Parisian Perspective

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The oil painting above, depicting a clear-skied Parisian day, is one of many works of art following the linear perspective model. Similar to Masaccio’s Holy Trinity, this painting, which I will refer to as Paris, follows an interconnected grid of non-visible lines meant to pull the viewer’s attention to one specific point. In the case of Paris, the focal point lies near the base of the building just below the Eiffel Tower, which is shown by the outwards placement of the buildings and increasingly wide floor space as you move from the top to the bottom of the piece. In the second picture, you can actually see faint lines carved either into the oil paints themselves, or drawn onto the canvas below that lead to the focal point and may have been used as a reference for proportions and ratios within the painting. This image differs from Holy Trinity because it is non-religious, and shows a bigger emphasis on horizontal lines, as opposed to vertical ones. Additionally, Paris is painted with oil paints on canvas while Holy Trinity was composed of water-based paints on fresco, due to the different purposes they serve. Paris was meant to be sold and moved as a decorative piece, while the permanent fresco of Holy Trinity was meant as a religious statement piece in Santa Maria Novella.

– Natalie, Team Vesta

Walk like an Egyptian

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The statue in the image above was taken in front of an Egyptian restaurant a block away from my high school building in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Similar to the New York Kouros, the statue stands in a trademark Egyptian stance in which the individual has a very rigid posture, flat feet, and arms with clenched fists stuck to their side. I believe the owner of the restaurant wanted this piece, along with the others inside, to look Egyptian so that the overall theme of the store fits with the Egyptian cuisine they specialize in and to have a tied together atmosphere to the location. To me and other potential viewers, the decor looks Egyptian due to the use of gold and darker hues throughout the building. Ancient Egypt was known for being very luxurious and saturated with gold and riches, along with the traditional practices of mummification and use of sarcophaguses in tombs. The picture below shows the inside of the eatery, known as “Mr. Falefel”, where a sarcophagus stands beside the booths that shows a figure adorned with an Egyptian headpiece and various colors. This is different from the Greek view on Egyptians because although the Ancient Egyptian empire was very powerful and wealthy, the Greeks often believed them to be thieves and looked down upon them. As seen in Theocritus Idylls, Praxinoa states “Nowadays no criminal sneaks up to you Egyptian style as you’re walking along and does you a mischief like the tricks those deceitful scoundrels used to play, nasty rascals all as bad as each other, curse the lot of them.” Clearly, the Greeks held a lot of hatred and dislike for the Egyptians who were seen as nothing but lower class individuals. The decorations in the restaurant, however, portray them as classy, wealthy beings worthy of respect and honor, as they are put on display for all who pass by the building to admire.

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Name of location: Mr. Falafel

Address on Google Maps: https://goo.gl/NtR89T

– Natalie, Team Vesta

Discrimination: A universal flaw in society

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While issues related to racism and discrimination are increasingly evident in modern society, individuals aiming to educate the public about the harmful effects of hate are working towards a more ideal, equal living space. In “Troq”, an episode of the popular mid-2000s animated series “Teen Titans”, the Titans assist an alien named Val-Yor on his quest to defeat robot aliens known as the Locrix. Throughout the episode, Val-Yor is seen engaging in friendly interactions with each of the Titans, with the exception of Starfire. Upon their initial meeting, Val-Yor seemed welcoming (and borderline cocky) with the team but hardly acknowledged Starfire, opting to question why the team had “A Tamaranian”. Later in the episode, he repeatedly referred to her by a slew of derogatory names such as “Troq” and “Troqie”, which we later find is equivalent to “Nothing”, or a lack of value of a Tamaranian.

This can easily be compared to the use of racial slurs and derogatory terms today that are used not just to demean individuals, but to group them together and portray them as “other” or people worthy of separation and inferiority, which is not the case. Just this past year alone, we have had hundreds of racially or hate-motivated conflicts ranging from the murders of innocent black people by cops to white supremacist and neo-nazi riots, targeting of LGBTQ+ individuals to revenge reporting of individuals to ICE based solely on appearance rather than legal status, along with other increasingly violent or inappropriate actions that have led to rising tensions between Americans.  People may witness racism, like Starfire’s friends in the episode, and not see or know anything was wrong, which is okay as long as you take the proper steps to educate yourself on the issue and prevent further incidents to the best of your ability. As shown in the clip attached below (follow the link), Cyborg used what he thought was a term of endearment for Starfire, “Troqie”,  but quickly realized his fault and the weight of the word once she explained it had negative connotations and was offensive to her and all Tamaranians.

In Euripides’ Medea, both Jason and Medea fled from Colchis to Corinth to seek refuge after attempting to disconnect themselves from the trouble and bloodshed they left behind in their old city. The nurse speaks of Medea’s travels and wishing she “would not have come to live here on Corinthian soil with her husband and children, winning over the citizens of the country she had come to as a refugee, and obliging Jason in every way.” Unlike Medea, whose travel was seemingly surrounded by death, Starfire brought good to planet Earth and remained a useful member of society. However, both sought refuge from their past, Medea for selfish reasons and interest in wealth and fame, and Starfire after escaping her captors known as the Gordanians after being traded away as a slave by her sister Blackfire. While both were accepted by the people of their new homes, they faced times when foreigners were seen as inferior or less than human, a recurring topic of debate between clans all throughout time.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rc-Jh3Oe0Gc

– Natalie, Team Vesta

Panem: A Greco-Roman empire wannabe

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In the post-apocalyptic setting of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, citizens of the new nation of Panem are divided into one of twelve factions and the “Capitol”. Each faction specializes in a different field ranging from textiles to fishing, grains to coal mining. The setting of the story allows for the exploration of poverty, power, censorship, and wealth in a budding society. Each year, a boy and girl from each district ages 12-18 must be sent to a Roman gladiator style fight to the death known as the Hunger Games while the rest of Panem watches, allowing the President of the new nation to instill fear in those he leads and show them what he pleases. Victors, as well as those in the richer districts, are seen as icons and are showered with fame, money, and increasing notoriety. In the film, a massive party was thrown in the Capitol in Katniss and Peeta’s honor after having won the 74th hunger games. Similar to the upper-class citizens and aristocrats in ancient Greece, victors and wealthy individuals in Panem had a greater influence on society and often had access to privileges that everyone else didn’t. While those living in Katniss’ home district, District 12, were starving and could barely afford a loaf of bread, people in the Capitol would eat till they were full, purge, and eat again simply because they knew there would always be more food available to them. Additionally, children from districts 1, 2, and 4 are trained for the games since birth being that participants are deemed heroes and idealized, much like athletes were in ancient Greece.

In Euripides’ Medea, Medea states “And I share in this fate myself: because I have skills, I suffer the envy of some, and to others I am a rival; But I am not so very clever. And then you are afraid of me. What harm can you suffer from me?” In the text, she is speaking to King Creon about her banishment from Corinth after she vowed to get her revenge on her former husband Jason. In The Hunger Games, Katniss is seen as a rebel to President Snow after she became a symbol of outspokenness and courage among those in Panem, especially after showing her humanity after Rue’s death. In reference to the imbalance of power in the Capitol, President Snow had sought to extinguish any form of individuality and motivation to deter from social norms. Medea was seen as “Quick-tempered” and too open about her anger, leading to several attempts to banish her from the city, though like Katniss, she prevailed and got her revenge.

Video: https://youtu.be/do1smOv8rf4

 

– Natalie, Team Vesta