Alumni Working Together to Bring Human Connections Through Art

06/24/2019

About two years ago, Alexander Waldman ’10, Andrea Abtahi ’10, and Michael Kenton ’10 were celebrating a fellow alumnus’ birthday.

“We were at the party talking about what we were doing in our professional lives and realized we had an opportunity to take creative roles in our own hands,” said Alexander. 

That opportunity was a grant application at the Electric Forest Music Festival, an eight-day, two-weekend, music event that brings together music, art, and over 45,000 people. The festival offers artists money and manpower to realize an applicant’s vision for the festival.


At the time, Alexander was working in film and television, “which is something I had wanted to do since I was in fifth grade and became involved with for the first time at Pine Crest,” said Alexander. “Most of the time my work was to help the production of the project, so I did not get to make creative decisions. The work was rewarding but frustrating.”

Andrea was also working in the television and film industry on post production. “My work focused on making commercials and music videos.” She was also looking for a way to exercise more creativity.


Michael developed his taste for creative expression as a radio DJ playing electronic music as a student at Northwestern. “What I like about electronic music is that it is complemented by visual elements,” said Michael. “Later, I was working in a cognition lab as an engineer studying cross modal perception - how senses of light and sound make experiences. I was captivated by this idea. Alexander and I love the visual that describes what you hear in music and so we got involved with the Northwestern Battle of the DJs and ran the lights for the show. That started our desire for creating visual experiences.”

While that desire was there, it would still be a few years before they would launch Monos Menos Manos, or M3. 

M3 is an “art collective focused on creating experiential art that involves technology,” said Alexander. “What we create is more than a painting or piece you look at, we cultivate an experience around each piece we create. We involve technology in a way that brings something new or unexpected but without being ‘techy.’”

“We like to use newer ideas to try to bring something to the table that hasn’t been seen before - create new experiences and show people that technology isn’t just something that lives in your pocket or in a server room somewhere but is a tool to foster human connections and make the world a little more beautiful.”


Recently, M3 received a new member on their team, another Pine Crest alumnus, and younger brother to Alexander, Aric Waldman ’14. A recent graduate from Northwestern with a degree in art theory and practice, “it was a natural segway [to join M3],” said Aric. “Alexander involved me as I was hitting my stride at the Art Department at Northwestern, and it seemed like a great way to showcase art. I am not the most ‘tech forward’ person on the team, but M3 is a way to bring art to people.”

TeamPhoto (1)


When asked what they would like readers to know, Alexander said, “Hire us!” with a short laugh. “But seriously, there are many opportunities to incorporate artfulness in whatever you do. The way a doctor visualizes a problem or diagnosis to explain it - or someone has a product they are trying to introduce, taking a little extra time to think about how you can package that into something easily understood is something I consider art. It’s about fostering a human connection and tapping into something that makes you connect with another person. Whatever you do, do it artfully.”

 

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Read The Magazine: Spring 2019