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globe logo     Caravan: Newsletter of the Alliance for a Responsible and United World
Number 6 August 2000

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bulletASSEMBLY 2000-2001
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bulletThe Artist
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The Artist:
Alexandra Leff (New York)

photo of Alexandra LeffWe had arrived in New York the day before, Pradeep Sebastian, (correspondent for Caravan for Southern India) coming from Bangalore, and myself from Barcelona. We were discussing preparation for the next edition of Caravan, when Alexandra arrived. We had been exchanging ideas and impressions, hoping to find a common thread to tie together the next issue. We were talking at once about the theme of global governance that we had chosen to cover, about the Millennium Forum that we were to participate in the next day in the General Assembly room of the United Nations, about the fascination that people the world over have for this city and its incredible cosmopolitan nature, about the city's role as the bastion of modernism during the twentieth century, which it continues to play, for better or for worse...

Alexandra is the one who gave us the key. She had barely been seated with us five minutes when she presented us with her idea for illustrating the next cover. Her artistic language drew up the synthesis that we were searching for between the diverse analyses and ideas that would be making up the next issue.

Her idea was to do a series of portraits of women and men living in New York. She would talk with them about the challenge of multiculturalism in the 21st century. She would offer an image of a plural world by choosing a variety of faces, all coming from different communities of the city.

And so it came to be decided that, far from the rhetorical discourses on the advantages and disadvantages of globalisation that one hears in international conferences, it would be through the lives of individuals that we would touch on the theme of the need for understanding between peoples. The piece as a whole would demonstrate how unity in diversity operates in daily coexistence, through a sort of complicated alchemy.

No-one was better placed than Alexandra to undertake this work. She was born in New York City and grew up in an artistic family, always encouraged to explore the cultural richness and diversity of her city. A graduate in cultural anthropology, she has always included art in her activities. Today she works in the field of artistic education.


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"New York is inside of me"

New York is inside of me
It holds a piece of everything I know
A raging mix of good and bad
A fire that rocks the dark to light

A gritty current of danger, excitement, passion and calm
Twisted together in a disjointed whole
Where all misfits fit

It is the whisper of lingering steps on pavement
A richness of hearts, colors and cultures
Beating to the rhythm of the street
Sheltered by towering buildings
Inspired by the rattle of the subway
Comforted by the chatter rising from bars and restaurants,
living rooms and passing cars
Soothed by a wet paper bag at the curb
A yellow balloon rising into the clouds
Inspired by the freshness of roses along a brownstone fence

Humbled by old men playing cards on a hot front stoop
Baking in the slowness of the morning
Watching the wistful play of children on swings
Kicking their dreams into the sky

Under endless scaffolding of texture and form
The city shakes and rides through the lives that create it
Darkness lifting shadows from the light
Light sifting darkness into its wave

New York gives me all the choices
The struggles to climb above and the missteps that change my course
A place to grow into the deepest part of me
Embracing the world to find myself

Alexandra Leff, August 2000

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Cover Profiles

chart of cover art
  1. Gina was born in Huvei Province in central China. She came to the United States to pursue her education and a career in business, and has lived in New York City for the past year and a half.
  2. Rod is originally from southern California and came to New York City after graduating from college. He is an actor and visual artist, and works in the field of arts education with public school students.
  3. Gabriela was born and raised in New York City, and works in the film and television industry. She and her husband are expecting a baby later this year.
  4. Jose grew up in Miami, Florida and moved to New York City in 1997 to pursue a career in film. He is a writer, director and photographer.
  5. Hilary grew up in New York City and currently resides in Brooklyn with her 3 cats and 2 dogs. She is a massage therapist.
  6. Stanley has lived and worked in New York City for many years. He works in the field of publishing, and enjoys the cultural and entertainment opportunities of the city.
  7. Barbara was raised in New York City and has lived there for most of her life. Most recently, she has been working in the wardrobe field for television and film.
  8. Irwing was born in Ecuador and came to New York in 1982. He is a business manager for a French perfume company and lives in Gramercy Park.
  9. Dora came to New York City a few years ago from the southeast United States. She loves being close to her family and friends.

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© 2000 Alliance for a Responsible and United World. All rights reserved. Last updated October 21, 2000.