Browse Exhibits (3 total)

Memes: Cultural Snapshots


The Internet has transformed everyday writing. No longer is everyday writing restricted to physical vehicles such as letters or papers. Through technology, digital writing is at the forefront—and even more ephemeral in the fast paced technological landscape. Out of this fast turnover, one medium has managed to survive long enough to become a cultural staple: memes. Memes, in a literal sense, can be defined as combining text and images in order to relay a message, however in a broader, more figurative sense, they can be described as cultural snapshots. Richard Dawkins coined the term in his 1976 book The Selfish Genre defining it as an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. This spread of memes creates a general understanding of them amongst us, thus giving them a communal sense.

Everyday writing is a facet of writing that includes works of a casual nature—meaning the purpose of such writing is not for professional means, but rather means of convenience. Everyday writing embodies the everyday, from grocery lists, annotated notes, jotted down details, etc., it is a style of writing that captures the moment of its creation. There are memes that reference cultural phenomena like elections, celebrities, societal issues, and more, giving people a glimpse of the time they were created in. Memes fit into this category in two ways. One of which is that they can be created by anyone. All they require is an image and some text. The second way is that they too capture the moment of their creation.

Memes change as fast as the world around us, and people are becoming quick to create new ones to address these changes. People even use them as a means of communication (i.e. sending a meme or a GIF as opposed to a standard text message). Perhaps the reason behind the longevity of memes is how relatable they are to the millennial generation. Memes are shared so much and through so many channels that tracing them back to their original source can be a daunting task—cementing them as forms of everyday writing. In most cases, the source of a piece of everyday writing is unknown to all except the composer, so in this sense, memes are able to continually exist in the space of our lives. 

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Poetry, My Name is Dad

Poetry is known for its creative ingenuity, and as an engine of expression. Poems can be written for a myriad of reasons, but they hold a technical level that is more complex, in some respects, to other forms of circulated works: such as novels, short stories or essays. As a tool of everyday writing, poems can represent this definition through non-academic or work-related creation. Poetry is an abstract art that can discern the identity of the individual: the artist. Through poetry, culture and personal identity can be revealed through form and content.

This exhibit wishes to showcase the poems of a single individual: Roshan Ramhit. Roshan Ramhit was born on the island of Trinidad and Tobago. This island is located off the coast of South America in the Caribbean; the island is shaped like a boot. He grew up on the island and spent his youth there. It was only during his university years that he left Trinidad and moved to New York.

His works are written during his college years, and show off his identity to me as a father. As a man of distinct cultural background, his poems are also capable of enlightening on his childhood experiences and the culture he grew up in.

Several themes throughout his poetry are that of loneliness and homesickness. Roshan Ramhit explained, “Yeah, from home to school there was an hour of travel. So it [writing poetry] was to wait the time away. Also moving to a new environment [from Trinidad to New York], leaving my friends behind…, it was lonely. It was to take out frustration, loneliness and whatever else.”

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Watercolors as Windows: Great Aunt Carol's Hand-Painted/Written Cards


This exhibit showcases the work of Carol A. Kiefel through a series of hand-painted greeting cards with handwritten text. Although she created and mailed these cards to a number of family members and friends, all of the cards in this exhibit were maiiled to me, Jessi Thomsen, her great niece. Reading across and between these cards, I analyze the underlying currents and meanings of her original images and text and the insights about everyday writing that might be gained at the intersection of verbal and visual. The exhibit also acts as a window to see the dynamics of life events of both sender and receiver and the affect attached to those events, words, images, and relationships.

Start by navigating to the Gallery as Introduction to view the full set of fifteen greeting cards. Then, browse through the other pages to see specific cards put in conversation with each other within the context of everyday writing.

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