"There are two books in America: one for the poor and one for the rich. The poor person does a crime, and gets 40 years. A rich person gets a slap on the wrist for the same crime. They say that the poor person doesn’t want to work and the poor person just wants a handout. Well I picked cotton until I was thirteen, left Alabama and got my education in the streets of New York. I drove a long distance truck all my life and never once drew welfare, never once took food stamps either. I sent four kids to college. But they say all poor people do is sit around with a quart of beer. Look in this bag next to me. I’ve got three things in this bag next to me: a Red Bull, a Pepsi, and Draino, because my drain is clogged. But you see, even if I do everything right, I still have to play by the poor book.”
I struck up a conversation with him, and he casually mentioned that he was having trouble adjusting to Columbia, due to his “previous situation.” So I asked him to elaborate.
"I was born in Egypt," he said. "I worked on a farm until 3rd grade with no education. I came to the US for one year, started 4th grade, but was pulled out because my father couldn’t find work and returned to Egypt for a year. The first time I went to an actual school was middle school, but the whole school was in one classroom, and I was working as a delivery boy to help the family. It was illegal for me to be working that young, but I did. When I finally got into high school, my house burned down. We moved into a Red Cross Shelter, and the only way we could live there is if we all worked as volunteers. I got through high school by watching every single video on Khan Academy, and teaching myself everything that I had missed during the last nine years. Eventually I got into Queens College. I went there for two years and I just now transferred to Columbia on a scholarship provided by the New York Housing Association for people who live in the projects. It’s intimidating, because everyone else who goes to Columbia went to the best schools, and have had the best education their entire lives."
Artist Rebecca Stevenson makes stunning wax sculptures which explore various fusions of the living form, both inside and outside. The result is a grotesque yet ethereal vision of surreal dissection with a markedly feminine touch.