34 Things BIMA Participants Say Under Stress

Over the past week BIMA visual arts has been preparing for the final exhibition, and it has been a week full of stress, tears, and most of all, laughter.

Additionally, quite a few things have been said that would seem funny out of context, so I created this list to share with you.

List of things people have said under stress for the BIMA visual arts exhibition
(My reflection for the week: y’all are stressing me out)
Guess who said what!

1) “I’m going insane, I’ve been doing that a lot lately.”

2) “Where did my mitochondria go? No seriously, where did my mitochondria go?”

3) “I don’t like shoeeeessss.”

4) “That looks like a really deformed lemon.”

5) “A really, really messed up carrot-that’s what I’m going with.”

6) “Are you having hallucinations?” “Not yet”

7) “Your painting looks a bit like garlic bread”

8) “It looks like I just came out of the chimney”

9) “Kinda looks like Russia”

10) “Don’t cry!” “Shhhhhh”

11) “I’m a little teapot short and stout….”x500

12) “I’m going crazy” “I was literally born insane” “same”

13) “What’s going on, what are you doing to my baby, my babyyyyy”

14) “This glue is keeping my sanity together, but simultaneously tearing me apart״

15) “It’s freaking cold. Ducks say that all the time!”

16) “You’re arms are so big, you look like a man.”

17) “The subject has entered  the bathroom.”

18) Please walk your bike. “Whatever you say sign”

19) “Maybe I should start blowing up my brain.”

20) “I thought you said “there is clay in my butt”

21) “Your evil fairy is coming to bother you!”

22) “Come look at my baby! It’s gender neutral!”

23) “I played with modeling paste and made brains!”

24) “Oh no! I’m becoming an amputee!”

25) ”What do I do with this screw up right here… Also known as Greg.”

26) “We’ll name it baby harlot!” “My baby’s not a stripper!!!!!!” “Awwww is it our baby?”

27) “Is Wednesday a day?”

28) “At my wedding, I want Hannah to rap and Anat to beatbox.”

29) “How do you draw a mouth on a bird?” “You mean a beak?” “Oh I thought that was the nose!”

30) “Never before have I met someone who does art using basketball drills.”

31) “I really like this wall.”

32) “Oh no! I decapitated it again!”

33.) “This is such a fat baby.”

34.) “I’m sorry, I tried to draw you but instead I drew my dad.”


-Shira M. BIMA Visual Arts

The Importance of Word Choice in Storytelling and Interpretation

In the creative writing ABM, every word counts.

Starting from the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11, we’ve been looking at the different ways in which our words matter—and the decisions we make about the words we use impacts the ways our stories are told and understood by a wider audience. The medium with which we work is not stories, but the very words that make up those stories. They allow us to both process the world as we experience it, and help us imagine the ways in which others experience the world around us.

In our ABM, we’ve developed concrete skills for writing and telling stories. We’ve broken down the story of the Tower of Babel into the different components that make up the narrative, including setting and character. We’ve also used it to tackle more difficult questions, such as how writing can be used to process racism and socioeconomic class, and how different people relate to stories and places differently.

We’ve examined, for example, the ways in which people encounter different places based on their jobs — how might a visitor to the Louvre, for instance, differ in their perceptions of the museum from a security guard who works there every day? How might a worker who helped build the Tower of Babel differ in their perceptions of the tower from a bystander or a farmer watching the tower being built? How might a person living through the building of the tower reflect on the process when compared with their grandchild?

In each of these instances, we’ve looked at the ways words can be used to reflect experiences and inspire empathy. We’ve also looked more deliberately at word choice—how might we not just tell stories from different genres, but with different words? How does meaning change in subtle, yet important, ways? What happens not just when we tell a story by writing it as a piece of prose or poetry, but also when we switch the order of words, or change the words entirely? These, ultimately, are the questions we struggle with in the ABM.


-Ami Altzman

Community Educator, ABM Creative Writing

Breaking Out of Our Literary Shells

It feels impossible to coalesce the Creative Writing major thus far – at least from my perspective as the instructor – in a few paragraphs. Already, I could write a novel grasping, articulating, and highlighting the profound genius I have witnessed in my students’ poetry and prose. Each day feels like a mic drop, another moment when a student writes or shares a thought, idea, or well-crafted piece of writing that has the whole class awed, laughing, or deeply, deeply moved. Each day I look out into an ocean of not only my students, but also one-day colleagues and peers.

An exercise that most stunned myself and our indefatigable, incomparable, and irreplaceable TA Michelle Kats, was this past Wednesday when we learned about and wrote “Hermit Crab” essays. I had no idea what a Hermit Crab essay was until I got to BIMA; one of the students, who was here last year, told me about them, as did Michelle. So I researched and learned: a Hermit Crab essay is a personal essay disguised within the shell of something else – a menu, or an instruction manual, or a letter, a playlist, an obituary, a multiple choice test, etc.

So, on Wednesday, we brainstormed “shells” and types of formats one would not usually consider creative writing. The list was massive and covered the entire chalkboard. Then, we looked at examples, including what the aforementioned student wrote last year in the Creative Writing major. Then, we made a list of five to 10 significant moments or experiences in our lives. Next, we looked up at the chalkboard and began to pair the aforementioned “shells” with three of our life experiences. And then, we wrote. Forty minutes per life experience – we wrote.

I had them eventually pick one that they would be required to share with the class. Thus far, I hadn’t yet required that everyone must share their writing, so a few students had yet to share their brilliant craft. So Wednesday was a special moment and shift. After breaking off into pairs to peer-edit their work (this is one of their favorite things to do – breaking into small groups for peer editing!), they made changes, and read their work aloud.

I was, as I said before, stunned. From the menu of types of boys a student knows at their high school, to a multiple choice test for how to be healthy, to a list of how to take a hike in Israel amidst a siren blast, each and every student – all 13 of them – changed the literary game.


Caroline Rothstein

BIMA Creative Writing Faculty