I think Walt Whitman’s poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry is definitely a piece that requires the reader to read through the poem a few times and analyze each stanza. During my first read through I was completely confused on what the poem was about. I didn’t know if it was about what the speaker was seeing on his ride on the ferry or how he feels connected with the people who have rode and will ride the ferry. About halfway through I realized it was about both. The speaker is talking about how so many people have seen, are seeing, and will see the same things he is looking at which is why he feels a connection with these people.

The speaker uses a lot of repetition. Often, the speaker repeated the same word in consecutive lines in stanzas. I think this repetition shows the connection the speaker is telling the reader about. Another way the speaker illustrates the connection he feels with people is by telling the reader he has done the same things he sees people doing currently.

The most interesting thing I noticed which furthers the concept of being connected is that the speaker addresses all of the questions and reiterates the statements he said throughout the poem in the last two stanzas. I also think these last two stanzas serve to show that even in the future, we’re still connected to the past and present. I think the last two lines of the poem summarize the flow of continuity, “You furnish your parts toward eternity,/Great or small, you furnish your parts toward the soul.”

-Amber G.


Tonight’s play was so amazing! I really enjoyed how the play was different from the novel but, in a way so that it kept true to the novel even though it took some liberties. I think that the important things that make the story Washington Square were there which is the important thing but, less important things were changed and this made it so that even a person who didn’t read the novel could understand the play.

The actors and actresses did a fantastic job! Judith Ivey who played Aunt Penniman was so hilarious and I was always smiling when she came on stage. Virginia Kull who played Catherine was wonderful as well. She was shy and uncomfortable in the beginning without being annoying. The audience loved how she bowed and sat down very slowly trying to be graceful. I’m happy that they were able to tone down the actress without her losing too much of her beauty, she was simple yet, striking, the way many people including myself envisioned Catherine. I loved David Strathairn who played Dr. Sloper. He was stern but he wasn’t too stern so that the audience didn’t like him. I think the writers gave him funny lines and the way he acted made it so that we couldn’t like Dr. Sloper nor could we hate him. Dan Stevens who played Morris played him very well.

The ending, the ending, the ending! The whole play had me laughing or in shock at what was just said but the ending was the only time I felt the feeling in the pit of my stomach. I was so nervous that Catherine was going to marry him, when she told him to get ready and gave him the buttons I thought to myself, “This isn’t supposed to happen! This is going to ruin the whole play for me!” The way Catherine just ignored Morris made up for my momentary worry. The way Morris called for Catherine pulled at my heartstrings.

-Amber G


Today, we spoke a little bit about why Washington Square is considered by many people a classic. We spoke about the narrator in the novel and how he was often ironical. I liked the narrator because I think he made a fairly normal story that could be boring more entertaining to read. I think the reason why I enjoyed the novel so much was because the style that Henry James wrote in reminds me of the way Oscar Wilde wrote. One reason why I think both authors write in a similar fashion is because James preferred European culture to American culture and Wilde was a European (Irish) author.

Towards the end of the class, we watched scenes from two movies based on the novel. I preferred the older film, the Heiress, to the more recent Washington Square. I had a lot of problems with the scenes we watched from the more recent film. I didn’t like the way Catherine was portrayed, she was too jittery and I saw Catherine as more of a quiet girl. I didn’t like that they changed the color of the dress to yellow. A major point of the dress was that it was red as a tribute to her mother. I also didn’t like Morris in this film either, I feel he was too stuck up and wasn’t doing a good job of hiding his confidence.

I enjoyed the scenes from the Heiress. I felt Dr. Sloper was sarcastic but, in an enjoyable way. In the party scene, you can tell Catherine is nervous but, she isn’t jumpy like the Catherine portrayed in Washington Square. I also thought the slight accent Morris had was charming but, not in your face. Even though I didn’t picture Morris with an accent, it was a nice touch to make the movie different from the novel but not completely different so that it loses touch with the original story.

I’m excited to go to the play and see how they portray the different characters. I’m not going to do any research so that I can have a completely fresh impression on Wednesday.

-Amber G.


When we started class today, we spoke about the music in Turandot. We spoked about how the music was very Italian but, in Liu’s scenes and during transitional scenes, Puccini hinted faux-Chinese motifs. I realized Liu’s aria was different from the rest of the music but I didn’t think that it was very Chinese and it wasn’t meant to be. I went into the opera knowing that they were representing a story but not trying to reenact it. I think opera is about telling a story not trying to get every detail exact. I feel that opera is more about the story and not so much about where or when the particular story is supposed to take place.

My mother and I, as I have mentioned, will be seeing Aida later next month. I went on Youtube to listen to a few songs from the opera and from what I have listened to, there are hints of faux-Egyptian music (there are hints of generalized snake charming music). It is done in a similar fashion to how Puccini hinted at Chinese motifs or Bizet hinted at Spanish motifs. It doesn’t consume the whole song but, if you listen attentively, you can hear it.

I quite enjoyed Professor Sirotta’s visit. I found it very interesting that he was able to remember his first musical experience and that led him to create the piece we’ll be hearing on Sunday. I found the history of the piece interesting as well, how he began working on it in 1992 on the computer, actually started and finished the score in 1998, and in 2010 voiced the piece and made a full computer orchestra recording. I think it’s amazing that he stuck with the song for that long and he still wants to revise some parts after all these years.

-Amber G


Oh my gosh! The opera was amazing! I’ve watched telecasts of a few operas and I’ve listened to one or two on the radio but actually being at the Met is a completely different experience. My mother and I have bought tickets to see Adia by Verdi because I really want to see another opera before the year is over. On the way home, I was humming Nessun Dorma. I knew the opera would be great but I was still blown away by everything. I’m not exaggerating when I say everything.

So much goes into making an opera and it’s clear to see. One thing I would like to know is how the singers get together to practice and how the opera is choreographed because the singers usually don’t speak the same native language. Hilba Gerzmava (Liù) is from Russia, Maria Guleghina (Turandot) is from the Ukraine, Marco Berti (Calàf) is from Italy, and James Morris (Timur) is from the States. I wonder how they were able to practice when they don’t speak the same native language. I guess that doesn’t matter because they all share the love of opera. It’s also pretty amazing that no matter where you are seated in the Met, you can hear the singers just fine. However, there were a few moments when you could tell that the singers were pushing their voices even though it didn’t sound strained.
There were so many people on stage sometimes and some of the scenes had some intense choreography that obviously required hours upon hours of practice.  The musicians complemented the performers so well and it’s pretty amazing that I was able to hear flutes from where I was sitting. The costumes and sets were so beautiful and I was taken aback when Act II Scene II began and the beautiful palace and princess were revealed. The costumes had so many intricate details, which showed me that the Met wants everything to be perfect.

I can’t wait for Wednesday so, I can hear what everyone else loved about the opera. It was so nice hearing people talking about it on the bus ride home and I’m glad that we all went because I think a lot of people who didn’t think they would enjoy the opera actually loved it.

– Amber G


Today, we spoke about opera and the different types of voices for men and women. I thought it was pretty interesting to find out that opera was created around the early 1600s by combining drama and music. I was a bit disappointed when Professor Kahan didn’t include my favorite composer, Rossini, in her “Four Greats” but I was particularly happy when we spoke about him for a few minutes. Being a horn player, I’ve unfortunately come to brush off listening to Mozart (his four horn concertos are drilled into any horn player so, it can be a not so nice reminder when Mozart comes on the radio) and I feel terrible for not recognizing that he was a great opera composer.

Learning some of the opera vocabulary is making me more comfortable in talking about operas. I’ve always been afraid to speak about operas because I thought I might come off as unintelligent about the subject and therefore too inferior to speak about it. Now that I know some of the vocabulary, I’m becoming more comfortable and embracing this opera loving side of me. In my high school music program, we had to go to a school broadcasting live performance of the Met once a semester. I remember Carmen, obviously, even though I saw it almost two years ago. At the time I thought I was too young to find enjoyment in the operas but now that I’m older I know that was really silly of me.

I’m so excited to see the opera, and even the dressed up audience members, that I listened to the opening night of Turandot on Saturday on my satellite radio. I didn’t have the time to listen to it all and I didn’t have English subtitles but I had tremendous respect for what goes into the opera.

– Amber G


Today, I thought our discussion of music would come rather naturally to me being that I play the horn. I was mistaken. In today’s discussion, I looked at music in a way I have never before. When the sheet music was handed out, I thought the discussion was going to be extremely unfair, and perhaps frightening, to those who don’t know how to read music just as if someone handed me an essay in another language. Once we started the discussion, I realized that we were approaching music in a similar fashion to how we approached visual artwork.
We began our discussion by talking about if we saw any patterns in the sheet music. I thought, “Yeah, a whole bunch of sixteenth notes” but hearing the non-musicians talk about what they saw made me realize I was being close-minded. Some people described the notes as “going up and down” or “increasing”. It was really interesting to hear other people talk about music in non-technical terms. Another musical redefining moment for me was when we talked about how you can have a completely different song from similar notes by rearranging the four musical elements (rhythm, melody, harmony, and timbre and texture). By emphasizing one element or another you can get a completely different feel as we saw in the two pieces by Bach, Praeludium I and Praeludium II. I had never thought about that before so, now whenever I listen to a piece of music, I’m always thinking about which element is being emphasized.
Toward the end of class, we began speaking about operas. One really interesting thing that was mentioned was how deep emotion is translated through physical exertion of the voice. That’s so intriguing and I’ll remember that when we go to see Turandot.

– Amber G

Today, before we embarked to the gallery, Professor Liu visited our class to explain a little bit of what we were going to view. He explained what his purpose in the gallery was, since he is a professor of astronomy, not art. He explained that Johann Jakob Scheuchzer was a person who enjoyed both science and art, which nowadays isn’t very common. Professor Liu started the discussion by asking us if we think it is possible to enjoy both the sciences and the arts. I know, however uncommon it might be, that it is possible and many people do enjoy both. I think it’s a common misconception that people can’t enjoy both because of what many of us have been told from a younger age.
I remember being in grammar school and being told that if you enjoy math, you mostly use the left side of your brain, and if you enjoy the arts, you mostly use the right side of your brain. This separation makes children feel that you can only be good at, or find pleasure in, one or the other but not both. Even as people grow up and go into their specific fields of study, many adults might not enjoy, and might even fear, a subject that they aren’t trained in or comfortable with. Professor Liu also made another good point by saying that everything we do has both an artistic and scientific component; both are part of our lives. He further explained this by using a metaphor, a piano. The notes and sounds we hear are the art aspect of a piano. The meter and the mechanics of the piano are the scientific aspect.
I think many great things can happen when people embrace both the sciences and the arts. We can see this in Scheuchzer’s artwork. Scheuchzer paints Biblical scenes and incorporates science as well. In his boarders, which often become the painting itself, he often shows the scientific part of various Bible verses. In his painting of the mustard seed, the mustard plant’s roots are in the boarders but, the leaves because part of the main picture. Scheuchzer is also not afraid to paint some anatomical things like animal bones. I often saw that a lot of his paintings have animals in them, whether a main part of the picture or in the boarder. Some of his paintings have a globe on them, which incorporates geography, another science. Scheuchzer is a prime example that one can enjoy science and art.

– Amber G

Edward Hopper’s style



I think Edward Hopper’s style is a combination of Americana-realism and Expressionism. From the artwork viewed in class and the few other paintings and etchings I’ve looked at online, Hopper’s art is almost timeless with the only thing dating it being the fashion he depicts. His landscape and architectural scenes are still relevant today. If you go out to Maine you’ll still see lighthouses similar to the one depicted in the Lighthouse at Two Lights. If you go out into the countryside you might still see a house by train tracks sort of like House by the Railroad.
In Hopper’s paintings depicting people (Nighthawks, Chop Suey, Cape Cod Evening, Hotel Window), the scenes are of people are doing normal, everyday things that aren’t out of the ordinary. Eating out late, looking over the pasture or out the window, working late hours in the office, are all things a majority of people can relate to. This allows emotion to be depicted. Many of Hopper’s paintings evoke feelings of loneliness primarily because many of his subjects are alone. A lone women eating Chinese food or waiting by the exit of a movie (New York Movie) make the viewer feel the loneliness. Even with his architectural paintings, Hopper will often paint one subject be it house, lighthouse, or farm. The same emotions are conjured up when viewing the architectural paintings even though a house isn’t alive.

The viewer can also feel the monotony of everyday life in many of Hopper’s paintings. Even today, people still work late shifts and can relate to a painting of two people working during the night. People are able to relate to two friends going out to eat. Even though automats are no longer part of American culture, at one time or another many of us have eaten in a public place by ourselves. Being able to relate to the painting makes the viewer able to feel the loneliness and sadness depicted in many of Hopper’s paintings. Even in Seven A.M. and unsettling feeling can be felt because the viewer can see the storm brewing in the painting.
Being able to feel the emotions in Hopper’s paintings is why I think his artwork is part Expressionism. It is also Americana-realism because many of the settings in his artwork can be seen, even today, in America.

-Amber G

Mona Lisa talk. 9-10

Today, I noticed when the class was trying to decide what the three focal points of the Mona Lisa were, the background of the painting was taken into account. I never would’ve thought to include the background into deciding focal points but it makes sense. Looking at the picture now, the three different terrains help the observer decide the focal points. The lighter background, which consists of the sky, the forest, and the river leading into the ocean, accompany the first focal point. The second focal point includes the dry, mysterious land our class spent some time describing earlier in the discussion. The third focal point doesn’t have much of a background but it is even darker, almost blending in with the subject’s clothes.

One student mentioned that the complexity of the background compliments the simplicity of the subject. Even though many people, including myself don’t find the subject “simple”, the observation ties into why this painting has stood the test of time. The background is indeed complex; different types of geological features, chaotic formations, and varying colors. This helps the viewer focus, unconsciously, on the subject’s face.

When we began talking about how to approach art, we discussed our favorite scenes from movies. More specifically, we spoke about how in movies, directors will make a slight pause after important lines to evoke an emotion in us the first few times we watch the movie. After watching the movie many times, this pause can become awkward. I realized this when I thought of one of my favorite films, the Breakfast Club. A memorable line from the movie is, “Screws fall out all the time, the world’s an imperfect place”, and there is a slight pause that is almost undetected except that an angry principal who was previously shouting wouldn’t make such a pause when dealing with a troublesome student talking back.