Letter From the Editor, April 2021
Updated: May 14
When I was 13, I played in an endearing, if infantile, rendition of Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George. The musical, dissonant and cerebral, follows the eccentric George Seurat, a pioneer of the Neo-Impressionist movement in 19th-century Paris. I played his crotchety mother—“Old Lady,” read the program—and sang a single mewling solo.
Pointillism—the technique Seurat developed—unfolds as much within the brain as it does before the eyes. In this school, artists construct their paintings by stippling the canvas with thousands of distinct dots that play in contrast and conversation with one another. Up close, the work appears speckled and indecipherable, but from a particular distance, its vibrancy surpasses all.
The writers and editors of our April issue have concerned themselves obsessively with the dots. Words, precisely patterned to generate a mood, decorate each section of April’s canvas. After weeks of holding my face just inches from these particles, it is only in these last few days that I have stepped away to witness the picture that springs to life from afar. And what a joy to see this issue, its 51,000 dots in calibrated concert on the page.
In a moment of serendipity, our illustrators pitched three large illustrations—our cover, postcard, and centerfold—inspired by fine art. I was thrilled, not least because I knew I could carry on this pattern in my letters of likening our magazine to various art forms without (I hope) stretching the metaphor too far. Enjoy Kat Chen’s rendition of the School of Athens, Maya Weed’s modern take on a Bruegel scene, and Rosaline Qi’s flowchart of Art Hum portraits.
The pieces in each of our columns, this issue, conjure their own particular shades. In Jaden Jarmel-Schneider’s modern rendezvous to mimic his grandparents, and in Maya Weed’s feature on loving professor partnerships, a dash of amber romance alights the page. Others assume a more piercing color that grips the eye—Cy Gilman on Chegg’s dishonorable corporate strategy, Claire Shang on Columbia Debate Society’s cultural deadlock, Becky Miller on the big problems with Barnard’s Big Problems course, and Lyla Trilling on Columbia’s mysterious endowment.
Elysa Caso-McHugh writes powerfully on disability at Columbia and Barnard, while Kelsey Kitzke calls on us to think of survivors in our sexual violence response—both to a somber and earnest effect. Willa Neubauer and Sam Needlemen punctuate our picture with bright insight in their respective conversations with Harlem resident Andi Owens and architecture professor Mabel Wilson. Chase Cutarelli and Sylvie Epstein explore the shaded and off-kilter corners of Covidland, and a sparkle of joy highlights this month’s encounter between Dante and Verily.
Sit back and let the color and light wash over you in this month’s most vibrant issue. A huge congratulations and heartfelt thank-you to our three graduating seniors, Mary Elizabeth Dawson, BC ’21, Gaby Edwards, BC ’21, and Gabe Garon, CC ’21. I cannot express enough my appreciation for this wonderful group who pulled such a beautiful picture together, from a thousand broken particles, in times of shadow. Here’s to new light.