Conversation is Space

Interview: Tanisha Parker

Photography: Sarah Roberts

 

Sara “Ludu” Malinowski invited Sarah and I to her studio at Kitchen, a new coworking space located in the heart of Williamsburg.  Ludu told us stories not only on her artistry but also about living in London, being engaged, and driving cross country with $200.  After settling in downstairs, we began to discuss what goes on in a performer’s head when they go on stage.

When Ludu begins to reminisce on past performances, she gets a faraway look in her eyes as she recalls what it’s like being in the moment.  “When I sing or perform, I have this type of focus that feels out of body.  I’m so present in one given moment because it matters so much to me telling someone else’s story, that it may make other people focus on something for a longer period of time than they normally would.”  Ludu insists that it’s all about passing along a message or posing a question to the audience.  “Someone decided to open their eyes about something and take a look at it, which is something that we don’t usually want to do.”

The experience that Ludu describes reminded Sarah of meditation.  A lot of our friends who perform compared being on stage to meditating.  As a performer, a lot of your craft is being in a single moment, present in front of a live audience.  Your mistakes, as well as your successes, connect you to your peers, whoever is viewing your performance.  However, Ludu mentions the key difference between mediation and what she does.  “Meditation can happen alone in a room, but I cannot do what I do without people.”

Ludu mentions that love is the one thing that remains constant in every story.  “It makes something come alive, when you are truly present with it.  Everyone is vulnerable when it comes to love.”

As the conversation becomes more personal, Ludu suggests that we move into the cuddle room, aptly named for its soft lighting, cushion covered floor, and abundance of pillows.

Ludu was born at Lenox Hill Hospital and lived with her mom on the Upper East Side until she was four.  The pair then moved to New Jersey where they eventually settled in the town of Fair Lawn.  Ludu attended Fair Lawn High School known for it’s strong theater program. “Theatre is huge!  Like $7000 for a chandelier to use in a play, huge.”    In high school, Ludu became obsessed with acting, performing in multiple plays a year.  

After graduation, Ludu went to London to attend LAMDA, the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.  She reflects back on her stay in London which although was brief, obviously played a huge role in the actor she is today.  “We did a cool version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, where the director made us go through this crazy maze just to get on stage.  

“None of the other teachers knew who he was!  So we thought that he was a crazy man who walked in off the street...but he was just new,” Ludu jokes.  Ludu has a great way of allowing her listeners to feel like they are a part of the story.  Several times I imagined myself in her shoes, leaving home to follow my dream, falling in love with a new city, and facing the reality that I would have to leave my dream behind due to financial stress.  “I ran out of money and they told me that my loan didn’t go through because I wasn’t a citizen of the EU.”  She went back home and enrolled in AMDA in New York City.  Ludu was saddened by the vast differences in the two schools.  She states that AMDA was more competitive than its London counterpart and it didn’t allow her to perform in a way that she was comfortable with.  So two weeks later, she left.  

Ludu describes open call auditions as the worst experiences of her life.  “It’s wondering if you should pursue this career, only to go to the worst, most disgusting forum to test if you should continue or not.  I waited for hours and then they lined us all up.  And they just wrote on my resume, “Too fat”, “Gap teeth” or “Messed up teeth”.  They handed me my resume back and I left.  I didn’t perform or sing or anything.”  Ludu opened up a discussion on beauty standards in the entertainment industry and the harsh reality many young people face when venturing out into modeling or acting.  She stresses that there is a lot more room in theater for all kinds of people than industry leaders would have you believe.  There sometimes seems to be this notion that one has to fit into one mold in order to be considered for any career in theater.  “The truth is that there are a million spots...and there are so many people looking for you.

After being discouraged by her open call audition, Ludu made the decision to move to Sante Fe after randomly picking a city off the map.  She drove to New Mexico with her then fiancé and studied Shakespeare for three years.  She even published a book that she still profits from every so often.  Ludu and her fiancé broke off their engagement after struggling to keep up their long distance relationship, which literally drove Ludu away from home.  She packed up her car and what little money she had and drove south to New Orleans, singing for gas money.  She volunteered at farms across the country and saw every national park in the US.  However, she missed performing and decided to go back home.

Ludu moved to Brooklyn where she currently resides.  She performs with the Collective Sex, a storytelling collective of activists bringing people together to talk intimately about a topic that somehow still manages to make people uncomfortable.  She also reenacts Shakespeare from time to time with a group of actors in NYC.  Ludu told us one of her stories at March’s WIP and had the entire audience laughing, crying, and remembering their own stories of past loves.  Check out what Ludu is up to now on her website!

 

 


 

 

 

 

Discussing Sustainability with Sophie

Interview: Christina Gomes
Photography: Sarah Roberts

Meet Sophie Panton—the 23-year-old aspiring designer ready to further sustainability in fashion through her original pieces. Craft and creativity collide in her collection of recycled items bringing trendy designs you’ll find her outfitting. Sophie moved to the United States roughly a year ago. Before catching a flight to her current home in NYC, she spent some time exploring the West coast (ask her about her bike ride from LA to San Francisco!). Originally from New Zealand, she studied marketing & psychology at the University of Otago.

Sophie’s love of creating, namely one-of-a-kind clothing, was passed down from generation to generation. Her grandmother taught her everything from how to make pancakes to how to sew. Sophie cultivated this love throughout her life with strong female figures like her grandmother & mother who she frequently drew inspiration from. She recalls making clothes often, including costumes for her and her friends during her high school years. “I love making clothes, and just creating in general.”

Six months after moving to New York, Sophie watched “The True Cost,” a 2015 documentary outlining the effects of the fashion industry on our environment. A redefining moment for her, Sophie embarked on her journey to make fashion more sustainable.

The fashion industry is one of today’s largest pollutants, second only to oil. Your casual Sunday outfit—a simple t-shirt and comfy pair of jeans—requires more than 5,000 gallons of water to produce. Along with the immense amount of water that goes into fabric-farming, the industry’s pollutants include using pesticides, toxic dyes, and waste from discarded clothes. Consumer demand for cheaper clothing also means many big brands rely on globalization (read: tons of fossil fuels used to transport your high-waisted jeans and crop top). Now that the oft-forgotten process which goes into creating and mass-producing our clothing is being brought to the forefront, designers like Stella McCartney, Eileen Fisher, and our very own Sophie Panton are confident we can reduce our carbon footprint by encouraging more companies to practice accountability through sustainability. Sustainable fashion’s goal is to produce environmentally friendly, socially responsible, and ethically conscious products.

Sophie reminds us that regardless of who you are, your actions can contribute to sustainability. To showcase this, her current project involves refurbishing secondhand men’s clothing into women’s fashion tops. Recycling and reusing is one of the easiest ways to partake in this cause. Acknowledging that sustainable fashion usually comes with higher price-tags than their mass-produced counterparts, Sophie suggests taking a few simple steps with the potential to make a huge difference.

  • Shop at thrift stores. If sustainable brands are out of reach for you, buying secondhand is a great alternative to reducing your carbon footprint. Thrift stores offer tons of vintage items, and are a great way to express your unique style! Chances are you’ll be the only one in the office wearing that outfit, and you’ll save that hard-earned cash.  
  • Be creative. We all want to put our best foot forward, and often times that means finding the perfect outfit. Next time you’re trying to wow the crowd, look through your closet and see if there’s something you already own that you can accessorize or flare-up by thinking outside of the box.
  • Be mindful, be picky. When shopping, always think ahead. Ask yourself how much use you will get out of your purchases. Reduce the clutter in your closet and in our landfills by purchasing timeless pieces and clothes you’re likely to incorporate into multiple outfits.
  • Don’t forget to share! Swapping clothes with friends when possible will give you a limitless wardrobe with limited spending. Think of all the bonding coming your way. :)

Sophie hopes to help change the inaccessibility of sustainable fashion by making environmentally friendly and ethically conscious clothing more affordable. She also plans to utilize her marketing background to spread awareness about the fashion industry's growing sustainability so that companies and consumers alike can contribute to the cause.

Join us at this month’s WIP show to see Sophie’s work and learn more about sustainable fashion!

Finding the Magic

“Fashion should reflect the reality of our lives and the fantasy of our minds.”  -Anna Turner

Interview Tanisha Parker

Photography Sarah Roberts

Anna Turner was required to create a quote for an assignment  while studying at FIT and has since added it to her current online portfolio.  It seems to serve as a constant motivation for the artist and designer as her work is whimsical yet practical, fun yet edgy.  

Anna’s recent collaboration with high end womenswear brand, chikimiki, features ready-to-wear pieces fit for the office or a night out.  Her personality shines through each and every piece with its bold patterns, intricate  beading, and detailed embroidery.  As I spoke to Anna, she meticulously continued to embroider a pair of work coveralls, while telling me what she loves and hates about the fashion industry.  While Anna described her role at chikimiki as “probably the coolest job [she] will get in fashion”, she lamented on the idea that most of the work involved in fashion is not creative at all.  Instead, there is a lot of time spent behind a computer, not to mention office politics and industry decorum.  

Anna focuses her creative energy on her day job at a screen printing shop, while also finding time to work on smaller projects.  One such project is a recent one she began with Lauralyn Renn of NYCuriosities.  The wall hangings are a few examples of the magic that Anna can create using materials that she gathers daily.  Anna credits a college professor as possibly her biggest influence when it comes to her style of embroidery.  “She introduced me to this whole idea of repetitive mark making and contemporary surface design of fabrics.”  Anna incorporates the simple stitching technique into her coveralls and the results are incredible when done on such a large scale.  

Time never seems to stop for Anna as she strives to keep herself busy, having just joined The Sketchbook Project, based at the Brooklyn Art Library.  She is also contemplating several ideas for an art series including one using angelina fibers to make colorful mixed media paintings.  Another, includes her current fascination with embroidering masculine pieces with feminine patterns and designs.  

Anna will be presenting several of her pieces at February’s WIP!  Check out all of her work on her website.