How a Barnard Magazine cover sparked the imagination of Virginia-based artist Alan Rubin
My refrigerator door bears a miniature collage of my travels: an illustrated postcard of a woman at a market in Majorca is mounted next to a surrealist sketch of the Tokyo skyline. It serves as a daily reminder of worlds beyond my own, which has, in recent weeks, been limited to the confines of my Brooklyn neighborhood.
From mid-February, the first week I started as editor, to now, much has changed at Barnard, in New York City, and around the world. I had imagined that I would be writing this letter — my first for the magazine — in the office that I share with my colleagues inside the Vagelos Alumnae Center in the historic Deanery. Instead, I type these words at a desk in my apartment, as we social distance to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
It has been, well, an unusual immersion into a new job but one that has perhaps given me a unique vantage point. This turn of events has shown me how dedicated and resourceful Barnard’s community of faculty, students, alumnae, and staff truly is. I’ve watched the College think creatively and move with agility, transforming into a virtual campus as professors reimagine course curriculums for online teaching — something you’ll read about in our newly minted Dispatches section. I’ve had the opportunity to work with students as they manage to simultaneously prepare for a completely new learning experience while contributing stories, such as the alumna profile of Jody Simms ’17, by Solby Lim ’22.
From its conception, this issue has been distinctive for reasons beyond the extraordinary circumstances in which it would later be finalized. It marks Barnard Magazine’s first redesign since 2007. We’ve created a more contemporary look and larger framework to better tell the stories of Barnard. There’s plenty to feast your eyes on, such as our recurring “Artist’s Sketchbook” feature, showcasing the creative process of talented alums, like Suze Myers ’16. We’re also introducing new content that highlights Barnard’s breadth of voices, from our First Person series to a humor column, which was written by alumna JiJi Lee ’01.
Like the redesign that shaped the pages of this issue, they are inspired by wanderlust and sharing adventures. And like the collage on my refrigerator door, they will transport you to other places and new experiences. You’ll read about alumna Aliza Goldberg ’14’s 159-day journey across the grueling terrain of the Pacific Crest Trail as she raises money for the International Rescue Committee. And you’ll be awestruck by seasoned traveler Frances Abramowitz ’48, who has ventured around the world, from the sea-lion-filled beaches of the Galápagos Islands to India’s Taj Mahal. There are more local yet equally significant journeys that are covered in these pages, like the story of student commuter Daniela Lebron ’22, who (usually) travels each day from her home in Inwood to the Barnard campus.
During this period of uncertainty, I’ve found that the stories in this magazine serve an important purpose: They inspire and edify, stimulate and delight. As we spend more time in our homes, perhaps these sojourns to far-off destinations come just at the right time, when we need to be reminded of that sense of excitement derived from experiencing the unfamiliar. It is something that surely awaits us in the future, and I have no doubt that intrepid Barnard alums will be the first to journey to a new city or put their hiking boots back on, because that curiosity is simply part of the Barnard DNA.