Heading North, To Kansas

By Morgan Robertson

Late afternoon on Friday, we loaded the car and embarked on our journey to the Midwest! Our destination for the first half of our week is Wichita, Kansas, for the 76th Annual Meeting of the Midwestern Legislative Conference. Leaving late afternoon, though, we only made a few hours on the road before our first stop.

Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

On the museum grounds, we were introduced to a new (to us) artist, Richard Serra, known for his massive bronze sculptures. His abstract works develop a “patina” over time, meaning that the metal changes color. Since its creation in 2002, we could clearly see how the coloring of Vortex has changed over time.

We snapped a few shots and made our way to another nearby outside piece, Hina, by another new (to most of us) artist, Deborah Butterfield. Butterfield also works in bronze, but her horses look like they’re made of wood!

Chatting about the different techniques, we made our way inside to meander through the modern pieces, on the lookout for more new and inspiring artists and works.

The minimal and modern building blended perfectly with the landscape and the works inside. The interior layout is designed to display prominent exhibits, with soaring ceilings and a lot of glass, and it is an appropriate motif for minimalist works such as those by Donald Judd.

The east and north sides overlook a reflecting pool, across which stands a gleaming Roxy Paine with interweaving branches entitled Conjoined.

Yvette quickly identified the distinct squares and colors of Josef Albers and Jessica spotted her favorite part of the museum, a collection of Andy Warhol flowers, and we were pleased to see that we would be rewarded with other Warhol works as well.

True to the nature of modern art, the pieces were not limited to paint and canvas. Steel and fiberglass adorned the center of one gallery, while interesting messages displayed on LED signs followed a vertical and uniform pattern in another. Of particular interest were Nancy Graves’ Inside-Outside and Jenny Holzer’s Kind of Blue, which we spent a lot of time on, pondering and (trying to) photograph.

Ashlyn best liked a rather unique photograph that featured a simple middle-class home balanced upon a pair of legs, Laurie Simmons’ Walking House. She was drawn to the piece for how it “stood out” and could be interpreted on multiple levels.

We made our way (rather quickly because of the temperature) through the sculpture garden which, in addition to the Paine, featured a KAWS…

…and Henry Moore. Morgan favored, in opposition to her usual taste in sculptures, Moore’s Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 2.

Professor Yawn’s favorite piece was one by Martin Puryear, titled “Ladder for Booker Washington.” While we didn’t understand the reference, Yawn discussed it and offered several interpretations for this intriguing piece.

The more dynamic pieces allowed us to practice creating interesting and unusual photographic compositions and ultimately resulting in some nice shots.

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth was a good start to what soon will be a week worth of art, history and politics!

La Cena at Salsa Limón

With Oklahoma City in our sights, we chose somewhere quick (that turned out to be just right!) for dinner—Salsa Limón. We made our selections, while attempting to create a variety of options (which in my opinion, is becoming increasingly more difficult since our tastes sometimes converge). Jessica and Morgan chose similarly (boring burritos!) with pastor and chorizo, respectively, Ashlyn had a chicken molco bowl (“Just what I was expecting!”), and Yvette, Professor Yawn and Stephanie had an assortment of tacos, from barbacoa, to mushroom & cheese, to pastor, to black bean & avocado.

It was a good and light meal, energizing us for the final leg of our day’s travels.

Law & Order in Madison County

By Jessica Cuevas

Although it is summer, and we are all working in various jobs, LEAP Ambassadors current and former carpooled to Madison County to witness, first-hand, an attempted murder trial in Madison County. This opportunity came at the invitation of Judge David Moorman, the presiding judge in the case.

As in almost all trials, the defendant was present in the court, along with the victim and her family. Our experience with the Courts has been restricted mostly to witnessing the 10th Court of Appeals, where attendance by defendants or victims is rare, so this was a new experience for us.

Judge Moorman began by reading all the charges–all ten counts–that the jury would have to determine whether the defendant (Alex Carter) was (1) not guilty, (2) guilty of a lesser charge, or (3) not guilty for each count. The key charge was aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, stemming from incidents allegedly occurring in early May 2021. In sum, the charges could result in imprisonment for more than 20 years.

Following the opening argument from the state, Frank Blazek, a well-known criminal defense lawyer (and former Walker County DA), opened the final arguments for the defense side by disputing the prosecution’s argument and presenting photo evidence to the jury, focusing on the technicalities of the events.

Robin Whitney, an ADA for Madison County, ended the final arguments for the trial. Her deliberation was very different from the rest, probably one of the best, with a compelling rebuttal speech and heartfelt performance. Robin’s main focus was to “redirect” the jury, encouraging them to focus on the most compelling evidence for the prosecution side. These tactics, of course, are staples of our adversarial court system.

After the jury broke for deliberation, we had the ability to speak to Judge Moorman and lawyers Whitney and Blazek. We even had the opportunity to see the photo exhibits as we waited for the jury to decide! All of these experiences help guide us in our path through pre-law, and we are immensely grateful for the attorneys’ willingness to spend time helping undergraduates.

Not knowing how much longer it would take after already being there for six hours, unfortunately, we said our goodbyes and began our trip back to Huntsville, pondering on what we thought the verdict would be–which, as of this writing, is still not decided!