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‘Funky’ Web site shares student art

By
Thursday, April 21, 2005

Want to know what funk is? Don’t ask J.D. Nasaw ’08. He knows he loves it, but he just can’t define it.

Luckily, he knows it when he sees it.

Nasaw started BrownFunk.com, an online gallery space displaying photos, writing, drawings, short films and music, with technical help from friend Scott Norton ’08. The site, which describes itself as “a forum for experimenters, students, amateurs and soon-to-be professionals,” also includes news on concerts, films, books and whatever else Nasaw deems “funky.”

Nasaw started Brown Funk to establish an artistic network accessible to his peers so they could share their art and inspire each other. “Seeing people my age do stuff … makes you want to do more,” he said. “It gives you ideas for your own art.”

Sharing your work – and seeing other people’s – challenges you to continually improve, he said.

Tade Abidoye ’08, whose digital photos are on the site, agreed. “It gives you the incentive to do more,” he said. “It definitely helps me see things that are worth taking pictures of.”

“Giving people a voice makes them want to speak,” Norton said.

Brown Funk’s online format makes it particularly flexible and encouraging, Abidoye said. Unlike most campus publications, you can contribute and view people’s work as frequently as you’d like without waiting for the next issue.

Thanks to the site, Abidoye has also gotten some encouraging feedback – a few emails and Thefacebook.com messages – from people who have seen his work.

Nasaw became interested in creating the site last year, when he saw Norton’s personal Web site with his graphic design work. The two met last year after being accepted to Brown.

But the ultimate inspiration for creating the site came from being at Brown, he said.

“People here are so artistic. Everybody here is doing something,” Nasaw said. Many of his friends are talented artists, but he never knew what they were working on, he said.

Nasaw is quick to note that Brown Funk is a work in progress. The site’s operators are considering adding a message board and are always looking for new material and new contributors.

Thus far, most of the artwork currently on display is from Norton and Nasaw or Nasaw’s friends from high school and Brown, and their current recruitment strategies are less than foolproof. “If you bug people enough, they’ll put it up,” Nasaw said.

Currently, work gets posted by e-mailing Nasaw through a link on the site. Nasaw serves as a “filter” – not a “dictator” – in selecting what goes on the Web, he said.

With the exception of a few pieces that weren’t at the “funk level,” Nasaw said he’s open to anything and everything.

“It’s relaxed,” said Norton, who, like Nasaw, is from the San Francisco Bay Area. “This is NorCal.”

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