Spirit Fingers


My photo agrees with most other spirit week posts. Our school has so little school spirit, yet the bookstore had these ridiculous “spirit fingers” gloves made…presumably for students to wear at ALL our UMW spirit week events.

I, however, was unaware of any events celebrating last week’s spirit theme. I would love to see spirit like McKenna experienced in Florida, but until then, I think our student’s fingers will remain wholly UNspirited.

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When is a Visual Appropriate? Response.


I’m actually very surprised this poster didn’t bring in more money than $7000, considering the Red Cross’s fundraising reputation. I agree with Palvus; once you know what the poster represents, it becomes a constant reminder of tragedy and sorrow, and is indeed a bit grotesque for living room art. I think the cracks through the “rising sun” are eerie, and the whole poster just kind of creeps me out. I’d rather donate my money straight to the source, and not waste resources on printing a poster I’ll hide in the back of my closet.

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Iwo Jima Reading Handout


Here’s our handout for the Iwo Jima Photo reading for Thursday, March 17th: Iwo Jima Handout

love, Tori and McKenna

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It’s Getting Hot In Here


My mash-up to fight climate change.

A Picture to represent the Freedom Ride Exhibit…


This week’s photo assignment, to find a photo that represents what the Freedom Rides Bus exhibit means to UMW sparked a pretty intense conversation among my classmates. Our in class discussion focused on the university’s desire to market our school as “diverse” and “open-minded,” but ultimately ended in dissatisfaction over the false advertising of Mary Washington.

Rather than focus on the publicity and marketing aspects of the exhibit, I decided to use my photo to highlight the ability of a simple exhibit to create social change. I believe that by installing the exhibit, UMW has sent a message (to students and public viewers alike) that going against the grain to create change you believe in is never wrong. The revolution in Egypt demonstrates the power of young people who are not afraid to speak truth to power, to sacrifice and to demonstrate their commitment to changes that seemed impossible to previous generations.

In the 60’s, our country experienced a revolution, and like Egypt, the fate of the revolution rested with the courage of the nation’s youth. The struggle for civil rights was a struggle for the future of a generation. This is portrayed beautifully in the bus exhibit and inspires me to create change for our generation.

SOTU In Your Own Words


Right after President Barack Obama finished his State of the Union address, NPR asked listeners to describe his speech in three words. They received responses from more than 4,000 people, and ran them through a word cloud generator. My roommates and I submitted the words: Middle, Expectant and Strong.

Here’s what everyone else saw:

We also asked listeners about their political affiliation.

This is how those who identified as Independents saw the speech:

This is how those who identified as Republicans saw the speech:

This is how those who identified as Democrats saw the speech:

State of the Union Response


1) Civil or Subdued? There were fewer standing ovations, and less applause than in past years. Was this because of an air of civility, or was the audience not as responsive? How did this visual play out during the speech.

2) Invited Guests. As expected, there were a number of invited guests in the balcony that were referred to in the speech. Was that effective? Why have them present for the speech?

3) GOP Response. Rep. Ryan gave the GOP response, speaking in the Budget Committee’s Hearing Room. How did the choice of location work in comparison to the President? Were the visuals/location important? How well did he meet the expectations for the response?

1. I didn’t find out that the audience for Obama’s State of the Union was going to be “mixed seating” until right before his speech, and I was ecstatic thinking about what this change could mean for bipartisan progress. I was silly, of course, to think that seating arrangements would make any difference in audience reactions to the president’s speech, and even less of a difference in the actual forward actions of a divided congress. While I was watching I noticed that, as the question states, the audience was much calmer than usual. I really believe that the apparent subdued quality of this year’s audience was a result of their inability to jump into a divided “herd mentality” after each controversial statement. Visually, we are all so used to picking out the “republican” vs. “democrat” side of the House Chamber during the State of the Union based on who is standing after any given statement. But, the lack of divided standing ovations during last night’s speech should not be mistaken for civility.

Even as Obama spoke of bipartisanship, and moving forward despite our differences, opponents in the audience were furiously tweeting against him. One Politico article quotes Representative Paul Broun’s twitter feed from the middle of the SOTU saying, “Mr. President, you don’t believe in the Constitution. You believe in socialism.” Even Boehner, sitting right behind Obama, nodding in agreement, released a “torrent of rapid-response e-mails countering central parts of the speech.”

2. The only significance I see in having special guests present for the SOTU is so the camera can point them out while Obama is praising them in his speech. The Allen brothers, for instance were practically gushing as Obama talked about how they redefined their roofing company to produce solar panels (which is, yeah, pretty cool). From a visual rhetoric perspective, it was a lot more powerful to SEE the small business owners than it would have been to just hear another story of another success story that Obama’s speech writers literally could have pulled from anywhere.

3. Many commentators are pointing out the stark contrast between the values underlying President Obama’s State of the Union Address and Representative Paul Ryan’s Republican response, but I think Ryan’s response was pretty predictable. Comparing the visual effectiveness of Ryan against Obama is a little more difficult simply because Ryan’s response took place in an empty room speaking to a lone camera. The empty seats in the room almost highlight the contrast between the two speechs. He had no one to laugh at [stupid] smoked salmon jokes, or to applaud his party-appropriate statements. I always find it more difficult to present myself when there isn’t a responsive audience.

Additionally, I feel like Ryan was a little overshadowed by the Tea Party. I was watching CNN and almost as soon as Ryan finished speaking, the commentators jumped into analyzing what crazy Michelle Bachmann was going to say in HER rebuttal up next—they even gave her a countdown.

Visually, though Ryan does all the right things. He looks very presidential with his flag pin, ribbon, and party-neutral tie. I don’t think seating him against a backdrop of empty chairs was a great idea because it looks like he doesn’t have any supporters, but overall he looks good.

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A Picture to Define UMW…


When I first read the photo assignment of the week, I was really excited, but as I thought about it more, I realized that my definition of Mary Washington is changing quickly. I decided to take this picture of the entrance of Eagle Landing to describe what I feel is UMW’s current dilemma.

Our school is built on a framework of historical significance; this history can be seen clearly in the old photographs that make up the background collage. UMW and the city of Fredericksburg itself represent a culture rich with history…but with each new megadorm we build and every unnecessary addition to the Master Plan we add, we move further from the UMW we know, and closer to a definition assigned by people we don’t. A solid pictorial definition of our school is difficult to capture because I believe UMW is currently suffering from an identity crisis created by outside pressures and parties.

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A Picture to Define Me…


Hey, I’m Tori Wong, I’m a senior Environmental Communication major gearing up to save the world. I feel that this photo, taken by Michael Drayer, defines me for a number of reasons. Over the past 4 years, I’ve become incredibly involved in the environmental movement: attending hearings, organizing rallies, promoting events on- and off-campus, and spreading the word about sustainable practices around the world.

I love biking, to get around campus or to enjoy a beautiful day, and I almost always have something in the front basket. The items in the basket on the day this photograph was taken really do define who I am and what I want to do with my life. The sticker-plastered nalgene acts as a timeline of my involvement in the environmental movement, and tells a different story with every turn of the bottle. Mountaintop Removal is my biggest issue right now, and the sticker that is turned out facing the camera. The hard hat, which would appear green in a colored photograph, represents the hard work I’ve done and that I hope to continue to do with my post-graduation job at Green Corps, an environmental organizing field school. I received the helmet at my first rally in 2007 and have written the date/cause of every rally I’ve attended since.