4th Friday 6Pack: Kristina Baker (’16)

Welcome to the latest installment of MFA|EDA’s 4th Friday Alumni 6Pack. This month your Arts & Letters tour guide is Kristina Baker from the Class of 2016. Take it away, Kristina:

After graduating, I moved to Charlotte N.C.

I go to the symphony whenever there are piano performances and have been collecting VHS tapes of old performances I love. Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra, a feature of the 2001 Space Odyssey soundtrack, is an unusual score the Charlotte symphony performed requiring “piano extended technique” where the pianist reaches inside the Steinway concert grand and hand plucks strings. Brahms’ Piano Concerto No.1, Op.15, was written inspired by his friend and mentor Robert Schumann’s suicide attempt where he threw himself off a bridge into the Rhine River driven to insanity by an auditory hallucination of continuous single A note. Glenn Gould’s TV debut with Leonard Bernstein, performing Bach’s Concerto No.1in D minor.  Records of his brilliant performances are disrupted by his humming along to the music over the piano, but on television you only see his mouth moving. Arthur Rubinstein playing my favorite Chopin piece, the Heroic Polonaise Op. 53 on a 1960’s TV show.


I’m working on a film about Morocco, the Sahara and experience concurrency. It looks like Morocco, but I want it to feel like you’re in a house, walking room to room, while a song is playing through the walls.

I’m a Senior User Experience Designer at a big four investment bank.  It’s a combination of cognitive and behavioral psychology with art and experimentation.  I couldn’t have imagined a more rewarding or fascinating field for me and I’ve been lucky to have work I love.


I’ve been painting horses here.


Next month my partner and I are moving to San Francisco, CA.  We have an apartment facing the ocean.  I heard one time that humans are fascinated by fire and the sea because of eternal motion.  If something is moving, it’s alive, so the ocean is our closest feeling to immortality.  I’ve missed the west coast.


The Galilee Hitch-Hiker
By Richard Brautigan

Part 1

Baudelaire was
driving a Model A
across Galilee.
He picked up a
hitch-hiker named
Jesus who had
been standing among
a school of fish,
feeding them
pieces of bread.
‘Where are you
going?’ asked
Jesus, getting
into the front
‘Anywhere, anywhere
out of this world!’
‘I’ll go with you
as far as
said Jesus.
‘I have a
at the carnival
there, and I
must not be

The American Hotel
Part 2

Baudelaire was sitting
in a doorway with a wino
on San Francisco’s skid row.
The wino was a million
years old and could remember
Baudelaire and the wino
were drinking Petri Muscatel.
‘One must always be drunk,’
said Baudelaire.
‘I live in the American Hotel,’
said the wino. ‘And I can
remember dinosaurs.’
‘Be you drunken ceaselessly,’
said Baudelaire.

Part 3

Baudelaire used to come
to our house and watch
me grind coffee.
That was in 1939
and we lived in the slums
of Tacoma.
My mother would put
the coffee beans in the grinder.
I was a child
and would turn the handle,
pretending that it was
a hurdy-gurdy,
and Baudelaire would pretend
that he was a monkey,
hopping up and down
and holding out
a tin cup.

The Flowerburgers
Part 4

Baudelaire opened
up a hamburger stand
in San Francisco,
but he put flowers
between the buns.
People would come in
and say, ‘Give me a
hamburger with plenty
of onions on it.’
Baudelaire would give
them a flowerburger
instead and the people
would say, ‘What kind
of a hamburger stand
is this?’

The Hour of Eternity
Part 5

‘The Chinese
read the time
in the eyes
of cats,’
said Baudelaire
and went into
a jewelry store
on Market Street.
He came out
a few moments
later carrying
a twenty-one
jewel Siamese
cat that he
wore on the
end of a
golden chain.

Salvador Dali
Part 6

‘Are you
or aren’t you
going to eat
your soup,
you bloody odd
cloud merchant?’
Jeanne Duval
hitting Baudelaire
on the back
as he sat
out the window.
Baudelaire was
Then he laughed
like hell,
waving his spoon
in the air
like a wand
changing the room
into a painting
by Salvador
Dali, changing
the room
into a painting
by Van Gogh.

A Baseball Game
Part 7

Baudelaire went
to a baseball game
and bought a hot dog
and lit up a pipe
of opium.
The New York Yankees
were playing
the Detroit Tigers.
In the fourth inning
an angel committed
suicide by jumping
off a low cloud.
The angel landed
on second base,
causing the
whole infield
to crack like
a huge mirror.
The game was
called on
account of

Insane Asylum
Part 8

Baudelaire went
to the insane asylum
disguised as a
He stayed there
for two months
and when he left,
the insane asylum
loved him so much
that it followed
him all over
and Baudelaire
laughed when the
insane asylum
rubbed itself
up against his
leg like a
strange cat.

My Insect Funeral
Part 9

When I was a child
I had a graveyard
where I buried insects
and dead birds under
a rose tree.
I would bury the insects
in tin foil and match boxes.
I would bury the birds
in pieces of red cloth.
It was all very sad
and I would cry
as I scooped the dirt
into their small graves
with a spoon.
Baudelaire would come
and join in
my insect funerals,
saying little prayers
the size of
dead birds.

San Francisco
February 1958



Thanks Kristina
Next up: Laurenn McCubbin (’13)

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