Taking a peak into Not Swell

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For the second straight week, Midwest Coast will be shining a spotlight on Not Swell, a DIY art collective based in Wichita, Kansas. Over 30 photos will be showcased in this gallery, shining a light on Summer Schlotterback, Not Swell’s dedicated member Eva, the atmosphere of a Not Swell mosh, as well as bands Church Tiller and Spring Awakening. This is part of the opening series providing a sneak peek into the collective called Not Swell, as Midwest Coast plans to dig deeper into Wichita for more interviews and features about the artists within the next few months.

Summer Schlotterback, the photographer of this series and a Not Swell member, has given three insightful photos about her personality. Whether she is napping on the lawn or documenting the show of the evening, she is sure to have a beer in hand. Do not let her intensity fool you. Summer is a large supporter of the local music scene in central Kansas and upcoming interviews will provide more context to her role at Not Swell.

Also featured is Not Swell member Eva, who Summer claims to be “a badass bitch if I have ever met one. She looks like a teddy bear but she is not afraid to tell you off. Also being a member of NotSwell, she is dedicated, smart, creative, all in all, a wonderful person to work with and a great person to have as a close friend.”

Church Tiller is an improv band featured in the gallery made up of several Not Swell members. Summer says, “I love them because they don’t have a practice. They are literally just out there having fun with their friends, jamming out and loving every minute of it. There is something very pure about the improv performances that they put on.”

A solid portion of photos was also taken in April 2018 during Not Swell’s Spring Awakening house show at the Swellhaus. The immersive concert featured several Kansas rock groups including black metal band from Northeastern Kansas, April Mist, Lawrence-based emo band Trophy Husband, Wichita rock group Not Cops, Hutchinson’s trash-punk band Deep Throat, and Wichita-based Kiss 2.

Last but not least, throughout the gallery you can find images Summer has taken of Not Swell patrons moshing at various music shows. “Mosh photos are possibly my favorite,” says Summer. “I love the obscurity and the motion. I enjoy watching people let their guard down and move freely. Nobody is worried about all of the insignificant stressors placed on us by society. They are simply moshing, letting out pent-up energy in a way that makes sense to them.”

Sit tight for more photos next week and look out for more interviews from this collective several months down the road.

Wichita, KS is “Not Swell”

 

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For concert-goers in the Kansas City region, Wichita, KS does not come to mind when it comes to discussion about local, DIY music scenes that exist throughout the Midwest. That focus stays close to home, with a strong focus on scenes similar to the Kansas City house show venue Kum-N-Go, the electronic scene that rolls through Niche above Uptown Arts Bar, and the typical college towns that encourage musical exploration like Columbia, MO and Lawrence, KS.

Summer Schlotterback is an active member of a newly developing collective in Wichita, KS named Not Swell. For the next three weeks, concert photography from Summer will be shown to give a brief glimpse into what the collective is up to in Wichita. Through this series of photo galleries, readers will learn more about Summer’s friends who operate within Not Swell, as well as some of the bands who are supported in the local music scene. Summer’s descriptions about the friends and bands she takes photos of give a glimpse into the intimate relationships that create a community like Not Swell.

Not Swell publicly describes themselves as, “an art collective based in Wichita, KS focused on sharing and supporting local artists. We try to collect, print, and distribute art zines in a quarterly issue. We also dabble in screen printing, button making, tape recording/distribution among other things.”

Carson Schneider
“Carson Schneider and I have been friends since the 2nd grade. Even when we were young we knew what we wanted to do. Carson has always been in a band making music and I have always been behind the art. 17 years later after befriending each other, we are still doing the same stuff and we are still doing it together. I think that is really cool.”

King Slug
King Slug is a rock quartet from El Dorado, KS. The 4-piece primarily carries a heavy psych-garage vibe. The group recently release an album in May of 2018 titled Taxidermy Club that features a rather fitting album cover. The band consists of singer Rodney Thomas, lead guitar player Turner Day, percussionist Sutter Woodman and Jay Binks on the bass. The group has been together since 2014 and there are no signs of slowing down now.

Sailor Poon
Austin, TX 5-piece band Sailor Poon recently toured in Wichita, KS recently, making a stop at a Not Swell show. These harsh and loud femmes will send you into a psychedelic spiral anger and passionate expression. “White Male Meltdown” from their last album, B-Sides and Rarities is a joy for people looking to get into the group.

Not Swell
The last photos in this series are Summer’s photos of various Not Swell shows that showcase the weird, intimate, and socially active parts of the collective. To get an overall sense of the vibe of how shows feel and operate, try placing yourself in these photos.

Get ready for more photos about Not Swell through the lens of Summer Schlotterback soon.

Failure is Not an Option for No$kope as He Prepares for Upcoming EP Release

In February 2018, I went to the Haunted Kitchen, a local house-show staple in Lawrence, KS, and enjoyed what is still one of the most enticing and active hip-hop shows promoted by Petri Productions in 2018. On the bill featured up and coming local artists such as Solomon, A’Sean, and Lord Kiyoshi. Also on the bill was No$kope, a Chicago-born Kansas City rap artist who went beyond the call of the duty to interact and entertain the crowd that evening.

Jovon Savage has lived in the Kansas City area for the past 14 years but has only started to release his music within the last year, making him a fresh new face in the vibrant local hip-hop scene. With his first two EPs, the “Jeffrey Jordan” EP and the “Theory of Relativity” EP, you had the ability to witness somebody transition from a normal, everyday person into an eclectic artist that isn’t afraid to open their soul and give you a sneak peek into how they are feeling. This transition was more on the chill side though, touching into the grooves and rhythms already established by the chill-pop craze that has occurred in the underground rap scene.

Below are two of the newest music videos that provide insight into what I mean by eclectic. He is humble enough to know when to have a good time and poke fun at himself (the “Water is Wet” music video proves that point alone). But what is not surprising for those who get to know him is how well he keeps a steady balance of humility and seriousness. Guided by one of the best collaborative crew in the Kansas City area, No$kope’s upcoming EP will be expected to polish his solid chill-pop standing in Kansas City but will also break ground for him with more aggressive, raw material.

Within coming months, listeners will be able to see No$kope go down new, exciting paths with producer Boof Chief (Founder of Alldayyo Studios) and fellow rap artists Nightcrawler and CINQO. Charismatic artists like No$kope have a lot of range, not only in personality but in practice. After making a name for himself in Kansas City as somebody to pay attention to, all eyes are on him as we slowly get more insight on what makes No$kope a person.

Check out the two new promo music videos below for “KNEW THAT” and “Water is Wet.”

 

 

 

 

MK: For many of the new listeners who might not be familiar with you or your work, can you give a brief synopsis of who you are a person or artist before we get deeper in the interview?
NS: What is the deal? My name is No$kope and I represent Kansas City to the fullest. I hail from Chicago, Illinois, where I spent a beautiful 14 years of my life. I moved to Kansas City and the people here adopted me. People here made me the man I am today. So my art represents both cities. If I had to describe the type of music I make, I would say it is edgy. Sometimes my music can get slimy and grimy. Sometimes it is just like, “Wow, he is so vivid in explaining his emotions,” because that is just the Gemini in me. So what I represent are two different spectrums at two different times.

MK:
So you recognize you are a Gemini? In what ways do you feel you can identify with that?
NS: I really do. I really read up [on the zodiac sign]. I cannot say that I am one of those “woke” astrology people because I will only read about Geminis. Like, my brother over here [points over to his brother], he is an Aries so that is supposed to be the Gemini’s best friend because they both have a strong mind. So I relate to that for sure. Geminis want to be a leader. I have always felt that if I was the hardest working person in that group, that group is going to fail. So I am always willing to step up and work and be the leader.

MK:
When did you come to that realization about that with your personality?
NS: It was at a young age. Especially when I came to Kansas City because it was just different. I realized I could work on the business spectrum and I could be a contributing member of society. However, I can also creep on the street of Kansas City with my bros and do dumb shit. I could still be the same dumb kid I was in Chicago.

MK: When did you move to Kansas City, and at what age?
NS: I was born in Chicago. I moved to Kansas City in 2008 or 2009. I was 14 when we moved to Olathe, KS. I went to Blue Valley West High School and it was a big culture shock. I learned a lot from these people here.

MK: 
Where in Chicago where you coming from?
NS: I was coming from South Side.

MK: 
That is a huge difference. What motivated you and your family to come to Olathe?
NS: My pops. He got a job opportunity to move out here. His brother is in Kansas as well so that is the only other family we have out here. He came to Kansas to give me a better life, I guess. I think he ended up losing his job six months after we moved here though. He was a mechanical engineer. Life got was weird for us as a family for a while.

MK:
What was your family structure like?
NS: You know I got my O.G. sister and my O.G. brother. My brother is 34 or 35 years old and he still lives in Chicago. He never left the city and never will. I respect that. My sister is 33 or 34. She was in Chicago most of her life but she moved out here to Kansas. Now it is her and my nephew.

MK: You talk about how it was a huge culture shock and change moving from South Side of Chicago to Olathe, Kansas. Olathe is plain, pristine and super white. How did that make you feel when you were a 14-year-old? What was your thinking and feeling process going through that change?
NS: I wanted to continue to be me but I wanted to fit in. So there was a big…it was uh…I do not know how to describe it. It was a big culture shock. Do I change who I am to fit in or do I continue to be me? That is where my Gemini personality strengthened because I have learned to incorporate both sides.

MK:
What about you and who you wanted to be, did not fit in with everybody else? What was different about you from the situation or scenario?
NS: I am a knucklehead, you know what I am saying? I want to be in class talking shit, I want to be skipping high school and smoking. People were not on that, you know what I am saying? I guess that is what I am about. I love having fun just on a different level. You just do things differently. I go against systems for some reason.

MK:
At first, how do you feel others viewed that?
NS: You know, everyone fears what they do not understand at first and that just translates to a hate and sometimes anger. But later on, they just see who I am and accept it. They let loose and had fun with me.

MK: How did your relationship with your parents vibe during the process of moving from Chicago to Kansas?
NS: It was super weird. When they brought me down here, they were very willing to change who they were so they were forcing me to change who I was. I was like, “No.” Like, you can take someone out of the streets but you cannot take the streets out of that person. We are just now healing, honestly. My music is really the best way for me to express myself. Other than that, I feel people just do not hear what I have to say. Since I started my music, my family and I have been talking. They are really happy that I am just motivated and doing something. Now we have common ground, you know? My family supports this because of how motivated I am.

MK: When did the moment that you knew that this was an art form that you wanted to chase hit you?
NS: I had been writing lyrics forever but something hit me when I graduated high school. I was discouraged by the scene. For example, everyone was into Lil’ Wayne when I graduated in 2013. Then, I linked up with my boy Joe (aka Nightcrawler), who is someone I make music with now. We went to high school together and we were best friends. He was in a similar situation to me, family wise. He came here from Jacksonville, Florida, which is the hood, you know? So now we tell our story together now.

MK: You both experienced a similar cultural transition from one city to another, which was super drastic. Maybe you could both operate on the same plain because of similar thought processes that pull from the same experiences? Interesting. You have two new promo singles that are going to promote an upcoming EP that you have. Is this the first time you have gone through the motions of making promo singles and music videos for the EP? Let us talk about that because it is something new and different. The music video process can be a little intimidating for some. What was your experience of putting that together?

NS: I had already put out two little EPs formerly, the “Jeffrey Jordan” EP and the “Theory of Relativity” EP. The “Jeffrey Jordan ” EP was to let people know, “Hey, I am here I am doing this well.” With the “Theory of Relativity” EP, I was starting to do shows and get some spins. This upcoming EP is my big boy. Now it is time to get some more attention. I am thinking Kansas City and bigger. I want eyes on me to recognize the talent. I want people to recognize my brother’s talent and all the team members around me. Yeah, it is a little intimidating but I have never met a challenge I could not face.

MK: When you face challenges of all types, business, personal, friendships and etc., what goes through your mind and how do you cope with the challenge?
NS: I know it is always going to get better. I see the finish line and I visualize it. I do not see the word, “No.” I do not see the outcome where I do not succeed.

MK: So these are the first two music videos that you have made. What was that like to go through? What was going through your head during the production process?
NS: I was thinking, “This is great. I need these videos and I am very excited that this is happening.” Those words were what was going through my head the entire time. I am an absolute entertainer until the end. I love to make people laugh, smile and dance. People are going to do all of that when they watch these videos. The generation now loves to be visually stimulated. They need to see cool shit and I have nothing but cool shit to show everyone.

MK: Overall, for you, as a local Kansas City artist who is trying to spread your wings, how important is the music video towards you and your identity?
NS: It is incredibly important. It is very important for the brand because people hear my music and they are liking it. But they do not know me. I think the video digs deeper into your personality. That is something people will want to hop onto. That is what I want the people to see.

MK: When it comes to representation, you have an Instagram for people to follow but you will also now have music videos. Both are important to you, your brand identity and who you are as a person. But how are these two mediums different?
NS: You can pose a picture at any time. With a video, you get to dig deeper. You can actually see what I am doing and who I am with. That is great. People will ask, “What is going on? What is the story behind the scenes?”

MK: Your first EP was to show people that you working and active with your music. You were saying, “This is what I am into. I am here.” The second EP was about establishing yourself in the community. You were doing live shows at that time. This upcoming EP is your way of establishing yourself in Kansas City and reaching out to a broader audience outside of the city. In terms of themes and art, what does this EP mean? Like, if your listeners were to treat it as a painting?

NS: This upcoming EP is a major representation of myself, my people and my team. There is a song for every mood. I am a pretty moody person. I do not know why that is. My music represents that. I know there are plenty of people in the world that are going through what I am going through constantly. They are having these emotions and they do not know how to deal with them or know how to express themselves. When they listen to this music, they can say the lyrics with such passion. They will memorize them. I want to touch them so quickly. The beats will make them feel such a way…that is what will represent this EP, like in the same way they can look at a visual piece and be like, “Wow.” They will just melt into that piece of art for a while and just stare at it. That is how it will be with my music. Hopefully, they will play it over and over again for whatever mood they are in. There is something for them.

MK: Imagine you lying in bed at night and it is right before you fall asleep. You are thinking deeply and you are motivated to do this new idea you are thinking about. What is motivating you? What deep inside touches you to the point where, you think, “I know I got to do this because of this.”
NS: I do not want to fail. Failure is not an option in life. I am getting stressed just thinking about failure. That is not someone I want to be, you know? Someone who failed. The fear of failure makes me hungry.

MK: Do you have that fear under control or balanced in your life? Sometimes, does is it affect you negatively?
NS: I just try to stay focused. I always try to look at the outcomes where I do not fail. I am fighting that fear of failure but telling myself that I am not going to fail. Yes, that can have anxiety with it. Why am I doing this? Am I going to be good enough? But then I reassert myself. I tell myself that my stuff is so different and that people like it. I am coming from a new approach.

Be sure to keep your eyes and ears open for No$kope’s upcoming EP, which will release later in 2018.

 

Shades of Brown Around Rebeka Pech Moguel

Note: Mason Kilpatrick, the author of the article, is employed by Charlotte Street Foundation as the Marketing + Communications Manager, which is discussed in the article.

Amongst all of the suits, briefcases and professional jargon you encounter on a daily visit to downtown Kansas City’s Town Pavilion, you will occasionally run into an artist carrying a bag of art supplies, various recycled materials and maybe even some homemakers tools. This is because a very unique and rare community exists within the tall and intimidating structure of Town Pavilion, a building mostly known for its professional purposes and strong association with businesses like Bank Midwest and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Within the confines of Town Pavilion and tucked away on the building’s sixth floor (placed next to the building’s exercise gym for tenants) is Charlotte Street Foundation’s Studio Residency. Every year, 30 artists are selected into the program for at least 1 year in residency that comes with free space, 24/7 access, a community of artists for you to collaborate with, social media promotion, and networking opportunities on a local and national scale. Artists range from dancers, musicians and theater performers to installation artists, painters, textile-makers, and sculpturers. This constant turnover of such a large and creative pool will almost guarantee that you will meet somebody whose work peaks interest.

One of the current studio residents is Rebeka Pech Moguel, a photographer who is currently focusing on craft-based work (specifically with embroidery). At first glance, Rebeka fits the typical stereotype of what you would expect from a young and up-and-coming artist: spent a majority of their developing years in Kansas City, attended the Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI), and also works contracting gigs for locally respected institutions like The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

However, through multiple conversations and analysis of her recent work, I knew there was something that I could identify with in Rebeka over other peers in her similar situation: her recognization of Mexican-American influence and her sense of being an “other” within a culture and community that is already othered by larger forces and communities that exist. As a first-generation Mexican-American artist, Rebeka could share plenty of experiences that can be archived for daily empathetic decision-making and thought.

I walk through the maze of artist studios on Town Pavilion’s hidden sixth floor and walk into Rebeka’s space, which has salmon pink walls and is covered with photos and fabric. Old carpet lines the floor but is smothered with various materials that Rebeka uses consistently in her daily practice, including a hot glue gun, scissors, construction paper, plastic bags, and fast food wrappers. I assume the food wrappers were for her stomach and not for her upcoming exhibition at the Spiva Arts Center on June 30th.

I sit on the floor criss-cross applesauce, right next to Rebeka. We both are exhausted from working our day jobs and are still gauging to see what each other’s moods are. Behind Rebeka’s goofy smile is always a strong confidence that can also be found in her work. However, despite the confidence, there is usually a nervous uneasiness when Rebeka attempts to respond to questions regarding her craft. Luckily in this exchange, our conversation for the evening is calm and reflective.

Mason Kilpatrick: Rebeka, what do you currently do?

Rebeka Pech Moguel: I work at The Nelson-Atkins where I do independent contract work for now. That work is in the lighting department but I have also done exhibition prep as well. I am also a senior editor for the Informality Blog, which is a website for critical writing about the KC arts.

MK: How long have you been practicing your art and what forms of art do you currently practice in?

RPM: I guess I started in high school. I graduated from the photography department at KCAI and I also studied art history as well. I am photo-based but I have been incorporating different mediums over the last couple of years. I make my own backgrounds and I usually paint them. I am also using felt. I’ve also begun to embroider and I love printmaking.

MK: In a previous discussion with me, you were talking about how your parents had recently moved to America from Mexico a few years before you were born. Could you describe your parents and what specifically motivated them to move to America?

RPM: My parents were both accountants in Mexico. They are from Chiapas, which is all the way south near the border next to Guatemala. My dad worked for this coffee company and there was some trouble there. My mom was not working at the time we moved here. My father came to America looking for a job and six months later, my mom and sisters followed in 1992. They moved to Wichita, KS where they knew my mom’s cousin. Claudia, my oldest sister, was eight years old when the family moved to Wichita and Adriana, my middle sister, was four years old. The family then moved to Kansas City in 1994. By the time the family moved to KC, I was already two years old.

My dad has worked many different jobs since. Once he was working maintenance at a building we all lived in. It was government housing for old people. The apartments were located in Midtown, by the CVS Pharmacy on the corner of 39th Street and Main Street. That was weird because all of our neighbors were older. There was an old couple that lived next to us and would hear us entering or leaving our home. Every time they heard us, they would come out into the hallway and talk to us. The man would sometimes just come out in his boxers.

MK: Wait, what? What would this couple say? Just some dude would come out in his boxers and say, “Hey, how is your day?”

RPM: They would just talk. One time he came out and told us that is was his birthday and that he liked peach pie…so my sister ended up making him a peach pie. Another time, this old couple made us a cake but we did not eat it because there was a cockroach leg sticking out of it.

My father also worked as a house painter. He recently got his residency two years ago and now he has a job at a warehouse where they ship out sportswear. My mom has been working for the same guy who owns the warehouse and she cleans houses.

When my father came here, he came with a visa. When my mother and sisters came over separately (with visas), they were accompanied by two other girls. Those two other girls were currently in the process of getting their citizenship and came over illegally. My mom could apply for residency but she would have to go back to Mexico for seven to eight years.

MK: I imagine that is something your family does not want to go through, right?

RPM: It is a funny thing because she wants to go back and see all of her family. All of our family is in Mexico. She wants to see everyone but going back, financially, would be hard. She would not have the same job there as here, as housekeeping is much better in America. She also has not worked in accounting for years. My sisters are with DACA so they couldn’t see my mom and go back. It would just be my dad and me.

MK: Do you go back and see your family in Mexico consistently?

RPM: I have only visited twice. The first time I was fourteen in the summer of 2008. I went with other family members and we drove for five days. It was a unique experience. I was seeing people I only ever talked with on the phone. Two years ago, in the December of 2016, I went with my dad. That was significant because that was his first time coming back since leaving Mexico. It took us three planes to get there, which was expensive.

MK: There is a lot of removal of culture and identity happening in regards to your family as they live in America. Especially for your parents, who are living away from all of their family in Mexico. Do they ever talk about how hard that is for them or that makes them feel? In America, if I wanted to see my grandmother, I just have to drive three hours to see her. We take that for granted here.

RPM: They used to talk about how hard it was. They wish they could go back and see family. They even discussed moving back to live with family in Mexico. But they would want to be able to see the sisters and me. But my sisters cannot go back. When I went back with my father, we realized how different it was. It was a bittersweet experience for my father to go back and see his family. However, he went back and saw how his town had changed drastically. Storefronts and homes had moved. He literally got lost the first morning we were there in the capital of Chiapas.

MK: Of the three sisters, the older two were born in Mexico. You were born in Kansas. Has that contributed to the family dynamic and relationship between you and your sisters?

RPM: I am not sure how it affected them directly but long term, there have been times where I know I feel bad that I have opportunities they do not have. All three of us are close. But for instance, I was able to go to Mexico with my dad two years ago. One of my sisters not seen that family in twenty-five years. They do not have the choice to travel and see loved ones like I do. For college, I was able to go and get scholarships. When my older sister, Claudia, went to college, she had to pay full tuition because she could not apply for government scholarships or grants. It was hard for her to pay off school. After a few years, she was able to find a private sponsor but tuition was still expensive.

My middle sister was unable to finish college. She wanted to be a social worker. She had to intern with a government institution but she could not do that and she was not able to finish her degree. This makes me feel guilty. I know this is not my fault but it is still something I feel.

MK: How does this guilt influence the decisions you make on a daily basis? Or even through the art that you make? When you think back on these experiences, is it just guilt you feel?

RPM: Yeah, it is mostly guilt. I have never ignored an opportunity because of the guilt though. I was able to do a residency in Iceland last year and I was able to travel a little bit in Europe as well. I know my sisters were living vicariously through me because they do not have to those opportunities. I feel like I need to be conscious around them.

MK: Previously, before the interview, we were talking about the sense of “otherness,” and how you feel that currently with you being brown in this current political atmosphere. You were also talking about how there are multiple levels of otherness. For example, your sisters were born in Mexico and you were not. Even in that cultural context, you are an “other.” And when you go back to Mexico and see family, you still feel a detachment from that culture. When did you start feeling this way and noticing this sense of otherness? Have you been feeling this a kid?

RPM: I remember feeling this as a kid. At the school I went to, there were only two Latinx students at any given time in my class. I went to a small private school in Shawnee Mission so this school was not big. I remember being asked, “How do you say this in Spanish?” I was asked questions like this all of the time. I knew I was different right from the bat and it was even harder for me when I noticed that all the kids were from Lenexa and I was from Westport. I was on a different socioeconomic level from all of my peers. I also remember, when I was a young kid, I was with my mom’s friend. My mom’s friend was looking at little sombrero key chains and she bought both of my sisters a keychain. However, she did not get me one and she told me, “I am not getting one for you, you are not Mexican.” She said it as a joke but even as a kid I remember thinking, “Oh yeah, I am not like them.” My father was always an advocate for me though and he would proudly claim that I am Mexican. However…there are those who would not agree.

MK: How often do you think of the keychain experience?

RPM: I think of it every now and then, especially if I am talking to people about experiences of being different. I consider myself a person of color and to many I am. However, to other people of color, they place me aside and say, ”You go over there.”

MK: Like, if we had to visualize this otherness, if we had you on a scale, you wouldn’t be considered far left as a Mexican. But you also are not far right as an American. You are in this murky middle. Does this lead to any other feeling or sensation you have?

RPM: You are right, sometimes I find myself in the middle. At the time I noticed this, I felt very isolated. At an early age, I felt the difference and I knew that me being born here was that difference. But I did not know why it was a significant factor. Now, I know who I am and I am okay with this. Growing up, it was unsettling.

MK: Taking all of this into account, how do you feel about your life now?

RPM: I feel pretty okay. With the current political state, like with DACA, it is stressful. I am not in the program but my sisters are. It is scary. My biggest fear growing up was the deportation of my parents. When I was really young, it seemed like it could happen. After a few years, my fear for that calmed down. However, within the last year, those fears have heightened again over the transportation of my family.

MK: What does it mean when you say “heightened?” What does heightened fear look like and how does this affect your daily experience? I ask this because there are people who don’t ever have to feel this or live like this so they might not understand.

RPM: I think this started when the current president was elected. I remember my older sister freaking out about it. She would call and we talk about her feelings. She would feed me all of her anxieties and worries. At first, I was chill. As I spoke with my sister more, the more anxiety I felt. Now, mostly whenever there is extensive talk on the news, I get anxious over this. I think about this for my sisters. When I listen to NPR in the car, I will have to turn it off when the broadcast starts talking about Trump’s immigration policies sometimes. We have had all this talk for so long with no big changes. This has been such a long conversation and the uncertainty of not knowing is anxiety-inducing. It is a guessing game. The fear comes from the talk of family and friends who have experienced deportation. It is harder to hear how my friend’s cousin got deported compared to what I hear on the news.

MK: You recently graduated from KCAI last year and you are currently transitioning from student life to full-adulthood. Has this transition been as scary as you thought it would be? Has this transition period been rough for you?

RPM: It has been scary. I am currently living at home and saving up my money. Part of the transition has hit me personally because I still have my family close to me.

MK: Your early artwork started with photography, yes?

RPM: I began to take photos in eighth grade. My parents gave both of my sisters a photo camera in eighth grade so I received one at that age. My older sister received this gift because she was going on a class trip and my family wanted her to take pictures. Since then, my parents gave each sibling a camera at the same age.

MK: So was your early photography what motivated you to go to art school? Did you go to KCAI for photography?

RPM: Part of the reason for my focus on photography was that I felt stronger about my photography skill than my skills in other media. I still had classes in other departments so I could learn other mediums and processes. This gave me more confidence in myself.

MK: What are some of the common themes that we can find in your work?

RPM: You can find a lot of self-portraits in my photography. These portraits portray me as something or someone else. The first time I attempted this, I had taken a photograph of myself in the guise of La Virgen de Guadalupe? My self-portraits started there and I have been developing my craft based on this idea for a while now. This has also spread into my other practices too. For example, I am currently embroidering my hand. I snapped a photo of this and now I am embroidering myself from that photo. I am also embroidering an old photo of my face as well but that is a long-term project.

MK: So first you started with photography but what other mediums do you experiment with now, besides embroidery?

RPM: Lately, I have been working on creating my own backgrounds for my photography. I try this with every photo now. I also did some experimentation with foam core pieces that I photographed. At the end of the day, it all starts or ends with my photography. With my embroidery, it is different from my photography because of my family practice. My mother and grandmother taught and influenced my embroidery practice. This is how I tie my personal history with my photography.

Embroidery, for me, is meditative, though I do not like using that word. It helps me relax and keep calm. I am stitching continuously and the motion keeps me busy. I really enjoy the physical action of embroidery.  When it comes to photography, most of my images are constructed and prepared beforehand. Hardly do I just snap a photo. I think of these prepared images daily through my various experiences. One memory or experience will lead me down a rabbit hole of memories. A lot of my images are heavily influenced by memories of my youth, which does not surprise me because old photos of my family surround my life and studio. My work is very reminiscent, much like my family photos. I plan on working towards an immersive installation that people can relate to or discover in terms of my life experience.

You can check out Rebeka Pech Moguel’s work at the Spiva Arts Center in Joplin, MO from June 30th through August 11th.

Indoors

In the month of April, The Standing Desk will showcase four pieces under the “April Flowers” series from Liz James. This is the fourth and final installment of the four works.

indoors

Indoors

I can’t keep us alive inside
Stagnant air and artificial sun
Dancing with death in the dark

We never tried to be out
Always in
Defined by doors
That never opened

You withered
Shrinking smaller to accommodate
Losing water
Spilling soil
paler
more frail
Taken like a cancer
You never belonged where I kept you

You let me contain you
But you deserved the earth
You should have let the wind take you
Maybe the rain would never have come
At least you would have seen the sun

 

liz_james_poetry_kansasLiz James is a 23-year-old poet from Kansas. Their poetry revolves mostly around themes of self-discovery and plant life. They self-published a zine, ‘Rehab for Caffeine Addicts’ in 2015, and have been a featured reader for the Taproom Poetry Series and KU’s Undergraduate Reading Series, which they directed from 2015 until 2017. Liz’s favorite flowers are cornflowers and anemones.

Get Ready to be Spooked

Unsolved mysteries, paranormal phenomenon, the psyche of a sociopathic killer, for many people there is something intrinsically fascinating about the ghoulish and ghastly. This is why horror films are a billion dollar industry and authors like Stephen King and Dean Koontz continually sit at the top of the best-seller list. So it only makes sense that some of the most popular podcasts today such as Serial and Last Podcast On the Left would be crime and paranormal related. Recently, I had a chance to talk with Katlyn Conroy, host of one of the newest shows in this genre Creep Quest, to get to the heart of her interest in the subject and what podcasting means to her.

creep_quest_podcast_2

JW: Explain what the premise of your podcast is for those who are unfamiliar?
KC: Creep Quest is a true crime/horror/mystery podcast that explores various subjects that are either current or have ties to current times. We theorize on the cases and then follow up as the information progresses.

JW: How did the origin of the podcast come about?
KC: Chris and I are both big fans of podcasts and specifically True Crime podcasts so it just started as us wanting to do something that we both were already very interested in, but we definitely wanted to give it a twist that was a bit different. I mean, we basically spend most of our time talking about this stuff anyway, so why not record it?

JW: What drew you guys to themes of the macabre and paranormal?
KC: I have always been a huge fan of horror films and Chris and I have bonded over the fact that we spent a lot of our time in high-school looking up the Wikipedias of different serial killers and dark themes like that. I think we were both a bit relieved to learn that it was more normal than we thought and that we were not actually psychopaths.

JW: What are some upcoming episode topics that we should expect in the coming months?
KC: We are going to try and give a lot of variety in the episodes we present, so expect new twists to old cases, alien shit, interdimensional travel, tips on surviving a serial killer, and much more. We also have the variable of if any big case happens like the first episode we did on Peter Madsen which is an incredibly fascinating case that is already progressing faster than we thought it would initially.

JQ: Do you have any podcasts you would recommend? It doesn’t have to be about mysteries.
KC: We would definitely suggest Last Podcast on the Left since I would say that was one of our biggest influences, for other subjects some of my favorites are how did this get made where comedians talk about terrible films and also sex and other human activities which is a great podcast about both sexual issues and mental health.

JW: For you, what is the most important aspect of podcasting culturally?
KC: I think that listening to people speak definitely accesses a different part of our brains then say watching films with as much visual queue or just listening to music so I am all for expanding your mind in different ways. I also think that podcasts are great for people who have social anxiety because you really do feel that you’re part of that conversation a bit.

JW: Do you have anything else you would like to add before we wrap this up?
KC: Definitely give us a try and any feedback positive or negative is very welcome. So this is a podcast geared toward people with specific interest, we hope to bridge the gap and bring a different kind of listener in as well. We want our episodes to be informational, entertaining, and thought-provoking. Forever Creepy and Always Questing!

Early Harvest

In the month of April, The Standing Desk will showcase four pieces under the “April Flowers” series from Liz James. This is the third installment of the four works. Look out for an interview with Liz James soon!

Liz_James_Poetry_Early_Harvest

Early Harvest

Ultraviolet undergarments
meant to attract
Mutual Benefit
Symbiotic favors returned
but the little white dress on top
is so appealing.

Plucked from the street
Flighted highway
Unimagined colors flash
like air traffic control
Lighted cones to signal
a landing strip
Uncharged & ready for contact.

You were [apprehended]
by groping hands.
Clumsy fingers extending
from eyes blind to your
intricate symbiosis

Potential partners buzz past
and watch
at a [thousand] frames per second
Following other lights.

 

liz_james_poetry_kansasLiz James is a 23-year-old poet from Kansas. Their poetry revolves mostly around themes of self-discovery and plant life. They self-published a zine, ‘Rehab for Caffeine Addicts’ in 2015, and have been a featured reader for the Taproom Poetry Series and KU’s Undergraduate Reading Series, which they directed from 2015 until 2017. Liz’s favorite flowers are cornflowers and anemones.

Helianthus

In the month of April, The Standing Desk will showcase four pieces under the “April Flowers” series from Liz James. This is the second installment of the four works.


Helianthus

Helianthus_Liz_James_poetry

I waited all winter for the yellow to return
for the sun and forsythia and dandelion.
The daffodils look nicer against the snow,
though I know they’re dying.
Seasons are not to be trusted despite grade school promise
of easy quarted timespans.
The yellow arrives to contend with grey,
but clouds will always obscure the sun first.
The daffodils bow to the ground like emus with their heads in the sand. Their heads curled inward and stamens embedded in snow rather than reaching toward the warmth.
My brother drives me around again
because I can’t get behind a wheel anymore.
I try to play upbeat music so he won’t know I’m so sad,
but the lyrics give me away,
and the air turns thick
like the wrinkled leather water of contaminated river under the bridge.
Suddenly I understand that nothing truly ends or disappears
Zero is an imaginary number and forgetting is a parlor trick where the memory steps out from the trap door after the audience has clapped and left their seats.

 

liz_james_poetry_kansasLiz James is a 23-year-old poet from Kansas. Their poetry revolves mostly around themes of self-discovery and plant life. They self-published a zine, ‘Rehab for Caffeine Addicts’ in 2015, and have been a featured reader for the Taproom Poetry Series and KU’s Undergraduate Reading Series, which they directed from 2015 until 2017. Liz’s favorite flowers are cornflowers and anemones.

Hometown

In the month of April, The Standing Desk will showcase four pieces under the “April Flowers” series from Liz James. This is the first installment of the four works. Look out for an interview with Liz James soon!

 

Hometown
Liz_James_poetry_hometown

The bridge home has two sides. In the middle is a large, disappearing, and yonic-shaped arrow pointing toward the town. A great gap over the river, or nothingness, conversely. On one end is the town, and on the other: the non-town. The favored side features a view of rock art and the abandoned mall, and the woods where we climbed trees to pick berries, where friends did drugs in junior high, and we set off fireworks on the other days in July.

On the west is the side where I always forget lays another sidewalk. The side with no rocks, and with roads of no bridges, even though I’ve never seen the river’s end. It’s the side where we took your dog and let her off the leash to run around. Where we found what might have been a dog or maybe a cat in the water. That side of the bridge is where I attended a funeral in earnest for the first time.

The town is divided into quadrants, but only three of them have grocery stores.

South is where I hosted the party that began the ending of most of my friendships. Where my compass points so eagerly, so stuck in traumatic past that I mistake it for North.

East is where I had my first kisses.

West was never mine, but it was home and North doesn’t have a grocery store.

The directions feel detached from greater meaning and I fear I’ll never leave this tiny town. North leads not to Canada, but to my little house with thin walls and dusty floors where I can hear my neighbors as if they were yelling beside me in the shower. West is not toward Colorado, but to the farthest deliveries; fifteen minutes away. The town is a snow globe with a great arching cover that keeps the tiny glittered confetti of snow and sleet and leaves inside and me too.

When I drive across the bridge, I forget the water beneath me.

 

liz_james_poetry_kansasLiz James is a 23-year-old poet from Kansas. Their poetry revolves mostly around themes of self-discovery and plant life. They self-published a zine, ‘Rehab for Caffeine Addicts’ in 2015, and have been a featured reader for the Taproom Poetry Series and KU’s Undergraduate Reading Series, which they directed from 2015 until 2017. Liz’s favorite flowers are cornflowers and anemones.

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