weekend links: weed art, Kid Rock, Bret Anthony Johnston

Ellie Irons
Ellie Irons

Ellie Irons, Invasive Pigments Grid, New York, NY (2016). Image courtesy Hyperallergic/Goldfinch gallery/Heather Halbert.

Chicago’s Goldfinch gallery is running an art exhibit about weeds. Titled Marginal Green, the collection is all about turning the quotidian “eyesore” plants into centerpieces and bringing into the spotlight the ways in which they are much like the marginalized identities found in human systems. Make a visit before the end of the month to see how the thistle in your mother’s backyard can become a medium to talk about issues like migration, global warming, and environmental contamination. [Hyperallergic]

Dina Nayeri speaks candidly about her new novel, Refuge, which follows the story of an estranged father and his emigrant daughter— not unlike the story of Nayeri and her own father. She explores the tension between feeling tied to one’s homeland and the desire for assimilation (as represented by a particular Iranian spice mix), and also what this cultural divide means for her infant daughter’s generation. [NPR]

Junot Díaz interviews Margaret Atwood to discuss The Handmaid’s Tale’s position in tumultuous political climates since the ’80s, the Bible, the lack of racialization in the recent TV adaptation, and what it means to be a Torontonian icon alongside Drake. [Boston Review]

In Santa Fe is Meow Wolf, a thriving 140-person artist collective that transformed a former bowling alley into a landmark installation, thanks to George R. R. Martin’s investment. The House of Eternal Return, filled with colorful structures and strange productions such as a “Victorian house experiencing rifts in space-time,” continues to be the talk of the art world thanks to its success (and its admission-based commercial model). While many dismiss them as corporate and sensationalist—not art but entertainment—Meow Wolf takes pride in having an alternative way for artists to collaborate and make a living without the traditional art world’s elitist attitudes. [Artsy]

This Tuesday, choreographer Emery LeCrone’s dance company will be opening at New York's Joyce Theater Ballet Festival once again. LeCrone, now with a $25,000 grant and other resources backing her, talks about her initial hesitation to accepting Joyce’s offer since she would be responsible for costs other than the stage, taking the risk of choreographing a new ballet to an original score, and the ballet world’s gender inequality problem. [The New York Times]

SoundCloud announced it was laying off 40 percent of its workforce this week, sending employees and music fans into panic about the fate of the Internet's largest store of mixtapes, DJ sets, and other unofficial, homemade recordings. Some new employees were laid off before their first day of work, leaving them scrambling to reassemble lives they had completely uprooted. Let's hope SoundCloud pulls it together, for the sake of all the up-and-coming musicians out there. [Tech Crunch]

There is a neural network that is programmed to write poetry about specific themes using various poetic forms, but poet Rishi Dastidar wouldn’t call it real poetry—he says that the AI is merely a slave to formal constraints, no matter how skilled it is at producing poems about Brexit in iambic pentameter. Trained on thousands of lines of poetry found online, the AI still tricked some people into thinking its poems were written by a “flesh and blood” poet. [New Scientist]

The Type Directors Club just announced The New York Times typography exhibition, which includes covers of special issues that have come out since the magazine’s 2015 typeface redesign and shows that design and imagery can come together in meaningful ways. Design Director Gail Bichler elaborates on their experimentation with mediums beyond print, such as virtual reality, short films, and online presentations that bring together visual language, sound, and animation. [It’s Nice That]

Kid Rock, rapping rock star and ardent Trump supporter, declared his candidacy for the U.S. Senate on Wednesday. While it’s unclear if his run is legitimate, we’re mentally preparing ourselves for a terrifying Kid Rock vs. Kanye 2020 election. [The New Yorker]

Charlie Brooker, who taught us to fear technology in Black Mirror, is apparently planning on transforming his infamous television series into novellas in “high-tech ‘paper’ format.” As of now, we only know that the written series will be bringing in multiple authors, the way each episode of the show had different directors, and David Barnett of The Guardian has some candidates: literary stars Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, or newcomers in the dystopian science fiction and horror genre, such as Lauren Beukes and Ted Chiang. [The Guardian]

Jennifer Ling Datchuk is a San Antonio-based ceramic artist experimenting with the merging of porcelain, human hair, and other artistic mediums to explore her identity. Her artwork, which is often used to process experiences from her childhood, includes a video in which she plucks out all of her eyebrows while chanting “he loves me, he loves me not,” and a photograph of her with a bowl cut reminiscent of a broken, traditionally Chinese white-and-blue pot. Her solo show, coming this fall with Blue Star Contemporary’s partnership with Trinity University, will further highlight Datchuk’s ability to turn conventional acts and images into something uncomfortable. [Arts and Culture TX]

Bret Anthony Johnston will be the new director of The University of Texas at Austin’s prestigious Michener Center for Writers, and we couldn’t be more excited. It’s good to see a native son fill the role, and now’s as good as time as any for unfamiliar readers to check out his phenomenal debut collection Corpus Christi or his more recent award-winning story “Half of What Atlee Rouse Knows About Horses,” published in the 25th anniversary edition of American Short Fiction. [Austin Chronicle]

—Jae Lee and Sean Redmond