d e t a i l

Photography and Flexible Necklace in black by Lena Wunderlich

I recently met Lena Wunderlich, a German native and current RISD Masters student. Lena is a photographer, and jewelry designer.

When she showed me her portfolio I flipped. It’s so fresh and clean, yet highly ambitious and innovative.  When I felt the materials I couldn’t believe how versatile and durable they were.  Her work, whether photos, art design or intricate jewelry pieces, is always crisp, clean, and forward thinking.


Lena like many designers I meet, Lena has such an impeccable eye for detail.  Her sensibility is functional, often quiet, and highly individualized. Shooting with her reminded me that good work is really all in the details.

Lena is currently fundraising for resources to help her complete her degree at RISD (The Rhode island School of Design). Check out the effort and contribute if you can.

Westward Ho

an Alfalfa Field
an Alfalfa Field

After Chautauqua I took a little (big) road trip from New York to Washington to unpack the last three years. We passed through New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Idaho and Washington.

Some things I did:

  • Caught up with friends and family in Chicago (the most underrated city ever.  I really miss living there.)
  • Had big margaritas at a theme park in Wisconsin while discussing the social and economic pros and cons of strip clubs.
  • Visited the Northern Cheyenne reservation in Montana.
  • Saw Mount Rushmore. (It’s a “memorial” but what is it memorializing?)
  • Had the best burger of my life in Idaho at Hudson’s Hamburgers.  Thanks Ian!
  • Visited a traditional wild west town in South Dakota.
  • Won $175 on a roulette table. (I have a new addiction)
  • Sang “Creep” by Radiohead for karaoke at a gay bar in downtown Coeur d’Alene (not the best upper song for karaoke night but I CRUSHED IT!!!!)
  • Ate at one of my dad’s favorite venues he plays on his tour called Moon Time.
  • Met a really nice black cat named Jasper in Coeur d’Alene.
Ritzville Washington
Ritzville Washington

There is just so much space in this big, old, red an blue country.  I wonder how the entertainment industry remains so over saturated in just two cities, NYC and LA, particularly when they are becoming more and more economically unsustainable. Montana was particularly gorgeous, I mean breathtakingly open and clean and picturesque.  We drove through some patches of bad smoke from the forest fires there, but I couldn’t think of a more beautiful place to start a little company or take a writing retreat.

The Columbia River

The most beautiful landmark I saw by far was the Columbia River in Washington.  They way the water funnels in is just gorgeous.  It was incredibly quiet and arid. There is a great Woody Guhthrie called Roll on Columbia Roll on that you should listen to. It evokes the tone and feel of the space.

Roll on, Columbia, roll on
Your power is turning our darkness to dawn
So roll on, Columbia, roll on
Green Douglas firs where the waters cut through
Down her wild mountains and canyons she flew
Canadian Northwest to the oceans so blue
Roll on Columbia, roll on


Hope to make another trip soon, maybe in the winter.



Third Year


First day of the last year of graduate school.  I am excited, ready for more work and collaborations, but above all I can’t believe I made it this far.  It’s always easy to look back and ponder what path you could have taken, and to be weary of an unknowable future. But it’s great to be in the here and now, and to give it your all.

There is a lot going on in the US and abroad and I think it’s important to locate yourself; physically, politically, and spiritually. Where are you? Be where you are.  What do you believe in? Pursue your beliefs. I think that knowing your point of view, your concerns, and where you lie on the line are the best ways to enrich your art and your life. Second Year showed me that, this summer at the Guthrie showed me that, and I hope to carry it into the Third Year.

Looking back:

A Guthrie Experience


Project Hedda


Twelfth Night

Much Ado About Nothing

Grateful, humble, and excited for more.  Thanks to my family, my friends, thankful for good health and my faculty. Wishing you all success in the coming year!







the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, esp. to do something creative.

the drawing in of breath; inhalation.

inspiration is a drawing in of the mind, of resources around you in order to make something new. inspiration is aspiration.  i am thinking of  Stromae  nee Paul van Haver and his blending of reality + dance music. his sound is a sound of the now –> global culture now, unemployment now, uneven color lines now, youth-malaise now, the end of the golden age of capitalism now. 


and at the heart of it all a fierce f*%&$*ng relentless beat. formidable indeed.

stromae = how can my art be created and communicated in a connected way?

i am thinking of photography and the power of image. what i mean by “image” is that which is most immediately seen and digested. blink. what do you see? what is stationary near you? what are you looking at? what is the picture you see when your eyes are open? close your eyes. now what do you see? how is this image the same? how is it changing with each blink, moving further and further away from the root image you first saw when your eyes were open?

What are we really seeing then, when we are constantly encountering images both natural and edited? reality based and technologically generated and altered? what is in my mind’s eye if everything i am seeing is based on a construction?

i am thinking of a new year. 2014. hoping to work from an inspired place and create images that are worth being in your mind’s eye.



A First Look

Let me start by saying this is the first post I have done for 2013. Well, Happy 2013.  It got off to a great start with the First look Festival- a night of theatrical programming completley planned and created by my class. I made my directing debut and also had my first writing piece featured. Shot from rehearsal below…

Rehearsal for “Condition” my first short play part of the First Look Festival

My class, 16 funny-brilliant-unique-spaztastic people from all over the country, created a really unique evening that culminated in dancing (yes!) AND SINGING (double yes!). I also was a part of another festival, Writing is Live, in a new play written by Ugandan playwright Margaret Namulyunga. The piece explored, or rather exploded, traditional Ugandan conceptions of sex and marriage.

Backstage for He is Here He Says I Say, by Margaret Namulyunga. Part of the Writing is Live festival
Backstage for He is Here He Says I Say, by Margaret Namulyunga. Part of the Writing is Live festival.

The days are always crazy, but I’m learning more about myself and about what collaborative work is.  I am thrilled to say that my next project will be In The Blood by Suzan-Lori Parks directed by Flordelino Lagundino, the role of Mother Hester.

Eternal thanks to my mother, without whom none of this would have been possible.


PS1, My First Time

Be African American. Be Very African American.

This Sunday I ventured with Viv So to PS1, one of the multiple former public schools that have been transformed into art spaces, this one owned by MoMA. It was a fruitful visit; warm enough to enjoy the outdoor spaces, New-Yorkers lounging and milling about and time seemed to have slowed, the way it tends to in art spaces.

A naked man, some powder, and an unsolicited French Kiss

Lucky me, the African American Performance Artist Clifford Owens was performing live as a part of his exhibit, Anthology.

Through photography, audio, video and live performance, Anthology explores sexuality, space and identity.  The body of work was visceral and kinetic, and Owens himself was fearless.

In one live performance Owens searchingly roams the center of a white room, with audience scaling the walls as he challenges each attendee, inviting them (daring them) to a touch, an embrace, or a kiss.

Black and White

In another performance Owens, naked in the center of a white room remains motionless in strength as audience members reposition his body and move him about a space demarcated by a black rectangle.

I couldn’t help thinking about my own level of comfort with intimacy and confrontation. Living in NY so far has been all about negotiating crowds and I come into impersonal contact with so many people. But I am really bad at keeping my head down and giving the world dead eye. I can’t help responding when something outrageous happens and interacting with my surroundings. (The man who mooned us the 6 the other day… was I REALLY the only one who saw that? #realtalk)

Then there is the whole, “I like to do stuff on stage in front of lots of people” thing…. so in a small way I am willing to cross boundaries? In a small way I am an exhibitionist? And in a large way I want my work to express black issues? I therefore identified strongly with Owens’ work.

Tell Me What to Do With Myself

But the amount of bravery on display in Anthology is almost shocking. Hopefully Owens will inspire me to be more daring with my work and expressive with my body. Being new in town never ceases to be exhilarating, shocking, and frustrating so I am sure I’ll have a lot to share.



And finally, we present Whitney’s official reel for 2012. It took us long enough but it was well worth the wait! Clips featured include: NBC’s The Playboy Club (Pilot, and Ep 1), and the Documentary on The House Theatre’s Girls vs Boys.  All photography by Janna Giacoppo. Check it out!

What do you think? Let us know!


Reflections on a Legacy

My time in New York so far has been eye-opening in many ways. As I took time today to  pay reverence to Dr King I found myself considering what his legacy means specifically for actors and creatives of color.

Here are thoughts my colleagues shared on the meaning of MLK Day.




The freedom to be accepted as I am in all my glory. I can do what I love and share it without  watering myself down or only being accepted by select audiences.”



Tiffany Yvonne Cox, Actress based out of Chicago and works with UPROOTED.










“As a black actress I draw strength from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s Legacy. One of the greatest things MLK did was simply walking tall in his own skin. He renounced notions of inferiority because he understood who he was, and whose he was. He believed that everyone was a child of God and that fact alone entitled him to the fullness of life.

There are many who can only envision you in the boxes they create. There are some that don’t really feel your story is worth telling. Because of MLK’s life I walk tall. Even as I stand at a mere 5 ft. I hold my head high and I proudly tell the stories of those who didn’t always have the chance to. I’m simply grateful.”


Melanie Brezill, Actress based out of Chicago, soon to be featured in the Award winning musical The Book of Mormon.




Not too long ago, people were kept from exercising their rights as humans. Fast forward a few decades, we have witnessed the election of an African-American president and  improvements to gay rights legislation.

I am in the position to take advantage of the victories of our predecessors. I am a product of post colonial Nigeria and the Civil Rights movement. I create freely and  because of men and women like MLK, I am also free to critique the world in which I live in without fear of prosecution.”



 Derin Adesida, dancer and actress, based in Lagos, Nigeria and Chicago.








I remember his words from the Mountaintop Speech, ‘I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So I’m happy, tonight.’ This man’s foresight and sacrifice is amazing. He looked in the face of hate and injustice and found a glimmer of hope for the future, hope for the generations that would follow. It is a beautiful notion that most of us rarely consider; living your life in service for another’s well-being. 

As I remember this man, I spend a little time re-evaluating my life dreams and goals making sure that they are aligned with the idea of doing something for the good of others. It is easy to identify the problems with the world. Today I choose to focus on the ways I could be a solution!”
Patrese McClain, Actress based out of Chicago, featured at St Louis Rep.



Without Dr. King I would not be where I am today. As I start my first Off-Broadway show I can walk through the front door to get to my dressing room and not the back. I can have the same rights as any other actor in NYC, and have the freedom to do my passion without the cloud of racism over my heard. I can hold my head up high and say I am an actor, I’m black, and I’m Proud!



Marisha Wallace is a Vocalist and Actress based out of New York, soon to be featured Off- Broadway in Sistas.








Like Dr King we must be conscious and work towards leaving a legacy that performers of the next generation can build upon. It is not a burden, it is a privilege, and when things are difficult remember: the movement Dr, King initiated was marked by inspiration, defiance and resilience, three qualities will get you through.