The Community at the Olivetree ReviewA look at Hunter’s literary and art magazine
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There are sounds of a party emanating from Thomas Hunter 212. There is laughter, music, and the bump and tussle of what can only be dancing. The “Olivetree Review” is celebrating not only the realization that the room is indeed theirs, but the release of their 50th issue.
Established in 1983, the student-run magazine is Hunter College’s literary and art magazine for undergraduate students. Their issues print once a semester and feature student submitted works, which run the gamut of poetry, short stories, photography, paintings and more. But the Olivetree Review is more than just a magazine: it’s an arts community.
“We’re a group of people who are here everyday. It’s a fun atmosphere,” said Senior Art Editor Caroline Salvayon.
Their recent open mic night on April 19 is just an example of this open community. With its gender-bending themes, the night was filled with spoken word poetry, belly dancing, musical jazz performances, and even hip hop dance. The artists made light of the theme, with many men dressed in lingerie while women sported thick mustaches made from eyeliner. The theme, which dealt with the deconstruction of gender, was designed to support LGBT and women’s rights, as well the continued push for gender-neutral bathrooms at Hunter. The evening ended with free empanadas, cupcakes, and fair trade chocolate provided by the magazine.
“We have the open mic events because it can be intimidating to do something for the first time at a club, bookstore, or cafe. Here, people are surrounded by their peers, so it makes it a lot easier,” said Jennifer Jade Yeung, who is the managing editor for the “Olivetree Review.”
Every semester, the “Olivetree Review” receives hundreds of submissions from students. Always trying to keep up with the ever-changing trends of modern and popular art, Salvayon introduced new methods for editors selecting artwork.
She believed the “Olivetree Review” to have featured a disproportionate number of photography submissions to literary submissions in the past. However, she recognizes that not every visual artist has access to a good camera or photography skills.
“We’re branching out. If you’re a sculptor or a painter we want to hear from you! We’ll send a photographer to take pictures of your work,” said Salvayon during their release party, as students began to trickle into the clubroom.
The group is constantly trying to attract new artists, no matter their stripe, by hosting a variety of events throughout the semester. Spring 2012 events have included free henna painting, free movie screenings of films such as “Howl” and “Frieda,” and student workshops. The art and writing workshops offer a no-pressure environment for students to work on ideas. One of the more valuable aspects is that these peer driven meetings help students revise their work and improve upon their skills.
“We’ve gone to classrooms and contacted teachers to get the word out,” said Salvayon. “We want people to know who we are and get involved because our door is always open.”
The current issue features 33 different submissions. Some are intimately revealing, such as Seong Im Hong’s “Fly On the Wall”, which chronicles her first inkling that she might not be like most girls. Many of the art pieces seem like they’ve been borrowed from the latest art magazines. Justine Cristle Gilbuena’s “Dreaming Is My Reality” is a particular highlight, as she deftly shows the subject sneaking back into reality from her dreamworld. Each piece has something different and exciting to offer, so students are sure to find something that’ll appeal to them.
Christine Fabro, the photographer who took the picture “Contemplation,” was overjoyed that her hard work had finally paid off. Fabro, who took the picture
in Five Points, Queens, was excited to have her artwork published. “This is a wonderful place where we can express ourselves in whatever way we want,” said the bubbly undergrad.
As a student organization, the “Olivetree Review” needs students to survive. So give them your art. All of it. Who knows, you might just get published.