Entries Tagged as 'Culture on the Hill'

The Mystery of Poppy


Words and photos by Georgia Hickam

“I’m Poppy,” says Poppy. In one of her hundreds of videos on YouTube with 235 million total views, Poppy repeats those two words in childlike monotone for 10 minutes. Poppy and her art and video director, Titanic Sinclair, performed at the Granada as part of her Poppy.Computer tour on Sunday night. She invited all her “Poppy Seeds” to join her in her pastel parallel universe.

The stage screens read “initiating” as Titanic Sinclair, wearing a pink jumpsuit, drank from a pitcher of Kool-Aid and passed around more of the pink liquid to the audience. Though she claims to not be the leader of a cult, Poppy encouraged her followers to prove their love for her by literally “drinking the Kool-aid”, chanting her songs, and endorsing products she claims are her favorite, like Doritos and Monster Energy Drinks.
Wearing her signature long platinum blonde hair and dressed in a tutu and purple dress, Poppy sang songs about falling in love with a computer (Computer Boy), saying “hello” and “goodbye” online (Moshi Moshi), about losing her microphone (Microphone), and making a video (Let’s Make a Video).
Poppy’s songs are intentionally repetitive, simplistic, and empty, and I have become shamefully obsessed with the purest form of bubblegum pop imaginable.
Titanic Sinclair and Poppy’s mission seems to be satirical performance art commenting on how easy it is to become famous in a digital age. They openly mock and copy the things celebrities do to become famous, and Poppy is succeeding in becoming famous for it.
Who is Poppy? Is she real? Is she a robot? Poppy is mysterious. Poppy is abstract. Poppy is and isn’t. All I know is I am fascinated by someone I know nothing about, who might not even exist at all.

The Odd Charm of the Kansas City Renaissance Festival


Words and photos by Caleb Hundelt

In the wooded depths of Bonner Springs, Kansas, hordes of costumed individuals quietly convene once a year to join in an uncanny gathering. People dance and twirl around maypoles in a pagan fashion, women entrance and seduce in garb that glitters and jingles with each sway of their hips, and shouting, bloodthirsty crowds hold violent fights to the death.

Yet this is no new-age hedonistic cult that follows in the footsteps of Roman gladiatorial spectacles: this is the annual Kansas City Renaissance Festival, open September through October to elders and infants alike. Despite its focus on fashions and trends of centuries past, the Festival stands as a socially progressive symbol of Kansas City, creating a place in which artists of peculiar skills and trades can go to throw inhibition to the wind, celebrate their craft, and be celebrated.

There is undoubtedly a period of cultural adjustment that one must undergo to fully enjoy the Renaissance Festival. Upon stepping onto the festival grounds, a wild assortment of sights, sounds, and smells bombards the senses. One can easily become disoriented. The attendees’s costumes range from Tyrion Lannister to Tinkerbell, musical acts range from professional harpists to part-time pirate shanty-ers, and food ranges from charred mutton legs to cheesecake-on-a-stick. Due to the festival’s countless anachronisms, “Renaissance” is a bit of a misnomer; however, this is no reason to view the happenings of the Festival as overtly low-brow or uncultured. Once a moment is taken to accept the Renaissance Festival for the pastiche of eclectic pleasures that it is, then one can begin to recognize the devotion and artistry of those for whom the festival is a way of life.

Take the case of Ginger, for example. On a small sign outside of her artisan stand, “The Bard’s Musik Shoppe,” we learn that Ginger has a degree in acoustical engineering, but rather than apply her unique skills in a traditional career, she chose instead to make wooden folk instruments. The precision and commitment Ginger works with is evident in each glossy golden flute or whistle, but it’s especially present in her saxophones. Ginger plays a few notes with one of her entirely wood-crafted versions of the usually brass instrument, and there is no denying the richness and quality of its sound. She creates irreplaceable art.

This art exists because Ginger and every artist at the Renaissance Festival possess a special trait: they love what they do, and they do it well. In the festival’s choreographed keynote performance, a royal joust between two knights turns into a deadly sword fight. When watching the joust, the initial instinct to laugh is quickly overtaken by total respect for the performers. These men have practiced extensively on horseback and on foot to make every thrust and stab appear realistic. They represent extreme dedication to one’s work, and the crowd joyously recognizes this fact. People playfully respond to the calls for support from the knights, rooting for their favored fighter and jeering at his rival. Any sense of awkward reserve is disregarded; both attendee and artist alike want only to revel in the special and strange glory of the festivities.

But the beauty of the Renaissance Festival is that only an outside perspective would view such events as strange. The citizens of the Kansas City Metro for whom it is beloved know the festival to be nothing more than a gathering of people expressing themselves in a way that is pure, unfiltered, and unapologetically authentic.      

Kansas City Fashion Week S/S ’18


Words by Logan Gossett

Photos by Karsan Turner


Kansas City Fashion Week boasted the largest runway event in Kansas from Oct. 10 to Oct. 14, with nearly five thousand attendees enjoying clothing and cocktails at the events in Kansas City, MO’s Union Station.

Thirty-three designers showcased their collections for Kansas City Fashion Week’s Spring/Summer ‘18 showcase. From the immersively western ornamentation featured in Nokota Style’s Rebel ON collection to the pastel, embellished dresses designed by high school senior Miranda Hanson, high-end fashion found an impressive platform in the Union Station last week.

The Chiefs Style Lounge commenced the runway events on Tuesday. The Kansas City Chiefs – a renowned modeling agency and NFL franchise – provided runway talent during the event’s first half. Alex Smith quarterbacked the modeling core, with Chris Jones sauntering down the runway at the end. Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson also walked the runway, while punter Dustin Colquitt bookended the player lineup with panache, interacting with the crowd and synchronizing his struts with the DJ’s beats.

Participating designers competitively curated Chiefs themed outfits for a cash prize, which was won by Miranda Hanson.




Kansas City Fashion Week Spring/Summer ‘18 was presented by Helzberg Diamonds. A complete list of sponsors can be found here.


Fall Break Is Here!


With fall break comes two things: fall, and a much needed break. Here at Style on the Hill, we offer a third: a playlist.

Enjoy fall break!

Claudia Rankine Provides Commentary On Citizen: An American Lyric’s Message


By Elise Collene

Claudia Rankine Discusses Citizen

On Thursday, September 7, hundreds of KU students and staff bustled into the Lied Center, packing the auditorium and filling every seat. Attendees patiently waited for Claudia Rankine to discuss this year’s KU Common Book, her book “Citizen: An American Lyric.

Chancellor Douglas A. Girod began the ceremony by explaining the history of the Common Book program, which has been connecting students on campus since 2012. Girod discussed how past Common Books have often focused on difficult times and that Rankine’s work “Citizen” is no exception. Focusing on the question, “What does it mean to be a citizen?” “Citizen” dives into what racial aggression looks like in today’s society and what it feels like receive racial aggression. Girod explained that he believes this aggression is relevant in light of what is happening in society today and that it can have extreme effects on a person’s day-to-day life. Consequently, this year’s Common Book was chosen to allow KU students to face these challenges in a constructive manner and allow students who deal with these issues to bond.

I was unsure of what to expect reading “Citizen.” As I began reading, it was difficult to catch on to Rankine’s style of writing. However, once I was in sync with the lyrical flow of her writing, I was intrigued and shocked at some of the stories in the book. “Citizen” is filled with snippets of stories; some are told by family, friends and strangers while others are from news reports or Rankine’s own analysis of different events. Photos, sculptures and other forms of art also line the pages. Rankine brings these elements together to form a unique and powerful piece of poetry. The combination of personal stories and true, documented events allows Rankine to create this piece of literature that is simultaneously formal and intimate. Rankine said she created the book to be “able to be entered without being colored by specific events”. With all of the distinct pieces coming together, her ideas ring clear and readers are left with the stark realization that racism is alive today and manifests in many forms.

When Claudia Rankine finally appeared on the Lied Center’s stage, I was excited to hear what she wanted KU Students to extract from “Citizen”. Rankine discussed the book’s art and how it played a role in the meaning of the book. She discussed in further detail how the art was hand-picked and intentionally placed to uniquely connect with sections of the text. It was interesting to hear directly from the author and compare her intentions to my own thoughts and opinions while reading the book. The art, for me, was the most difficult part of book to interpret, but after her speech, I was left with a better understanding of the novel and how she was able to pull from many different sources, finally merging these contrasting excerpts together to create a beautiful and influential piece of literature.

Before Rankine left the stage, she left the audience with a piece of advice.

“There are all kinds of people and they will help you if you let them,” she said.

Rankine explained that we are unable to carry all of our mistakes in ourselves, so we must find people to help us unpack them. Rankine offers an important message for people of all races, ages, and genders: we are all people and we can help each other if we try.

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