxury to think about our heritage before. But now we are more stable and we want heritages back. Our objects were never made so they could be kept inside museums. They are like living objects made to exist in open spaces and live with people,” said Mishra. “When we get the necklace back, we won’t display it in a museum. We will offer it to the goddess and will keep it there. Because it is there where it rightfully belongs,” he added.
  • 14. FNEWSMAGAZINE.COM DECEMBER DECEMBER 14 NEWS ILLUSTRATION BY ALLEN YE (BFA 2023). He wants to reincarnate into a monkey. An Audition forSympathy Stories from the bus on the way to the largest Pro-Palestinian protest in U.S. history Report by Marium Asif I t was dark, and most of the passengers were asleep. It wasn’t a comfortable place to rest, but they had to, because tomorrow, Nov. 4, would be a big day for everyone. “Tomorrow we will be auditioning for sympathy,” said Noura Hossini, a Palestinian-American riding the bus to Washington, D.C. Hossini, like the rest of the passengers, was gearing up to take part in what would be the largest pro-Palestine protests this county has ever seen. At the beginning of the ride the driver turned off the lights leaving most of the bus in darkness, so when Hossini spoke, only part of her face was illuminated by the fluorescent book light above her. Hossini moved to the U.S. for college in 2011. Displacement, for her, had been a constant. Born in the U.S. to Palestinian parents, Hossini’s family lived in Jerusalem when she was a child, and shifted to Ramallah in the West Bank when she was in high school. The two places, only 30 minutes away from each other, were separated by the ]checkpoint, manned by the Israeli military. “It makes it very, very challenging to move between cities. So even though I grew up in Jerusalem, I probably went there maybe less than a handful of times since I moved, because you need a permit to go from the West Bank to the Israeli occupied territories,” she said. Hossini spoke of her past as an orator, who was incredibly rehearsed, striking emphasis on the right points and pauses for maximum effect. Hossini’s parents currently live in Ramallah (in the West Bank), her maternal family lives in Nablus (also in the West Bank), and her paternal family lives in Jerusalem. Their displacement from Jerusalem to Ramallah was something forced upon them through laws mandated by the occupation of Jerusalem. “My dad moved to the U.S. for school, and wasn’t able to renew his blue ID, which is the Israeli ID. And when he tried to do so, it took him 15 years, and he still wasn’t able to get it in the courts. And then that’s why we had to move from Jerusalem to the West Bank,” Hossini said. Back in Jerusalem, Hossini’s family celebrated Friday dinner together. Her family hosted 30 people every week on Fridays, and she described it as her community and culture. It’s one of the things she misses most about home. She lamented about the yearn for community, and how it contradicted her introvertedness. “I’m in America, and I don’t have to be worried about what I say on the phone unlike my mom, but I miss my home and my family, and I’m going to D.C. because for all the freedom of movement in America, I miss my home and family,” Hossini said. For Hossini, the protest in D.C. would be the biggest stage for something she’d been doing her whole life. And this time, she was doing it with two of her brothers who were making the trip with her. “While Palestinians are being murdered and slaughtered, I have to keep telling people like, ‘No, we’re not monsters. We’re not anti-Semitic.’ There’s a genocide happening, and I have to keep telling people this, despite having already said it many, many times,” Hossini said. The Palestinian struggle is layers upon layers of torment, according to Hossini. Those who have been able to stay in their land live under systemic oppression and have grown used to people dying in tens everyday. The ones who live abroad are constantly attempting to humanize themselves. “Why do I have to do this dance for you to care about the Palestinian cause? Every single Palestinian has to always tiptoe and audition for people’s sympathy, and I’m so tired of that,” Hossini said. For Hossini, the protest in D.C. was reminiscent of the 1963 March on Washington, where Martin Luther King, Jr. made his “I Have A Dream” speech. “I feel like that’s what drove me to want to be there to be with everyone under one sky, to make waves and make people listen coming from all parts of the US. Standing there, screaming the same thing, I want to feel united for one cause,” said Hossini Palestinians don’t fear death “Why am I going to D.C.? I’m going to DC to fight for my home I’ve never seen. And I’m 44 years old,” said Faten Alyen. Faten Alyan and Fatima Alyan, two sisters sitting together on the thirteenth row in the bus, had woken up at 5 a.m. when the bus made a pit stop outside Maryland, and it was hard for them to drift off to sleep again as the journey continued, knowing that they’d be in D.C. in fewer than three hours. Faten Alyan and Fatima Alyan insisted on the camera keeping both of them in the same frame instead of breaking the interviews up. Palestinian stories, they said, were similar enough across families that they started to lose impact. It was better if their story was told together. The story of their family followed the same narrative as that of many other Palestinian refugees. Their grandparents were among the first to face dispossession in the Nakba of 1948, and now they were the third generation refugees-turned-immigrants. Photo by Marium Asif
  • 15. 2023 F NEWSMAGAZINE NEWS 15 Marium Asif (MFA 2025) is a first-year graduate student from Karachi. She explores dystopian elements/events, mythology, folklore and magical realism themes both in her creative fiction, and non- fiction personal essays. Imperialism breaking up homelands was not a foreign concept to me either. Though it was hard for me to say this to them knowing that my struggle was that of my grandparents and theirs was ongoing. “Ironically enough, I took the same journey over two decades ago. And I had two young kids at the time, and I remember getting on the bus with my husband, a small group of people, and taking this same overnight journey to DC in March. Here I am, like, two decades later,” said Faten Alyan. For 25 years, Faten Alyan has been marching in the streets calling for the liberation of Palestine. According to Faten Alyan, it’s different this time around. She’s compared the numbers, the people in the audience advocating for Palestine, and the knowledge people have in 2023 with each other. She said she thought D.C. was a possible turning point for the Palestinian struggle. Even so, Faten Alyan was unsure about going to D.C. for the Nov. 4 March. She said it was because of security reasons — not the police or danger of arrests — because just the weekend before, her daughter and her had almost been assaulted at a march in Chicago. “It took me a long time to decide to go to D.C. It was more because of safety concerns — the shooter at the Chicago rally really scared me. But, I made the decision to go on Wednesday. There are some things you just can’t stay silent about. It makes you complicit,” said Faten Alyan. (On Oct.28, a man fired a gun short in Skokie during a pro-Palestinian protest; another man attacked the demonstrator with pepper-spray). I nodded along. She had encapsulated the fears and justifications every international student I had spoken to had shared with me. Fatima, Faten’s sister who had been silent for most of this conversation, spoke up now to disagree with her sister. “Death wasn’t a fear for me. I don’t fear death. I’m a Palestinian. We’re the voice for the voiceless and if I die marching, then I die marching,” said Fatima Alyan. For Faten Alyan, going to protests has never been a thing to debate. For her, going to D.C. was another step to end American hypocrisy. She was tired of being portrayed as a benefactor of America’s goodwill. “They talk about taking us in, but they neglect the simple fact that our ancestors didn’t migrate here willingly. They were happily living in their country, in their homeland, in their villages. And then foreign nations came in and destroyed their country. And then the same nations and countries that destroyed their country tried to put on like the Superman cape. We don’t need your goodwill, you’re the reason our people are dying,” said Faten Alyan. Faten Alyan said the expected turnout in D.C. was hope for her that the time to go home was near. “We will all willingly go back to our country, but you need to give Israel half your country, just like you [white people ]decided to give Israel our country and take your blood money with you. We won’t even pack our bags. We will pick ourselves up and leave,” said Faten Alyan. From Little Palestine to Palestine M, a Palestinian, is from what used to be called Little Palestine in Chicago. (F Newsmagazine is using only her first initial to protect her privacy.) “Before Little Palestine, I lived in Nablus in the West Bank. Before that, my family lived in the Jenin refugee camp. I don’t know what to say when people ask me where I’m from. No, I’m not from Chicago, I’m from Palestine,” said M. M laughed when she talked about how the neighborhood in Chicago, Near 87th Street and Harlem Avenue was renamed and the name Little Palestine was removed. She compared it to the erasure Palestinians have seen their entire lives. “Half my memory of Palestine is sitting in a car going from Nablus to Jerusalem, spending hours in the car because the colonizing military won’t even let us visit our own homes,” she said. “I’m a foreigner on a student visa in America and I don’t need to show any ID when I’m going from one state to the other but they want me to shut up when I can’t even go home? Fuck, No.” M said she was going to D.C. because she doesn’t have a lot of time. She’s an international student and she only has a few years before she has to leave the U.S. and she intends to do as much as she can. “Deportation? Why would I be scared of that? No, I want to go home. I don’t want to stay here. Go ahead, send me home, but until I’m here, my body is going to be in every place Palestine needs it to be. Palestinians get used to fear.” For M, going to D.C. was as necessary as telling her story. “I march to keep Gaza’s name alive. Israel is a failed colonial project and the U.S. will do anything to prevent it from collapsing. I have a connection to this land, if Palestine dies, I die and I cannot see it go,” M said. “I’m seeing people get desensitized to Palestinian deaths. They can’t do that. Only Palestinians can because they have to. Palestinians die a lot, like, oh, two people died in Nablus yesterday. Sure. And you move on. You get used to arrests a lot. Oh, he was in prison for 15 years, and he just. But if you don’t live there, and you know you’re not next to die, then you don’t get to be desensitized,” M said. Photo by Marium Asif
  • 16. Fall Undergraduate Exhibition 2023 DESIGN BY SHINA KANG (BFA 2027). She cannot stop eating apples. 110 artists, 110 stories REVIEW by Da Zhuang FNEWSMAGAZINE.COM 16 ARTS DECEMBER T he Fall Undergraduate Exhibition at SAIC Galleries from Nov. 3 to Nov. 17 showcased the culminating work of more than 110 graduating seniors. This exhibition featured the ambitious and innovative interdisciplinary work of SAIC students. It is a living example of the crossing of disciplines and challenging assumptions that SAIC encourages in each student. Family, friends, and visitors of all kinds attend this admission-free exhibition. Here are 12 pieces on display at this year’s show. 02 02 04 04 01 01 03 03 J Jiang, “Man” and “Wounded” (2023) “Man” stands at the entrance, a cane resembling a bowing figure, inviting people into the space. Oxtail bones are in the position of the human spine, and the capsules stand on the surface of what would be the top of a head. “Wounded” is a Band-Aid-shaped object made of a bedding set. Its enlarged scale emphasizes the exclamation mark-shaped scar in the center. It is in conversation with semiotics: its material speaks from the bedroom which contains the body, and hanging nails contextualize the work in a public space. Thomas McIntyre, “Breezway Jamboree” (2023) “Breezway Jamboree” is situated in an isolated gallery room and examines a space of causal interaction with home by using precious and utilitarian objects. The pieces of furniture, which resemble characters, seem to conduct unceremonious exchanges. These pieces mimic human and animalistic qualities, calling into question the value typically ascribed to everyday domestic objects. photo credit to Emma Lacy Ruihong Liu, “The boudoir of recollection” (2023) “The boudoir of recollection” is characterized by soft and intimate qualities that explore the fragility and significance of memories, offering a space for contemplation and connection, while safeguarding precious memories. The artist perceives this piece as an inner sanctuary and a reflection of her soul. The circular coiffure seam serves as a covert gateway to reveal the iridescent pearl nested within its pristine shell. Olivia Jobbe, “I Am Not A Baker (Made With Love)” (2023) “I Am Not A Baker (Made With Love)” is an autobiographical body of works that uses humor, a personal multiplicity of femininities, and radical vulnerability bred through compulsive truth-telling to reflect the artist’s views of the multiplicities of womanhood: embracing, rejecting, and satirizing preconceived notions of femininity. It is done with an emphasis on fine craftsmanship, the use of masculine materials, and modes of making that are based on sculptures of the early avant-garde rejection of the narrow view of female capability and false guise of evolved thinking.
  • 17. Da Zhuang (MFAW 2025) is a staff writer at F Newsmagazine. She loves dogs, the sea, and soft boiled eggs, but hates spiders, cinnamon, and cold rain. ARTS 17 2023 F NEWSMAGAZINE 07 07 10 10 12 12 08 08 05 05 06 06 09 09 11 11 Ash Nañoz, “Hold The Girl” (2023) “Hold The Girl” invites viewers to contemplate their perception of safety and the naiveté encountered when their loved ones entered their space. The artist finds self-defense in what their eyes and ears can perceive and is investigating their identity as a first-generation Filipino-American. The plushies in the middle are from the collection of keychains from Ash’s father and serve as a visual sign of familiarity and comfort. Isabela Ortega, “give the pointless a decent resting place” (2023) “Give the pointless a decent resting place” is a piece for the first-generation forced to leave their countries and only feel safe in the crevices of the societies of the countries where they move. Here the domestic space has become a dichotomized chamber of comfort and fallacy. Born in Albuquerque, NM, Isabela’s family and Chicana identity have inspired her understanding of the borderlands. The artifice of a dwelling so far removed from where one truly feels is “home” channels deep grievance while also introducing agency. Lia Syona Schnacke, “Comfort in Chaos” (2023) “Comfort in Chaos” is a piece that embodies fun elements from childhood to the present, including toys and gifts from the artist’s friends and family. The work explores the individual experience each person with ADHD has when interacting with visuals and sounds. The artist embraces the fun of comfort that can be found in chaos. Yaqi Zhou, “Threads of Time” (2023) “Threads of Time” is a drawing that reveals the history of tea vessels and stories of the past. Bronze, porcelain, ornate, and Yixing clay objects are depicted. The intricate details of history are revealed through the unwavering dedication of people, following the journey of time. Meng-Chu Huang, “TAIPLE” (2023) “TAIPLE”, derived from TAIWAN’s temple, is a project committed to bridging tradition and modernity, connecting people with Taiwan’s spiritual heart, a time- honored temple culture. Its goal is to enhance visitors’ experiences by simplifying access to desired temple destinations with visually captivating illustrations. Katherine Fabiola Tenorio-Ramos, “Soup with Cheese” (2023) “Soup with Cheese” is a how-to short story that uses beloved family recipes to explore college students’ homesickness. The display functions as a frame to offer an in-depth and authentic experience for the audience while also highlighting the artist’s book. Ji Youn Park, “The Fragments” and “Time Tower” (2023) “The Fragments” and “Time Tower” present a visual timeline of the artist’s growth and evolution. They encapsulate the essence of her personal memories and delve into a realm of symbolism and nostalgia. The composition features three distinct objects: a LEGO piece (representing the playful echoes of childhood), a pineapple (emblematic of the vibrant experiences of adolescence), and flowers (capturing the blooming moments of the twenties). It invites viewers to contemplate their own memories and connections to these symbols. Michael Powers, “The ‘Stay-A-While’ Reading Nook” (2023) “The ‘Stay-A-While’ Reading Nook” is a homey and interactive installation designed for reading comics. With warm color, consistent subject, and repeated motifs the space incorporates ceramics, prints, drawings, paintings, sewn, and tufted artworks to bring comics to life in different mediums.
  • 18. FNEWSMAGAZINE.COM DECEMBER 18 ARTS safelight in photographic dark rooms, or nightclubs, rather than that of lived-in houses. Both of these artificial lights attempt to keep the glare of the outside world at bay if it does enter. The opposite is seen in “Coat Hanger” (1980) a rare photograph where light from the outside recklessly penetrates domestic space. By the sunny window, so bright that the details of the landscape have faded, two bodies connected to a clothes hanger — or it is stuck between their buttcheeks — lean their weight on the door edge, as if wanting to rush out. The glass door blocking its way tells the subjects to be inside, be safe. Bodies are the safe haven for their identity; when that function is lost, they become inanimate shells. This desolation presents views that are half-dreamy, half-real, artificial, and fluttering. Despite the scenes’ brilliance, the shells are only a temporal disguise as identities continue to struggle. This too, for DeSana, shall pass. Jimmy DeSana: Suburban was on display at Document (1709 West Chicago AveChicago) from Sept. 9 toOctober 28. The exhibition was organized by Document and P.P.O.W. DESIGN BY ALLEN YE (BFA 2023). He wants to reincarnate into a monkey. body buries its head in a kitchen sink, becoming a shambles in contrast to the tidy view in “Sink” (1979). The clock next to the figure seems a reminder of the transience of this existence. Both images depict an odd scene wherein these bodies are compelled to clean themselves, albeit in a torturous way. The cheerful, monstrous shadow dancing on the corner of the wall in “Extension Cord” (1979) satirically reflects the cramped body standing on a cord while balancing a chair, whose legs reach up to the ceiling. The body seeks to extend beyond the frame but is unable to, so it becomes a tangled extension of household items, with the shadow joyful but the figure trapped. This living struggle is further revealed in “Cardboard” (1985) where a body tries to fit into six pieces of cardboard. The body and its cardboard shell buckle, and the figure must feel a lack of comfort as they press their head into the dead corner. A hermit crab might also feel the same discomfort. Likewise, the body in “Four Legs with Shoes” (1980) is like a tortoise who is yelping “Help!” The monochromatic lighting is reminiscent of “Suburban,” the first Chicago solo exhibition of the counterculture photographer Jimmy DeSana — who lived in New York’s East Village in the 1970s — exhibiting 12 surreal photographs (completed between 1979 and 1985) . The hues of “Suburban” are far too wild to sit in family-photo frames on household walls. Punk-pink, spellbound green, and zealous red dye light the domestic interior with a downtown New York aura. This visual context exposes bodies’ queerness as if they were free to express their joy and beauty. In the early 1980s, queer bodies became the target of bigoted fear in the public and in the media regarding the HIV/AIDS epidemic. DeSana died an untimely death from complications of AIDS. People were unable to express their identities, and so they retreated into shells. DeSana, who was active in the queer mail art network on AIDS-related issues, preserves these bodies through a breathtaking lens by turning them into sculptures, or inanimate household items. In “Soap Suds” (1980) a body floats lighter and spills faster than any other suds coming out of the toilet. The red color throughout evokes a feeling of nausea at the smell of toilet cleaner encountering soap. Another Photographer Jimmy DeSana stages queer bodies in relation to inanimate housewares Review by Thuy-Tien Vo Thuy-Tien Vo (MA VCS 2024) is a Vietnamese performance artist, curator and poet whose work often creates discomfort within U.S. institutions. Bodies, Bodies, Bodies Jimmy DeSana, “Extension Cord” (1979) (all images courtesy of the Jimmy DeSana Trust, Document and P.P.O.W.) Jimmy DeSana, “Soap Suds” (1980) Jimmy DeSana, “Four Legs with Shoes” (1980)
  • 19. 2023 F NEWSMAGAZINE LIT 19 I’ll share it with you. Mind you, it’s not pretty. And that’s okay. That’s what real sex is like. So, here is Sisel’s Sexual History rewritten four times: M elisa Febos is a superstar in the literary world. Her book “Body Work” — part memoir, part craft textbook — was chosen as an NPR Best Book of the Year. It’s the textbook used by Profesor Kathie Bergquist in the class “Queering the Personal Essay,” where students get to read and write about marginalization from a personal nonfiction perspective. Febos’ second chapter is titled “Mind Fuck.” It tackles the complicated subject of writing about sex. Her argument is that sex is typically depicted in literature from the perspective of a dominant narrative. Society has constructed a story of what sex is supposed to look and feel like, but that narrative is based on the dominant construct of male desire. What does society think men want in sex? This is different from what people genuinely want from their sexual experiences and partners, but the blueprint is already an insidious parasite in our collective psyche. The way to break the cycle of reading and writing the same generic sex scenes is personal awakening. To be aware of the dominant narrative is to be able to oppose it or to write into it intentionally. Example: Are we writing exclusively about heterosexual sex? If we’re writing about queer sex, under what framework are we doing so? What stereotypes are we evoking? Questions like these can transform us into heightened versions of our writerly selves. Through interrogation of the paradigm, we awaken into writers who are in conscious control of how we challenge the dominant sexual narratives or adhere to them. Febos suggests that we know we are in control of our writing when we can justify every sentence, word, and punctuation choice of our sex scenes. Although, it’s enough to be in control if we, as writers, can pinpoint the motivations, desires, and obstacles characters face in their sex scenes … as if we were discussing any other well-written platonic scene. The thing that resonated the most with me about “Mind Fuck” is Febos’ idea that sex, and writing about sex, is performative. The sex we have is directly influenced by collective beliefs of what our bodies should be like, and how we should sexually perform. Despite our attempts to be as authentic as possible with sex, the bedroom can become a performance space. So can our writing. We might want to say and do things because that’s what we think others want from us, consciously or unconsciously. My vow to you, dear “Slut Saga” reader, is to be in control of my narrative about sex — to be aware of the performance, to write with authenticity. Febos proposes a writing exercise: Wwrite your sexual history in five sentences. Once that’s done, do it again but without repeating any of the previous sentences. These new five sentences can be as specific or as broad as you want. You can write about a defining moment, what you like in bed, or an overview of your partners. When you’ve finished (pun not intended), do it again. Write five more sentences. Do it again. Then, do it again until you can’t come up with anything new. This exercise is meant to rethink the stories we tell about sex. It’s the awakening we spoke of: Wwhat do we, as writers, focus on when describing sex? Where do we, as people, go to in our minds when the topic is brought up? My performance as a sex columnist is that I have no shame. But the truth is I found myself shy when, in class, we were asked to do Febos’ exercise and then read our responses out loud. I choked. I let out a little whimper. I inhaled a shallow breath. I felt vulnerable. My resistance to sharing surprised me. This was the first time I wrote about my sex life in a way that was personal, and honest, and heartbreaking, and authentic. It felt raw to break the performance I had built for myself. I had sex for the first time at the age of 22. E and I had sex at least twice a day, every day, during the two years we were together. I loved having sex with him, although sometimes I don’t like having sex. My antidepressants make it really hard to cum. We broke up, but I want to go back to having sex with E. When I had sex for the first time, I dissociated five times. I dated a boy named M for two years, and not once did we have sex. A month after being with E, I knew I was ready to have sex with him. I told my mom I lost my virginity the same day it happened. My sexual record with E was 16 times in a span of three days. When E’s stepdad asked why we were still asleep at noon, E’s mom responded with, “they’re young and in love, not a lot of sleeping is happening.” Number 16 happened while we were waiting for my Uber to arrive … the condom broke. My specialty in sex is giving head. Both E and M said I’m the best they’ve ever had. Other than that, I am a pillow princess. I like being dominated, made submissive. I love the topic of sex so much, I was afraid I was becoming a sex addict at the age of 12. Funny enough, I came out as asexual at the age of 16. Sisel Gelman (MFAW 2025) was raised in Mexico City. Her work has been published over 37 times. #siselgelman has 3.1 million views on TikTok. ILLUSTRATION BY BEI LIN (BFA 2023). He is trying his hardest not to be replaced by AI. F the dominant narrative ESSAY by Sisel Gelman How to Write a Sex Scene SLUT SAGA
  • 20. FNEWSMAGAZINE.COM DECEMBER 20 LIT DECEMBER W hen the theme song plays, and it slaps every time, I can’t help but get up and dance. I sing it loudly (I live alone). “First thing we’d climb a tree, and maybe then we’d talk,” I sing. “You are ahead by a century, you are ahead by a century!” I belt. I scream at the TV, like someone might watch football. “She wants puffed sleeves, Matthew! Mention the puffed sleeves!” “The broach is between the couch cushions Marilla, what are you doing!” This is the “Anne with an E” experience, the three-season television adaptation by Netflix of the classic YA novel and novel series, “Anne of Green Gables,” by Canadian author L. M. Montgomery. ILLUSTRATION BY ADITI SINGH (BFA 2026). She’s a graphic designer and digital illustrator originally from India, raised in Dubai, and recently moved to Chicago. Really just a story about people who hate an orphan ESSAY by Katie MacLauchlan Anne with an Oh, Snap!
  • 21. 2023 F NEWSMAGAZINE LIT 21 Orphanage. Flashbacks. Again, hardcore. Luckily, Anne has one true friend — Diana Barry (Dalila Bela) — a kindred spirit, as Anne might say. Although things do become a bit easier for Anne when she befriends another classmate, Ruby Gillis (Kyla Matthews). The lengths to which Anne will go to convince the intolerant people of Avonlea to accept her are wild. She wins over Ruby by literally rescuing her house from a fire. I’m telling you, it’s action-packed. Avonlea watching, Anne dashes into Ruby’s burning home. “Anne!” screams Diana. Anne runs from room to room closing windows so that the lack of oxygen will suffocate the fire. Everyone from town is outside watching or assisting, including Anne’s primary love interest, Gilbert Blythe (Lucas Jade Zumann). Anne walks out, soot covering her face. She’s a hero. The power of books. Ruby must stay with the Cuthberts while her family rebuilds their home, but she is distressed that people might think she is Anne’s friend if she is truly to stay at Green Gables. Despite the hiccups, the girls end the staycation as friends, and when Anne returns to school shortly after Ruby leaves (she’s been skipping on the downlow until Diana and Ruby bring her books to Green Gables, blowing up her spot by accident) she has two friends. In another display of intolerance, this time from a grown-up, Mrs. Lynde — Marilla Cuthbert’s gossipy friend and Green Gables’ neighbor — visits to take a look at Anne and absolutely snatches her wig. “Well they didn’t pick you for your looks, that’s sure and certain!” Mrs. Lynde exclaims. She continues, “And hair as red as carrots, dear, dear me.” Oh, snap! “I hate you,” Anne spits, “How would you like to be told that you’re fat and clumsy and that you probably haven’t a spark of imagination in you. And I don’t care if I hurt your feelings by saying so. I hope I hurt them. Because you have hurt my feelings worse than they have ever been hurt before and I will never forgive you for this, never, never!” Whoa. Anne runs vaguely into the fields. There is a lot of breathless running from Anne in “Anne with an E,” but I’m honestly super into it, and the cinematography is good. Don’t lose that hat in the wind, girl. She takes deep breaths on the cliff, tears flowing, and one of her long red braids comes undone in the breeze. Despite its charmingly melodramatic moments, “Anne with an E” is quite a moving show about acceptance. One thing I appreciate about “Anne with an E” is the television series’ extension of the novel series’ author’s original intentions. “Anne with an E” expands themes of acceptance in “Anne of Green Gables” to appeal to modern audiences. Many people reread and rewatch classics around the winter holidays. They’re cozy and wholesome and often reiterate family values. Several have Christmas scenes or otherwise. Well-known and beloved characters ignite the nostalgia within us. These stories can feel as warm as a pair of mittens or a cup of hot tea. Sure, “Anne with an E” is loosely-based on the much more tepid novel set in the late 19th century and published in the early 20th century, but Netflix’s adaptation is Hard. Core. This is the modern remake of a beloved classic you should binge over your holiday break, however you celebrate. “Anne with an E” is an especially good choice for viewers who want to celebrate found family and family-making this holiday season, or for viewers whose families might not represent a traditional structure. Maybe it’s the bookish, embarrassing girl in me, but oh how I love to watch that clever redhead and her friends run into burning buildings, deliver babies, hop trains, ect. Read enough books and you, too, may have the exact piece of knowledge you need in an unprecedented emergency. Honestly, “Anne with an E” is basically just the story of a bunch of people who hate an orphan. Avonlea, the series’ fictional village located on Canadian Prince Edward Island, where Anne moves after she is adopted by the Cuthberts, places value on breeding, manners, and education. Anne doesn’t fit the bill. She’s an ugly, skinny, red- haired orphan girl adopted by accident. I mean, even her adoptive parents, the elderly Cuthbert siblings who own Green Gables farm, don’t want her at first — it was a mistake. They needed a boy to help Matthew Cuthbert farm. They’re going to have to return her. Savage. Of course, Anne wins them over in the end. Avonlea takes a little bit longer. Anne is so cringe. Finally she finds acceptance. At school, Anne Shirley-Cuthbert (Amybeth McNulty) is not popular. On her first day, she decorates her hat with wildflowers, and although I thought it was kind of a look, none of the other girls did. Billy Andrews (Christian Martyn) barks at her, muff muff, orphan dog. Anne is doing the most when she is called upon to read aloud during class, but she can hardly contain her bookish enthusiasm! I mean, same girl. She’s not a bad actor, either. She just goes for it with her literary recitations. In Anne’s defense, she’s this excited for school because she hasn’t attended before; she’s an autodidact — which we learn through Vivid. Katie MacLauchlan (MFAW 2025) loves when a bag of tea comes with a little quote. I love uber-modernized film and television adaptations of period pieces, but they receive a lot of flack from literary fandoms. I’m thinking of the poor reception of Netflix’s “Persuasion” in some Austen fan spaces, but let me play devil’s advocate to the lit girls out there who don’t want adaptations of their favorite books to stray from dated source material. I’m sure Anne would agree with me. “Anne of Green Gables” was written in the early 20th century when queer themes had to be tucked away in literature, but some folks still read “Anne of Green Gables” as containing hidden LGBTQ+ themes. There is long-established scholarly research on the topic. In a modern context, why not explore these themes more obviously? Across the internet, there are Anne and Diana ships. One Reddit user describes Anne as “maybe just Diana-sexual.” While fanfiction content like this is common, there is evidence of an intent by the author to code characters as queer in the original “Anne of Green Gables.” Certainly so, in Netflix’s “Anne with an E,” which adds openly queer characters to its cast and even coming out moments. Whether you think it’s fanfiction or canon, there are lots of fun moments for the Danne ships in “Anne with an E.” Mrs. Barry bans their friendship — Anne begs Diana never to forget her! “I’ll never have another bosom friend,” Diana says (see: sobs), “I don’t want to. I could never love anyone as I love you, Anne. Thou.” “Wait, do you love me?” “Of course I do. Why don’t you know that?” “I thought you liked me of course, but I never hoped you loved me.” “I love you devotedly, Anne.” “And I will always love thee, Diana,” Anne says as they trade locks of hair in a really straight way. Regardless of your take on the whole Gilbert vs. Diana shipping conundrum (although the argument could be made for bisexuality or that queer desire is displaced in the form of forbidden love onto a new object — Gilbert — since everyone knows Ruby has liked Gilbert for years, Anne), kinship structures are tweaked or, “queered.” Neither of the Cuthbert siblings are married, and their adoption of Anne late in life is a demonstration of family-making. They come to cherish and love Anne as their own, so really the show is broadly about acceptance and a cringey, embarrassing, redheaded people-pleaser. I vastly enjoyed Netflix’s action-packed take on the literary series, and over my holiday break, I’m going to binge it for the third time. When I belt out that theme song, my upstairs neighbor is going to groan, “that cringey, embarrassing girl is watching ‘Anne with an E’ again,” and unfortunately for 2N, he will be right. “You are ahead by a century! You are ahead by a century!”
  • 22. FNEWSMAGAZINE.COM DECEMBER 22 LIT the girl got drunk, lay on the floor, gazed upon the blank ceiling. Once a snow-white sketch of paint, now a canvas of chaos. In those fragile moments, memories of a boy resurfaced in her mind. She believed that she could keep the people she missed with her by meticulously preserving these memories. However, in practice, the memories served a different purpose — mirrors reflecting past mistakes, highlighting how inadequately she had appreciated the moments when they unfolded. She sifted through I n my parents’ house, a large fluffy toy nestles deep in my closet. I carefully unearth it. A mini tie, a round tail, a gentle smile, two button eyes. It’s my middle school graduation gift — a 9-foot teddy bear — from Jimmy. A whirlwind envelopes me. Ten thousand osmanthus flowers burn. Memories flood back. Jimmy walks me home. We play basketball on a secret playground. To get there, we go through the back door of a bun shop, sneak around the doorman, and hide ourselves among the trees. Shanghai’s afternoon is bathed in honeyed warmth. The temperature refuses to yield to encroaching autumn. Amidst the heatwave, osmanthus trees are in full bloom, the sweet scent hanging in the air. A silken veil. As we stroll, the scent reaches me. I look up. Sunlight flickers behind brown branches and yellow blossoms and falls on Jimmy’s soft blue shirt. I am sure that there is a moment when his tall figure melts into a golden sheen. When I was in middle school, I loved Shoujo manga. My naive heart got lost in the pinky sakura spreading over the paper. In those comics, teddy bears usually appear in heartfelt moments, and ever since, I have been dreaming about giant teddy bears. Then one day a page out of my favorite manga came to life. Jimmy wheeled that colossal teddy bear into my parent’s garage. Its white fur was so voluminous that it nearly obscured his face. The same golden sheen came to me then. After Jimmy moved away, I spent my wild high school years in our hometown alone. I grasped at anything that felt like love within my reach, like a starving beggar looking for discounted groceries. I started reading and writing romance novels. One went like this: A girl embarked on an adventure, looking for a man whose heart could be transformed by her true love, but she fell into a sea of wounds and tears. Sometimes, in the early morning, around 4 or 5 a.m., the sky was still shrouded in darkness. The rest of the world was lost in slumber. While they slept, Da Zhuang (MFAW 2025) is a staff writer at F Newsmagazine. She loves dogs, the sea, and soft boiled eggs, but hates spiders, cinnamon, and cold rain. ILLUSTRATION BY BEI LIN (BFA 2023). He is trying his hardest not to be replaced by AI. Memories of Shanghai, manga, and plushies years later ESSAY by Da Zhuang Golden Moments a box of shattered glass, digesting the tangled web of her suffering. But she never forgot the day she saw the golden sheen. A child grabbed a hard candy, swallowed it with the package, bloody sweetness in her throat. A subtle touch of raindrops on my coat. The transition from summer to fall happens almost overnight. One day, the cheerful melodies of robins fill the air. The next, a gusty wind sweeps through, carrying the scent of fireplaces. When I was a child, I never liked the taste of chicken soup, but now it is my favorite dinner choice. My plane touches down in Los Angeles. I walk across the bustling terminal, scan the sea of strange faces. Jimmy is there, standing amidst the throngs of travelers. The person who has seen me take wrong turns at so many crosswalks yet continues to turn off his engine and wait for me. The person who stood beside me at 12 stands beside me again at 21. In that instant, an overwhelming sense of familiarity washes over me, pales all the pain I have endured. Jimmy is driving me home. Jay Zhou pours from the car radio on an endless loop, soft ethereal whispers of guitar echo and disperse, familiar lyrics repeat and blur into the background. Red lights turn yellow, then green. I watch, trancelike, two rows of light, bright red and shining white, taillights and headlights moving together. A long-lost sense of security comes back to me. Before the sun dips below the horizon, nature whispers the secret of still time. The sky becomes crimson and amber, casting a warm glow over the earth. The river catches fire, sparkling beneath the fading sun’s embrace. A cascade of molten gold descends, creating the illusion of permanence despite the impending darkness. This is the golden moment. In my life, similar moments arise. These are the moments that speak directly to my heart, stirring up a complex mix of pleasure and heartache. They are forever stored in the closet of my being, reminding me of golden threads woven into a tapestry. I look at Jimmy. I see my golden sheen. “Let’s have chicken soup for dinner tonight.”
  • 23. 2023 F NEWSMAGAZINE LIT 23 ILLUSTRATION BY ADITI SINGH (BFA 2026). She is a graphic designer and digital illustrator originally from India, raised in Dubai, and recently moved to Chicago. continue to love ) Sailor Uranus. before i understood my queer identity the way i do now, Sailor Uranus was a representation of a character who was unabashedly queer, a non-binary individual who was never forced into a gender role, never the butt of the joke, and never ashamed of who they were. they were famous and rich, and their girlfriend was traditionally feminine, furthering the visibility of their queerness. they were a positive representation of queer success, and molded my vision of what being non-binary could look like, even before the term “non-binary” was widely accepted. having them to look up to gave me the courage and the vision to accept the masculine and feminine sides of myself without feeling like i had to give up one or the other, and without feeling as though my identity was compromised by fitting into a traditional mold. Sailor Uranus makes me think about the importance of fostering positive self-identities through media. i was raised in a community that was violently homophobic and transphobic, but i never loathed myself for my queer identities. i wonder if that was because, even through bleak times, harsh statements, and negative ideologies, i saw people who loved like me and were proud of it. tv saved me. and i like to think that its saving that little girl on the pink line the same way. maybe she’s not gay, but she will never doubt if she can be a smart and capable woman in STEM fields, because she saw characters in her book who are just that. as i get older, i think more about my childhood and the impact it had on me. i watched so many cartoons, tv shows, and movies, and they taught me so many things about the myriad of ways people choose to live. it taught me tolerance, acceptance, and empathy. but most importantly, it taught me self-love and self- importance. i still have a long way to go to fully accept myself as i am. but, at the end of the day, learning to love from characters who have loved themselves has gotten me a step closer toward the acceptance i crave. and that, I think, is a beautiful thing. with all my love, your honey bear. i have always been a magical girl megafan. those bishoujo senshi helped mold me into the boy princess i am today. i especially grew up with Sailor Moon; Usagi was my first foray into the realm of this specific genre of strong women who fought on their own–using their own powers and their own brains — who got knocked down, felt lost, sobbed their eyes out, but always got up and gave everything they had to protect themselves and others. they adopted femininity in a way that made me love femininity, and they looked cute doing it ! the Pretty Guardians and their adventures have always held a special place in my heart. the other day i was riding the pink line west-bound when a girl and her father sat down next to me on the train. at first I didn’t think much of it, but when i looked down briefly, i happened to be met by a volume of the original Sailor Moon manga. i think about Sailor Moon and her Pretty Guardians regularly, and i know plenty of people in my personal life who do as well. children, however, are not a regular part of my day-to-day, so i was absolutely floored to see this little girl, maybe 8 or 9, in her little pink beanie, reading an english translation of volume four of the original Sailor Moon manga. it hadn’t even crossed my mind that something i loved when i was younger could be enjoyed by young people even today ( no, the irony of that is not lost on me. shut up. ) the idea of someone much younger than me loving a series that had such a huge part of my heart had me kicking my feet, twirling my hair, kiki- ing, and shit. i loved it. i loved it, i loved it, i loved it. the girl kept looking over at me and hiding behind her book, so i decided to be the bigger person and start a conversation with her. you’re reading Sailor Moon ? she nodded real shy. i love Sailor Moon. who’s your favorite ? she told me her favorite was Sailor Mercury. i told her my favorite was Sailor Uranus. she giggled, and i smiled, and she even said nice to meet you when she got off the train, so i think i made a little friend. it wasn’t until i got off the train that i realized she had mimicked Sailor Mercury a little in the way she looked. she wasn’t wearing Mercury’s signature blue, but her long blond hair was cut into blunt bangs dyed purple ( i assumed they used to be blue, but had faded into a warm purple ) just like the Sailor Guardian’s. if i had to guess, i would say she probably loves math and science, but still loves clothes and shoes and bright colors. she saw a reflection of herself in the studious Sailor Mercury, a young girl praised for her beauty but praised more for her brains– a type of character i scarcely saw in my own childhood. i know this because it is the reason i loved ( and they were a positive representation of queer success, and molded my vision of what being non- binary could look like On falling in love with the sailor senshi ESSAY by Honey Bear Honey Bear (BFA 2025) is not a real person. Or are they? Riding the ‘L’ with Sailor Moon the grammar in this column is intentionally stylized to break american english rules. it is not a typo. BUTTERFLY EFFECT
  • 24. These Versions are Naughty, Not Nice The 2019 “Peaky Blinders”-esque version of “A Christmas Carol” isn’t great. I love Tom Hardy. I love grungy fantasy, and having a scene in hell is a wild choice. Why didn’t it work? The question, much like Marley’s ghosts, haunts me to this very day. Any of the Amazon Prime Vincent Price versions are also bad. Depending on the year, you’re liable to get a TV reading, a radio play, or some variation of the two. I love Price’s voice, and you’d think it would work for “Carol,” but it feels more like opening credits that never go anywhere. For my money, the Bill Hader parody Vincent Price Christmas specials are much better. “It’s Christmas, Carol!” from 2012 is like a Hallmark love story where the big city girl goes to a small town and falls in love with the sensitive Christmas artist — but in this version, she never actually leaves the big city in order to do so. Not even the late great Carrie Fisher playing all three ghosts and Marley could save it. I’d literally rather have just watched Carrie try on different holiday-themed hats. That 2009 CGI “Carol” where Jim Carrey tries to capture the flame of my beloved live-action Grinch film, and it falls so flat on its face I literally only thought about it, so it could be added to this list. Sorry, Jim. Where Can I Find This Online? These versions of A Christmas Carol I found out about while researching for this article and want to see full versions of. “3 Ghosts” is a steampunk-inspired version for the stage. For all of us nerds out there. 1997’s “A Christmas Carol” has Tim Curry’s voice and Whoopi Goldberg’s everything. The Alec Guiness (vintage Obi Wan!) radio production from 1951. Maybe the BBC will re-release it out of the charity of their hearts one year. David Tennant and Michael Sheen have a recurring gag about “A Christmas Carol” in their hit web series “Staged.” Using their fictionalized self parodies, and those of the famous friends they’d roped into being in the episodes, would be a true joy to see. Whatever is going on with the 2010 fan-made “Mega Man” video game series is something I want to see. Who doesn’t want to play against robots playing ghosts from “Christmas Carol”? It’s not particularly redemptive sounding, but a great reminder Christmas can be fun, too! ILLUSTRATION BY HAILEY KIM (MFAVCD 2024). She cannot work without iced coffee and sweets. In any case, I scoured the many many adaptations of a “Christmas Carol,” delved through my own memory banks, and watched a “The Jetsons” episode illegally because Hanna Barbera isn’t getting a cent of my money until they do a Blu-ray release of “Yogi’s First Christmas.” Ones not featured on this list might be in the online version of this article. Adaptations that are already “A” tier, like “Muppet Christmas Carol,” are just on the jingle my bells list without another thought. There’s a reason for all those December Kermit memes you see right up until December 25. I’d wager Kermit himself could give Mariah Carey a run for her money in kicking off the holiday season. Also, there’s a rumor that “Muppet Christmas Carol” is the version most well-loved by Dickens scholars for adhering closest to the spirit of the original — or, at least among Dickens scholars who like fun and joy. These Versions Jingle My Bells (and that’s a Good Thing) 1984’s George C. Scott version is the gold standard for a reason. Made for TV, this is the one where you truly get to see the creepy, malnourished orphans hanging out under Ghost of Christmas Present’s coat. And if you still have cable, it’s a great alternative to “It’s a Wonderful Life.” That “Xena: Warrior Princess” episode from 1996 where Xena and Gabrielle impersonate the Three Fates on Solstice Eve (because Jesus hadn’t been born yet). Everybody on “Xena” always really got into the world they crafted, and it’s only with true heart that a story set in 1840s London could really work in ancient mythological times. “Diva: A Christmas Carol” makes Vanessa Williams the best female Scrooge (sorry Susan Lucci!), and also is the only one on the list with one of the best female pop Christmas songs of all time. Sometimes the snow really does come down in June, just not for Vanessa as Scrooge. The 1999 “Christmas Carol” with Patrick Stewart, which was created because of the success of his one- man “Christmas Carol” show is also good. (When is Brett Goldstein going to do the same? We’ve all seen that video of you doing the Muppet medley as Kermit, Brett.) T he “Adaptations of A Christmas Carol” wiki page lists 397 entries. This really just means whether you’ve listened to a cast recording, seen a cartoon, gone to a stage play, read a Marvel “Zombies” comic, seen Dolly Parton’s “Smoky Mountain Christmas,” or had the tv on at grandma’s house —- you’ve had some contact with Charles Dickens arguably most famous classic. In considering its perennial power and why it lasts, “A Christmas Carol” really succeeds as a story about how even the worst of us, deep down, wants to be better. Ebenezer Scrooge is not just scared into change, he’s reminded why money came to mean so much to him in the first place, and for very real reasons. And it succeeds mostly because of three standout and iconic characters: the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Specifically, the Ghost of Christmas Future sticks out. If you think Christmas is all Jingle Bells and “ho ho ho,” watch out, because Pete from the “Mickey Christmas Carol” is just as terrifying as anything else I’ve seen. He literally sends Ebenezer Scrooge McDuck down to hell via his own open grave. It is not subtle. As for getting better, the audience can see a real change in Scrooge. His spooky reckoning reminds him of the really important things, including his relationship with his nephew Fred. Introduced as an adversarial relationship, Fred is a kindred spirit to Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s hapless employee about two toes from the poor house himself. These are whom Scrooge chooses to reconcile with as his first act of turning over a new wintery leaf. And for a film with “Christmas” in the title, Christmas is really not the point —save for its English winter setting in the 1840s. Though some versions shove Jesus in the narrative, and there are allusions to English Christmas traditions, it doesn’t feel like a sermon you’d get at church with your family. It doesn’t feel like it’s trying to convert you to a particular branch or scare you into a religion. The ideals are universal: charity, kindness, and duty toward community. Though the piece is usually set in the 1840s, when it was written, the story is still easy to follow. And when you update it, as in Bill Murray’s “Scrooged,” it’s still effective and feels authentic to place and time. —sometimes even made funnier by the updates. And again, if you want scary, Bill Murray is both almost tossed off a skyscraper and burned alive in his version. John McDonald (MFAW 2025) (he/they) is a queer playwright bent on telling stories that highlight the diverse yet universal relationships we share. You’ll find them scarfing doughnuts, brownies, and compliments wherever the best ones are. Forever Haunting ‘A Christmas Carol’ DECEMBER FNEWSMAGAZINE.COM Naughty and nice adaptation ESSAY by John McDonald 24 ENTERTAINMENT