April 13, 2015

From Volunteer to Student: An Inside Look at Make-Up of the Femme Fatale

As a WICE Volunteer, Brandi Lunn tells us about her experience of switching hats from Visual Arts Program Director to student in one of WICE's Make-Up courses.

Visual Arts Director
Brandi Lunn
My original purpose of joining WICE was to meet people. I was new to the city and without much of a social circle and I had yet to master the French language. When I stumbled upon WICE, I had hoped that it would offer me an opportunity to make some new friends and speak English amongst them.

At the time (I joined WICE at the end of April 2014), many of the courses were winding down for the summer. While I was jotting down ideas of classes that I hoped to take in the fall, I noticed Volunteer section and sent in an application and hoped for the best.

Photo by Brandi Lunn
What many potential volunteers may not know is that the path to securing a role within WICE is a long one. Once your application is received you attend an orientation meeting. Next, you meet with the Director of the department you’re interested in volunteering with. Finally you meet with the rest of the team to learn more about the responsibilities of the role and how your skills will compliment the organization. By the time you’re officially crowned ‘New Volunteer’ you’ll have already met a large number of amazing colleagues along the way. You’ll also be so busy excitedly exploring the facets of the role and getting down to work that your original dreams of taking a course at WICE seems to fade away… at least that’s what happened to me.

April 6, 2015

Guest Blogger Series: Learn How to Make the Most of Picturesque Paris

As part of its Guest Blogger Series, WICE welcomes Member and Volunteer Isabella Grepp to share her experience in the Cultural Studies Department’s Online Communications Workshop series.

I was invited to spend an afternoon with one of our newest courses here at WICE, the “Smart Devices as Tools of Creative Expression” series. From these seminars, participants discover how to maximize the use of their smart phone and its camera.

Living in a foreign country is a special experience, something to remember throughout a lifetime.

My great aunt lived in a large number of countries during her younger years. Today, she is close 90 years old, but she still tell us tales of being an ambassador’s wife in places such as Libya, Hong Kong, Nigeria and many more. What if she had the same opportunity of sharing her special moments and beautiful views as we do today? To think of how many of those beautiful memories would be lost forever the day she is no longer with us!

In today's technological society, we have the option to capture that beautiful sunrise we see through our Parisian window every morning; instantly capture a once-in-a-lifetime moment you pass on the street; even share our everyday lunch! What is even more amazing is that we can instantly share them with our loved ones we left back home, and they can share familiar moments of their lives. Today, we are lucky in that we don't lose our memories and what we loved.

The problem many of us have is that all this new technology is still quite foreign to us. It’s a jungle of different phones out there, all with many different functions and applications; and having to dig into and learn all this can see quite daunting.

This is where Nancy Jochimek and Alastair Arthur come in. Nancy has a long background in communications, including social media, public relations and branding. She is a strong believer in the new ways of communication and wants to help people learn how easy it can be to share their memories using everyday tools. Alastair Arthur is a world-renowned portrait photographer and his work has been featured on the front page of Fuji X magazine. Armed with knowledge in both photography technology and art, together, they form a strong team.

We started the course by meeting at the WICE Office in the 15th, close to metro La Motte Picquet Grenelle. We were a decent size group composed of all different nationalities and time spent in Paris. It is quite funny and different to see my classmates with their phones in their hands, as it is usually something that is forbidden in class. But in Nancy and Alastair’s class, it is all about the phone. We go through all the different functions of Instagram – the filters, their names and how they can be used. “What was the best funcion of ‘Earlybird’ again?”

Alastair then presents us the challenges of the day: He has made a 4-level challenge, where only the truly brave will reach level four.
1. Take a selfie with a creative touch.
2. Take a photo of someone else
3. Take a candid street photo of someone else
4. Ask to take a street portrait of a stranger.

We then exchange numbers as we plan on splitting up into two groups – one for a more general overview with Nancy and one more advanced together with Alastair. But first we head over to the metro and travel to the famous Bir Hakeim bridge. It is a grey and windy day and we wander across the bridge together, taking many photos of both the surroundings and ourselves. Selfies are a must at a location like this!

After half an hour we eventually split up into smaller groups of five, where I tag along with Alastair and the other lovely ladies. We walk across the bridge to Passy, where you have beautiful architectural views of homes as well as over the Eiffel Tower and the Seine. Here we met a professional photographer and he was happy to stand model for us as he worked. We also experimented with different angles and shapes of photos as a way to capture what we want to show the most in a picture.

As our ears started to turn red from the cold wind, we slowly started to walk back towards the 15th and Beaugrenelle. On our way there we passed the tiny Île aux Cygnes and The Statue of Liberty.
We met the other group at a café and discussed our photos of the day. Over tea and coffee, we shared what we had learned of the different photo editing apps you can download to your phone . Alastair recommended Snapseed and Tinttype. The first is a version of Photoshop, made for smartphones by Google, and can help you edit your photos in more ways than Instagram on its own. The later imparts a vintage feel to your photographs, making them more personalized.

Overall it was a great day and the students took many beautiful photos, most of which can be seen on Instagram under #wiceparis. There will probably be another workshop series starting again before the summer. They’re not to be missed!

March 30, 2015

This Spring, get a glimpse into the Beehive

WICE has earned the reputation for exemplary, professional classes held at a collegiate level, and rightly so!  We spoke with Jan Olsson, an instructor in the WICE Visual Arts Department, to highlight one of our many gifted instructors, as well as provide a glimpse into their lives outside the classroom!

"You just play," she tells me.  Armed with flowers, feathers, linen, or old scraps of clothing, students gather around the "Queen Bee," Jan's printing press, like children on Christmas morning.  "It's a fun process because you never know what's going to happen on the press.  Everyone gathers around it and holds their breath when we peel back the paper to reveal the finished product," Jan Olsson informs me as we stand peering at Queen Bee inside her studio at La Ruche.

In French, "La Ruche" simply means "Beehive."  Over time, more than 100 other studios were built to resemble it.  What sets apart this hive from the others is its maker: La Ruche was designed by Gustave Eiffel.  This artist's colony is a circular structure, three levels high with 24 studios that take the shape of wedges. 

March 27, 2015

Creating Travel Journals - an Inside Look

Daniel Smith, WICE's Director of Programs, has switched hats and shares his experience as a WICE student in Jan Olsson's course Creating Travel Journals.   In his own words, Daniel give us an inside look at this drawing class:

How I learned to make mistakes and gained creativity in my Travel Journal

Image by Daniel Smith

When I bought my first Travel Journal, Sketchbook or Carnet de Voyage, I marveled at the white, empty pages of heavy paper that begged to be written with a fountain pen and thick black ink. Although I had been living in Paris for several years, my dream was to sit in a corner café with a travel book and write, sketch and capture the moment for all to experience.

Image by Daniel Smith
At our first class of a half dozen WICE Members and our WICE Instructor, artist Jan Olsson, we learned to test our pens and markers on scratch paper. Using scissors we cut patterns of our lines and circles to glue onto pages. We wrote descriptions and stories of life in Paris. “Hey, this is easy,” I said; there was no drawing or complexities.

Based on a demonstration by Jan, I could not wait to buy markers of black, gray and light gray to create the illusion of distance and depth. Once I found the markers, I started a Paris city-scape on the inside cover and facing first page.  Easy. Just as Jan explained I used dark in the foreground and lighter greys in the middle and background and quickly my city-scape was finished! But when I turned the page, to my horror, I realized that the ink had bled through the first page onto the second. My new travel journal was already permanently ruined.

March 24, 2015

A New Take on 'Spring Cleaning'

Here are a few questions for anyone who is reading this post: Have you downloaded a program and lived to regret it? Does your computer seem to have a mind of its own, behaving in ways you don’t want? When you do a search, are you taken to irrelevant websites? Has you search engine changed without your permission? Are extraneous tool bars or pop-ups appearing on your desktop?

Paul Lewis’s 3-part class aims to help you take back control of your computer through a series of sessions that will help you “Spring Clean Your Machine.” While some classes offered by WICE are designed to inspire creativity or to increase appreciation for the culture around us, Paul Lewis describes his classes as ‘practical’; “The sessions are designed to help anyone who owns a computer but does not have a technical background,” he explains. (Most of us, then!) Do not, however, let the mention of technology and practicality sway you from what promises to be not only an informative and incredibly useful course, but also a chance to learn from a man who has taken his knowledge of computers to a few countries around the world and has many an interesting tale from doing so.

March 13, 2015

Film Classes... coming soon to the WICE office!

Paris When It Flickers
A 3 Part Film class given by Vincent Fournols

As anyone with an interest in films will know, Paris, with its iconic scenery and winding streets, has played host to a huge variety of film since the first films were created. Where better to learn more about these films and the importance of the city in the industry’s development than from within the winding streets themselves?
Over the course of the first two sessions, Vincent will explore the part that Paris has played in the film industry since it began. He will discuss the influence that the city has had in the world of politics and art and will use movie clips to illustrate his lecture.
Having given these two classes before, this time round Vincent has added to his repertoire by turning up the tempo for a 3rd class on musicals. Musical lovers might be surprised to hear that there are in fact great French musical films… Vincent will elaborate!
And here is what the man himself has to say about his classes:

March 7, 2015

Make It Happen: International Women's Day 2015

The first time I personally heard of International Women’s Day (IWD) was in my twenty-second year of life.  After researching it, I realized how dire the situation was – a holiday this important should not go ignored!  This is the time to uphold women’s achievements, recognize challenges, and focus greater attention on women’s rights and gender equality to mobilize all people to do their part.  United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon summed up recently what has been published time and time again: “When we unleash the power of women, we can secure the future for all.”

Each year IWD is celebrated on March 8.  The first was held in 1911, and we’ve come a long way since.  In 2015, thousands of events occur to mark the economic, political, and social achievements of women – organizations, governments, charities, educational institutions, women’s groups, corporations, and the media celebrate the day.  There are many ways to get involved on an individual basis as well.  There are social media trends (Twitter hashtag, anyone?) and local events, such as movie showings and parades.  You can sport the colors – purple, by the way – or just have a simple conversation with someone about the importance of this day.