This summer I am traveling abroad doing research on women architects and their influence on Modern Architecture. My trip was financed by an award I won through the architecture school, the Paul Grootkerk Travel Award, and funds from my Presidential Scholarship. On Monday, I got back from my first location, São Paulo, Brazil, where I was studying three buildings designed by the Italian Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi! I went to Brazil with my girlfriend Bailey, who is doing her honors thesis on the LGBTQ+ experience around the world. She wanted to record some narratives from the LGBTQ+ population in Brazil!
My trip to Brazil was nothing short of amazing. I got to photograph and draw three buildings that I have wanted to see since my freshman year, and Bailey and I discovered a private homeless shelter for LGBTQ youth that we are hoping to help through fundraisers in MSU’s LGBTQ+ Union!
As far as the architecture of São Paulo is concerned, my favorite part of the trip was MASP (Museu de Arte De São Paulo). It is my favorite art museum of all time. While we were there, they were exhibiting the paintings as the architect, Lina Bo Bardi, originally intended. This means that the paintings were suspended on glass plates, which were anchored to concrete cubes. And these cubes were set in the room, not against the wall, allowing the viewer to walk 360 degrees around the painting or art object. I spent five hours sketching, taking photographs, and simply observing, soaking up as much as possible. In addition, the main gallery of the museum is a block of concrete and glass suspended over a public plaza, creating a signature gathering space on Avenue Paulista for protests, markets, and simply hanging out. Aside from its beauty as a museum, I love this building for the way it gives space back to the community through its footprint, instead of taking it away.
The LGBTQ+ homeless shelter Bailey and I visited was named Casa 1, and it was founded by two guys named Iran and Bruno. It started out as people just sleeping on Iran's couch, but grew into two buildings on a corner in the Bella Vista neighborhood of São Paulo! Casa 1 not only serves as a home for LGBTQ+ youth but a place where the whole community can learn. They hold English classes for people in the neighborhood, and have a library where people can come borrow books on a wide range of topics. They also have art classes for kids, makeup tutorials, and movie nights! Being able to talk to the residents of Casa 1, and Bruno and Iran made me realize how lucky I am to live in Mississippi. Brazil is one of the most dangerous places in the world for LGBTQ+ people, especially transgender individuals. It has the highest rate of transgender murder in the world, and children are frequently kicked out of their homes for being gay. This unfortunately happened to most of the residents of Casa 1, and Bailey recorded some of their stories for her honors thesis. Things are bad for LGBTQ+ people here in Mississippi, but going to Casa 1 made me realize things could be so much worse. It also restored my faith in goodness. Bruno and Iran work tirelessly to help the residents of Casa 1 get their own apartments and jobs. Bruno even goes to local schools and speaks to youth about LGBTQ+ issues, showing kids that it is okay to be different. I hope one day I can go back to Casa 1 and work with Bruno and Iran helping LGBTQ+ people in Brazil!
I am headed to Ireland, France, and Japan soon to continue my architecture research on women architects and their influence on Modern Architecture. While in Ireland I will go to Eileen Grey's archives; while in France I will visit E-1027 designed by Eileen Grey; and while in Japan I will visit Platform 1 Vacation home designed by Kazuyo Sejima. I will be gone the whole month of June, and in each location I will be sketching, taking photographs, and observing the buildings I have chosen to research!