Faced With Humanity

When The House Burns Down

By Rachel Newdorf

Deborah Lash lost everything when she was 8.

Her house burned down leaving her family homeless. With little to no material objects, Lash and her five siblings kept each other company and occupied while their parents dealt with the burden of trying to put their lives back together.

In her new solo-photography exhibit, “When The House Burns Down,” Lash revisited that difficult time and recreated it through photography.

“I’m grateful for this experience. To go back to those places brought back such a powerful memory,” Lash says.

In honor of Black History month, Lash’s exhibit will be displayed in Gallery 123 on the first floor of the Johnson Center. Her photography deals with issues of racism and what it means to be human and create intimate relationships with each other.

Lash, 29, from Fairfax, graduated from Mason in 2006 with a bachelor of arts in Spanish and Latin American Studies and earned her Master of Fine Arts in the fall of last year.

Because that experience was so powerful, she decided in the summer of 2009 to go back with two real-life friends, and recreate the experience.

Featured in her show are seven photographs of two friends, who are about Lash’s age when the fire happened. They are photographed playing in a field with sticks, trying to see if there is change in a Coca-Cola machine, as well as lying down on a sample mattress in a mattress store.

Lash let the models do as they pleased. She gave them very little direction because from her own experience, she had very little to go on while re-building her life after the fire.

“The most beautiful moments come from the unexpected,” Lash said.

Lash is currently working at SoA Print, a print shop located in the Art and Design Building on campus.

“When The House Burns Down” is currently open and runs until March 6.

For more information about the artist and her other works go to deborahlash.com

Mason Alumnus Shines at NFL

Mason Alumnus Shines at NFL

By Rachel Newdorf

The NFL Honors–the NFL’s first award show–will air this Saturday at 9 p.m., with a George Mason University alumnus tied to the project.

Khoi Phan, the designer of the awards show, worked along with art director Mollie Wilkie, project manager Andrew Conde and creative director Shandon Melvin to make this project become a reality.

Speaking about the project, Khoi describes what a “blessing” it was to work with “such a wonderful team.” He’s “proud” to see the project come together as well as having an “amazing advantage” being associated with such a prestigious organization such as the NFL.

Khoi,  26, has worked with the NFL on numerous other projects, such as Madonna’s Super Bowl Halftime ads, as well as Super Bowl XLVI programs and the NFL Military Appreciation Week 2011 program.

Khoi’s national debut this Saturday didn’t come easy. After graduating from George Mason in 2009 with a BFA in Graphic Design, Khoi and a friend, after a two year sabbatical, moved to New York City with “zero years of professional experience” and “just a few internships” which eventually led to designing for Macy’s and other “small jobs designing websites for musicians, photographers and art galleries.”

When Khoi’s “bank account hit $50,” he decided to move home to Fairfax, where he grew up.

” I was extremely disappointed and frustrated,” he says.

But he didn’t give up. Working for his family’s professional soccer academy, HP Elite & Beyond, Khoi rebranded the company resulting in an increase in client base just over a few months.

With his success with his family’s business, Khoi set his sights on creating “Vintage Futbol,” a lifestyle-clothing brand marketed to “soccer specific organizations” and that provided kids with “an identity away from the traditional Nike/Adidas” brands. One investor and three months later, Khoi landed a job at an advertising agency in Rockville, Md. While in Maryland, Khoi worked with various high profile clients, such as Brooks Brothers, VW, the Washington Redskins as well as the Washington Capitals, just to name a few.

Finally, after four months working on Vintage Futbol, on July 7, 2011 Khoi successfully launched the brand and immediately had more than 7,000 visitors to his website, 900 plus Facebook fans and more than 300 followers on Twitter.

Just days after launching Vintage Futbol, Khoi got a call from a representative in the NFL asking if he was interested in working for them up in New York City. As Khoi described his new job, he said that he found himself “relocating to New York City working for one of the largest sports organizations in the world. The NFL, the big time.”

Working on such a big project hasn’t hit the up-and-coming designer yet. Khoi has been with the NFL for almost seven months, and while working on multiple projects simultaneously, the fact that the NFL Honors will be broadcast worldwide still hasn’t registered with him yet. While he is excited, Khoi is still getting everything ready for the big premier and will be happy with the result when the project is done.

With the NFL Honors premiering this Saturday, Khoi has a lot to be thankful for. He attributes a huge part of his inspiration to his friend, Allie Coates who has been there for him through his journey. He does however, not contribute any of his success to luck. “Nothing in life is about chance or luck,” Khoi says. “Every opportunity is created, and with a positive resilient attitude, you can achieve anything you want.”

For more information about Khoi Phan or if you want to check out his blog, go to http://www.khoiphan.com/.