Tags Posts tagged with "Kamrin Baker"

Kamrin Baker

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Kamrin Baker
CONTRIBUTOR

Published in 2007, the novel “13 Reasons Why” by Jay Asher found its young adult audience quickly and viscerally. Asher told the story of Hannah Baker, a young woman who died by suicide during high school. Instead of the oh-so-advertised and Hollywood-glamorized suicide note, Hannah left 13 tapes for 13 of her classmates, describing the painful and raw decision to end her own life.

The story switches points of view between Hannah and her classmate and crush, Clay Jensen, who is the current owner of the tapes, and the kindest voice Asher could give to such an unkind story.

After 10 years, the book has been adapted to a Netflix original, produced by Selena Gomez and her mother, Mandy Teefey. Gomez has a history of speaking up about mental illness, and this show is her most actionable headline to date.

Premiering on the streaming site the last day of March, “13 Reasons Why” took over social media—it’s a show that maybe shouldn’t be binged because of its heavy nature—but definitely was.

The show is certainly triggering for people—especially those who have a history with mental illness. Scenes depict rape and sexual assault, depressive episodes, alcohol and drug abuse and suicide itself. In the 13 episodes, three feature trigger warnings prior to the opening credits, and rightfully so. However, individuals should be notified the kind of performances they’re about to see before clicking on the new title.

Criticisms are circling online that the characters in the show are not good examples of what young people should do in the event of a mental health crisis or suicide, but in its defense, the story was never meant to be a PSA. “13 Reasons” is a realistic, ugly, stick-to-your-ribs story about the effects of mental illness. It’s painfully sad, tear inducing and heart-breaking, but shown through the pretty faces of young actors.

The Baker family is where I found the greatest breakout performances; with Kate Walsh nailing the role of a mother whose new sole purpose in life is figuring out why her only child decided to end her life. Walsh as Olivia Baker is poignant and beautifully calamitous, especially in a scene where her husband brings her home a dozen roses. Walsh goes to the kitchen to fill up a vase for the bouquet, and in the middle of the menial task, freezes, as the water pours and pours, the vase overflowing in the sink. While the writing of this one moment so purely depicts grief and depression, Walsh performs with such ease and vulnerability, the audience can’t help but wonder how she will ever find relief.

Newcomer Katherine Langford as Hannah Baker also puts on a wonderful performance. The emotion she provokes in audiences and fellow cast mates is simultaneously thrilling and chilling, as she teeters on the existence of alive and dead. Her voiceovers echo long after the episodes end, and the simplicity and courage in her performance is all I could pay attention to; the perfect emblem of character development—or really, character degeneration.

The innerworkings of the high school where this story takes place is very telling of the climate in which the audience is also living. After Hannah’s death, the student council puts up memorials and informative posters all around the halls, but rather than feel safer and more accepted, students lash out against this. They find it embarrassing, weak and unnecessary, but in reality, young adults silently crying out for and are almost devoid of real, helpful resources in their high schools.

According to the Youth Suicide Prevention Program, one in six high school students has reported considering suicide, and although “13 Reasons Why” doesn’t necessarily show young people exactly how to avoid these feelings, it shows us exactly why we must teach our children in real life.

All high schools and universities differ in their counseling avenues, but the general resources across the country are undoubtedly lacking. “13 Reasons” is the first successful show on Netflix to break through in its nitty-gritty, uncomfortable, harrowing truth to hold a mirror up to parents and young adults.

The show holds potential to continue with a sequel season but would reach beyond the scope of the novel to achieve this. While I would love to spend more time in Monet’s Café, and my life would be much more fulfilled knowing a certain someone was rotting in ictional prison, what I want to see more than a part two is a change in our own society. “13 Reasons Why” shows us the stories of the stigmas we face everyday, and without fear, stands under a spotlight no one has been willing to turn on before.

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Photo Courtesy of KMTV

After last week’s primary, Health Mello and incumbent Jean Stothert advanced to the May 9 general election with Mello trailing just three points behind Stothert.

The Gateway asked a few UNO students for their opinions on Omaha’s mayoral candidates.

“I fully support Heath Mello. He is the only candidate who represents the issues I care most about, like transparency in government and equal human rights across the city. Omaha would improve greatly under the changes Mello wants to bring to our community. He also has first-hand experiences and works with members of the Omaha area constantly. #MelloForMayor”
Kamrin Baker
“Jean Stothert: Chant it with me: ‘Eight. Million. Dollar. Surplus.’”
Eric Velander
“Stothert has consistently managed a budget surplus since taking office and has improved the Omaha Police Department substantially.  She has also managed the various labor unions well. Bad labor contracts had our city in a major pickle not too long ago.  Simply put, Mello has not made a good case for removing a competent incumbent. Therefore, Stothert has my vote.”
Andrew Bartholet
“I support Heath Mello for mayor of Omaha. Heath Mello truly cares about the livelihood of Omaha citizens. He will work hard to create jobs, repair the city’s infrastructure, build safer neighborhoods and collaborate across party lines to make Omaha’s government more innovative,transparent and accountable. Students interested in volunteering can be directed to he at hmello.com /get-involved .”
Trevor Harlow

Photo Courtesy of Kamrin Baker

Kamrin Baker
CONTRIBUTOR

Artist Watie White’s studio was devoid of people; just loose pencils, rough drafts and an old “bassador”—part basset hound, part Labrador—who wanted nothing to do with the stranger who just walked in.

White entered the William Street building, thrilled to show off his art and discuss his passions. White, who has called Omaha home for 10 years, works with all kinds of media. Whether using watercolors, woodcuts or traditional paintings, he balances his time and effort between “selfish” studio art and public art collaborations with nonprofits in the community.

A tree house is in the backyard of his studio for his 10-year-old daughters, Eloise, and 14-year-old son Simon, in which to reside while he works on his current project: 100 woodcut portraits of Omaha residents to be displayed as eight foot tall murals in the city.

“I want to honor people by telling their stories,” White said. “The only caveat of this project is that I’m the only straight, white male who will be involved with it.”

White’s inspiration for this project came from the climate surrounding the recent election and the cultural divide that exists in America—and Omaha. He simultaneously produces public work for Omaha Healthy Kids and serves on the board of Bemis Contemporary Art and the Omaha Creative Institute, which will assist as his fiscal partner for the installation of these portraits.

“Everything is a balance for me,” White said. “Whether I’m deciding to paint or woodcut, the idea comes before the medium. I am here to serve the idea as an artist and my job is to live as genuinely and intentionally as I can.”

White, who lived in Chicago prior to coming to the Big O, said he found Omaha has the same problems as a big city, but since they are on a smaller scale, they become more fixable.

“Art makes a greater impact when you put it in an area or neighborhood where people don’t usually get to see art,” White said. “More specifically, I want to make art for people who don’t usually see art about them.”

White said his work transformed over the course of the 2016 presidential election as he saw people saying and doing things he felt were wrong and hateful.

“I watched a xenophobic, sexist, racist man embarrass the country,” White said. “And then he won. But watching that, as an artist, it means I can’t stop. I have to pursue my work, or else I quit being an artist. And that’s not an option.”

The people who model for these portraits are individuals White knows from the community, who themselves are making an impact in their own fields. He invites them to his studio to dress and look exactly how they choose, and he does the framing and posing.

White said he initially had a fear that he would unintentionally seem like he was manipulating his artistic subjects to make a “quick buck,” so he made it a point to make this project all about the people of Omaha who may feel underrepresented and under attack in the current political landscape.

“My work has to have meaning and purpose,” White said. “At least the public art stuff. I have this firm belief that everyone I meet carries within them an amazing, transcendent story. I want to broadcast other voices and not do the talking for them. I want to find organizations I love and serve them in the best way I possibly can. The standard I set for myself is that after I make art, the people it influences have to walk away with an unexpected benefit. I want them walking away feeling like they stole more than they left behind.”

Aside from his current endeavors, White has created prints for the Heath Mello mayoral campaign, as well as the Omaha Star and multiple local galleries. His art can be found at his website, watiewhite.com, during a studio visit or in traveling show.

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Photo Courtesy of Kamrin Baker

Kamrin Baker
CONTRIBUTOR

In 1899, New York’s newsboys went on strike against Joseph Pulitzer’s unfair treatment and payment plan, advocating for child laborers across NYC. This prompted many cultural phenomena: Disney’s Newsies musical, for example, and DC Comics’s Newsboy Legion.

In 2014, I signed on to write for the teen section of the Huffington Post. I entered an unpaid position where I had the freedom to write practically whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. After editorial shifts and my constant growing pains, I began to write at MTV News. Under their young adult Founders platform, I essentially did the same job. However, there were more expectations. Whether the deadlines were stricter or the approved pitches fewer and farther in between, my payment remained a simple byline.

It was not a challenge for me to meet these expectations, but the added work and higher standards typically mean a raise in pay—or at least a cool swag bag.

I am deeply indebted to these platforms for their very existence and advocacy for up-and-coming writers. However, I’ve realized that I was incorrectly taught that I was still “up-and-coming”. The truth is, I’m already a writer. I’ve been a writer from the first day I logged into my 2006 version of Microsoft Word and told stories through a Comic Sans lens. The other truth is, these publications don’t advocate for youth as actively as they like to believe.

While the work platforms like MTV Founders accomplish is deeply important and necessary, the way in which it is executed is disrespectful to its content creators. I cannot speak on behalf of every youth-centered publication, but in my experience and that of many of my peers, our options are extremely limited. To network and publish important stories, it is constantly advised that young adults seek out unpaid internships or blogging positions under large mass media companies. I value the need for a college degree and understand that money does not grow next to kale bushes, but the nonexistence of compensation is unrealistic and flippant.

It’s not greedy for me to ask for more. As told by history, minors and young people have been gypped out of fair working environments since the idea of work emerged. Especially in 2017 when getting a quality education puts the majority of young people thousands of dollars into debt, it is vital to propel our careers in ways that are not only full of passion but full of honest opportunity.

For some outlets like The Odyssey, contributors get small stipends based on page views but are taught to write based on click-bait headlines, which is dangerous to young journalists. I’m optimistic that there are many news and creative platforms for millennial writers and reporters, but they are quiet, underfunded and lack the necessary resources to become legitimate sources.

The MTV News staff recently announced plans to unionize, which I support, but young people with short resumes create content for MTV News. A lot of content. And we don’t get health benefits or any monetary compensation. I’m not even necessarily asking for money at this point, but I do believe there needs to be further acknowledgement and advancement of youth contributors. While editors who live in sweet New York apartments and park their clean cars under LA palm trees get to call this their jobs, student contributors call this their dream.

It is overdue and fundamental for these online media employers to stop taking advantage of young, under-exposed creators. If not monetary gain—which is still extremely necessary– this means more one-on-one work between editors and contributors. If I’m writing for you, I want real discussions regarding my work, instead of quick Google Doc edits. I want invaluable connections, because if my writing is so invaluable to your day-to-day functions, I should be, too.

In a time and political climate where a smart, straightforward and innovative news media is crucial, I would bet on every young writer and reporter first. The future of journalism lay within people like myself and all the other brave, beautiful, brilliant young minds out there.

In the words of the Jack Feldman, lyric writer for Newsies, “Pulitzer may own the world, but he don’t own us.”

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Photo Courtesy of Madyssen Hrlevich

Kamrin Baker
CONTRIBUTOR

Omaha, Nebraska is home to the number one zoo in the world, college baseball’s biggest tournament and the classic Runza sandwich. What residents and visitors may not know, however, is that Omaha is also home to the nation’s fifth largest fashion event: Omaha Fashion Week.

Omaha Fashion Week (OFW) will celebrate its 10-year mark during the 2017 February shows, taking place at the Omaha Design Center Feb. 21-26. General admission tickets run from 40 dollars and go up to much larger VIP packages. Although most tickets, except for a remaining few general admission options, are sold out, OFW holds two fashion weeks each year; one in August and one in February for the separate six-month fashion cycles of Fall and Spring collections.

Designer Madyssen Hrlevich, of Madyssen Jean designs, was chosen to showcase her pieces through the same application process as all other OFW designers.

Hrlevich said applications are open to the general public for each show and based on those entries, applicants are chosen for an interview process. From there, interviewees discuss their designs and future careers and are scored by the judges. The top scores are rewarded a spot in OFW.

“In my collection you are going to see a lot of black, along with this beautiful floral chiffon that I added for a dark feminine touch,” Hrlevich said. “I got inspiration from James Bond aesthetics and broken love.

Embroidered throughout my collection is a story written by a heartbroken girl to a love she romanticized to be true. I got the words from different F. Scott Fitzgerald novels. The story is being told through my strategically chosen models as well as the dark mood used throughout the collection.”

Photo Courtesy of Madyssen Hrlevich

Hrlevich’s upcoming collection is only one of many Fall 2017 designs, to be showcased on Saturday, Feb. 25, but an entire week of themed evenings is planned at the Omaha Design Center.

With a Metropolitan Community College Student Night, Methodist Survivor Show and three separate Designer Showcases, audiences for each red-carpeted event will have the opportunity to mingle and admire with some of Omaha’s most talented.

“Omaha is an unlikely fashion scene,” Hrlevich said. “Attendees are given a high-end event to go to for an average price. They are given the opportunity to mingle and to also dress in extravagant outfits that normally don’t sit well with the general public, which is my favorite part.”

The goal of OFW is to connect area artists and designers within the industry and create a space and a calendar for young people to work in a professional environment. Hrlevich said OFW gives everyone in attendance an opportunity to express oneself creatively through the expression of his or her clothes.

The Sunday following this February’s fashion week will be a free event for the general public to shop the designer collections straight off the runway. After the racks are cleared and the makeup is smudged away, the cycle will start all over again.

Photo Courtesy of Kamrin Baker

Kamrin Baker
CONTRIBUTOR

Patrons came in droves to Benson’s Petshop Art Gallery Saturday night to celebrate local art and women’s rights.

Accessorized with free admission, free condoms, free “nasty women mix” CD’s and free water bottles, the Nasty Women Omaha gallery quickly filled with guests from all walks of life. The only price-stamped items were the pieces of art themselves; all priced $100 or below and made to entirely benefit Voices of Hope, a nonprofit aimed at helping those affected by sexual violence.

The gallery’s small hallways—although echoing constant “excuse me’s”— shared a sentiment of collective anger, frustration and empowerment. Attendees buzzed from piece to piece, some depicting fear and anger in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency, others focused more on a level of pure girl power.

According to the event’s Facebook page, the show was a pop-up sister exhibit of Nasty Women exhibitions all over the country, stemming from the original New York City brain child. The Omaha scene was co-organized by artists Nicole Hulstein and Jacquline Smith and quickly gained traction.

University of Nebraska at Omaha senior Savannah Savick was among interested community members. She showcased and sold some of her prints at the one-night-only event. Her piece, “Bloom” showed a uterus entirely made of flowers and was originally made of colored pencil and acrylic paint.

Photo Courtesy of Kamrin Baker

“Bloom was specifically inspired by a friend who gave me the idea,” Savick said. “I wanted to make uteruses less ugly and alien-like. Everyone kind of hates their uterus and I wanted to make it more happy-looking. I am also planning on adding a penis made of flowers, as well, and the two pieces would be advertised together.”

Savick said she originally saw the event’s Facebook page and wanted to attend but realized she had her own work to contribute. With a simple comment on the social media platform, she was in. Whatever prints did not sell at the show, Savick planned to hang on the UNO campus to spread the message of inclusivity and appreciation.

Along with a personal and political tie to the local art scene, attendees could even make their own art at a table set up with bins of stencils, crayons and markers. This table was a cornerstone collection of small-scale protest posters and a photo op for the artists themselves. Beneath posters that read “My Body, My Choice” and “Maybe It’s Time for Women to be In Charge” was a tower of tampons and sanitary napkins for women in need around the community.

As people shuffled from piece to piece and through doors and corridors, others lined outside at a Beyond BBQ food truck and shook hands with soon-to-be friends. Whether individuals were entering the open house with wide eyes or exiting with hands full, the cool winter air continuously blew through the building’s doors, carrying with it a sweet and seemingly rare resonance: you are welcome here.

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