Off the Wall

‘Off the Wall’

Peter Shaffer once said, “If London is a watercolour, New York is an oil painting.” The playwright’s analogy seems only fitting for somewhere so entirely original, innovative, and home to some of the most exciting arts communities the industry has to offer, including multidisciplinary artist and writer Jo Rosenthal. Or, as she humorously describes herself, “An Oreo cookie wrapped in a house fire.”

Originally Florida-born, Rosenthal now resides in the heart of Chinatown while studying at Parsons University in Greenwich Village. She initially planned to study fashion business, but soon came to the conclusion that, even though a pathway into the fine arts may be a risk, it was where her true passion lay.

“My mom wasn’t too pleased, but my dad was excited because that was what he had wanted to do himself. Eventually they both realised that me making art was a wonderful way to express myself and work through my emotions,” she says. As a self-proclaimed romantic and sensitive soul, Rosenthal uses art as a tool to cope with the trials and tribulations of everyday life, one brush stroke at a time.

From paintings of the body, to break-up poetry, to nipples made of Modroc, there are few mediums the young artist is yet to experiment with. Rosenthal’s website,, also showcases multiple zines she has produced herself as well as those she has been featured in. Multidisciplinary by nature, pieces such as “To Drew”, a raw and vulnerable email to an ex-lover printed on silk, perfectly illustrates her pursuit of human emotional truth, through textiles, print, and prose.

In spite Rosenthal’s tender age of 22 (“and a half,” she’s quick to add), her work has been displayed in multiple galleries across the city. In February last year, she performed spoken word for Bookclub 10 at the Museum of Modern Art where she exposed her innermost intimate experiences in front of hundreds of tourists and art lovers alike.

Her modesty extends to her work, as she makes it very clear that the only validation she needs is from herself. “Making art for yourself is more important than success,” she says. “If you create things for yourself and are proud of them that’s more important than any gallery show or museum exhibition.” With self-acceptance being at the centre of her mind-set, fame and notoriety are not accolades she is in any hurry to obtain.

Although she will always be her sternest critic, a growing online following, including the likes of singer Blood Orange, AKA Dev Hynes, have shown continual support for her artistic endeavours. Armed with a charming wit, relatable woes, and obligatory hipster glasses, Rosenthal uses her online presence to capture hearts in their thousands. With her focus in keeping with themes such as feminism and liberation, activists and creatives have embraced her unconventional yet thought-provoking art.

“It’s okay to be emotional and intimate, [I want] to break down boundaries between artist and viewer,” she says, which she does most strikingly through her monologues, from heart-driven tales of relationships past to self-reflective diary entries. An extract from her piece “Performance B”, where she painted confessions about herself in her underwear, reads, “Don’t kiss me if you don’t mean it […] I’m too romantic, you have the wrong idea.” The wholly personal infrastructure of her work invites viewers into the depths of a mind that isn’t their own. It almost resembles an act of therapy; offloading emotional baggage and serving it up for the world to see. “For me, similar to the physical art that I make, I want my performances to be as honest as possible so I’ll do something along the lines of reading letters I wrote to people that I would never have the courage to actually say to their face.”

As well as the written word, Rosenthal uses classical means of paint and canvas in many of her projects. The key foundation to each piece, she says, are portraits. “I try to find different ways to create portraiture without using someone’s face but simply their essence.” Her conceptual approach isn’t dissimilar to that of her main influences, instillation artists Tracey Emin and Felix Gonzalez-Torres. “They physically broke apart traditions in portraiture. I use it as a springboard to create portraits that do not conform to the figure to show who or what they depict.” In turn, with the freedom to explore every realm of abstract and symbolic art, her style has the ability to be as uncensored and unapologetic as she wishes. She has done this in the form of faceless portraits, pressed flowers, and many more.

As someone who bares all in the name of art, how public is too public? Where do the lines blur between privacy and exhibitionism? With Rosenthal’s career built around displaying the depths of her most treasured and heart-breaking memories, nothing is an overshare. “[I want to] see just how personal I can get with an audience by opening up as much as possible. Through oil paint, performance, and instillation I communicate my journey.” Her official artist’s statement reads. “I want [my audience] to laugh and cry and want more from their overall experience—and in the process, to figure out what being Jo means in the world.”

Living in a world where the term ‘starving artist’ is truer than ever, Rosenthal has seen the bigger picture of the importance of art, and why pursuing it as a career can be mentally rewarding, even if it may not always be economically. “Don’t let anyone bring you down if you are excited and passionate about what you are doing. Who cares if only one person sees it if you feel like you gave your work the justice it deserves?” With a philosophy where personal involvement outweighs income, it’s not surprising that Rosenthal has thrived in New York’s passionate, and competitive artistic landscape.

Now, it’s all well and good being effortlessly marvelous, like Rosenthal clearly is, but for those only just dipping their toes into the daunting pool of unstable salaries, living off ramen noodles, and bearing indelible acrylic paint stains, what is it really like taking the leap to become a professional artist? And in New York of all places? The key is, unsurprisingly, do it because you love it. “As long as I am proud. That’s way more important to me than ever becoming famous,” she says. “If you never try, you’ll never know.


Word Count: 1066


Timeline of Madonna’s 80’s stardom

1978: A star was born

Madonna was born in Louisiana, but soon dropped out of her local high school to pursue her dream of a career in dance in New York City


When releasing her debut single ‘Everybody’, the label reportedly refused to feature Madonna on the cover, as her prime demographic was targeted towards African American listeners.

1983: Debut album

Madonna’s self titled album was released July 27th in 1983, peaking to an impressive No. 8 in 1984 in the charts, The album included hits such as ‘Lucky Star’.

1984: MTV VMAs

Her performance at the VMAs has since been considered a pivotal moment in her career, wearing a now iconic lace dress as she sang ‘Like a Virgin’. The performance was suggestive and controversial, making her fan base growing incredibly fast.

1985: Desperately Seeking Susan

Madonna made her movie debut, starring alongside Rosanna Arquette in Desperately Seeking Susan, playing herself.

1986: True Blue

Her third album was dedicated to her then-husband Sean Pen, which took on mature topics such as pregnancy and heartache.

1989: Like a Prayer

One of Madonna’s most controversial videos to date, receiving hate and bad press for incorporating a heavily present Christian theme of the embodiment of Christ.

Does agriculture affect global warming more than fossil fuels?

Within the US food system, which is one of the most notorious in the word, recent studies have show that up to 12,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere inequivalent a year, which translates to up to 86% of all food-related substances to be greenhouse gas emissions. This amounts to just over 1/3 of the entire greenhouse emissions that are produced by us on earth. This qwarfs the also staggering amount of carbon dioxide released by fossil fuels, which last year racked up to equaling a gargantuan 9.7 billion tonnes. released statistics to forward the idea that agriculture was more of a leading contributor of global warming than the fossil fuel industry: “Fertilizer manufacturing [is the next most common contributor], which releases up to 575 megatonnes, followed by refrigeration, which emits 490 megatonnes. The researchers found that the whole food system released 9,800–16,900 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere in 2008, including indirect emissions from deforestation and land-use changes.”

It has also been disclosed that the manufacturing of the equipment and substances that keep them working such as oils, and pesticides further increase the impact up to between 25% and 30% of the U.S.’s collective carbon footprint. (statistics via

Has Chanel finally reached the 21st century?

Chanel has been, and probably always will be, the most famous, most outlandishly lavish fashion brand of all time. Something about the poise and grace each garment possesses show the craftsmanship and tradition that make it so timeless. The brand have, however, often been criticized about their lack of contemporary vision and ingenuity in their style. This being on the basis that the cuts are outdated, and as a brand, are yet to reach the contemporary inspirations and expansions that other brands have taken on in recent years. And although their show last year attempted to combat such statements, shocking the public with models kitted out in robotic headgear and impish glitter, the disregard for their presence in the industry has often been overshadowed by exclusivity and an unapologetic niche.

With this in mind, critics and fashion enthusiasts alike had been heavily anticipating last week’s Pre-Fall 2017 show, to see just what tricks were up their sleeve. Taking place at the Ritz no less, the star studded event was held on home soil in Paris, with the likes of K-Pop musician G-Dragon and Johnny Depp on the guest list.

With Chanel taking baby steps into the world of unconventional and eccentric clothing, there was by no means an air of psychedelia among the collection, but were by all means some unexpected surprises. You may wondering how on earth a Chanel catwalk show at the Ritz could be capable of being in any way a wacky or new age spectacle – you’re right; it’s damn near impossible. But as the model’s danced through the artfully placed dining tables of guests to the tune of eighties classic ‘Clouds Across the Moon’ by Rah Band, it all felt oddly space age. As if somehow the show was taking place somewhere among the solar system, and outside the guilded windows of the Ritz was Pluto and not Paris. The unrehearsed waves and giggles of the model made the experience an oddly casual one, despite the amount of gold plating the architecture. The music was a pleasant mixture of old and new, creating an entirely contemporary dynamic. The nymph-like charm of Willow Smith sang intimately mid show, with an outspoken rendition of her self-written song November 9th in vein of the recent US Election result. The performance itself was a controversial choice, breaking certain foundations of a brand that was once dedicated to classical elegance and courtliness.

The clothes themselves were even on par with the unique scattiness of the event. Purposefully mismatched outfits made up of modern sportswear trends, to zany metallic silvers zig-zagged through tables, comfortably alongside the brand’s signature tweed skirt suits. The lineup of models showed a refreshingly diverse range of not only ethnicity, but of young talent and starlets. The show stayed particularly loyal to those born from the rockers of yesteryear, with the likes of Lily-Rose Depp, Sophia Richie, and Georgia May Jagger strutting their stuff. One of the most unexpected names of the night was Pharrell Williams, modelling an obscenely expensive Chanel coat down the makeshift runway, giddily greeting his friends in the audience as he went. One of whom even stood to dance and twirl the models as they passed. Undoubtedly, though, the person who stole the show was 7-year-old Hudson Kroenig, offspring of model Brad Kroenig, who is no stranger to the catwalk.

The youth and sporadic construction of the night made me start to believe something exciting was happening to Chanel, and I am proud that it is. Karl Largerfeld’s direction seemed to be built around interaction and playfulness. The spectacle even achieved the seal of approval from fresh faced and oh-so-cool Willow Smith, stating that it was “a whole new type of show”. Accolades such as these not only present a new element of modernity in their branding, but they bode well for an ever growing demographic of fashion conscious and creatively driven millennials.

I don’t think I am alone in believing that perhaps this was the show that truly gave us a glimpse of what the brand have to offer in the future of their identity. A reinvention? It would be highly unlikely, considering the fact that the collection were still very much in keeping with the-well-to-do-woman-about-town-walking-her-poodle aesthetic that they have stayed continually loyal to. However, it was very clear that Chanel have made an impressive and conscious transition into what appeared to be an entirely genius hybrid of fun and, dare I say, experimental edge.