Aura is Kaleidoscope’s sister organization under the UAB Student Media umbrella.
In honor of Aura’s upcoming issue, Contemporary Juice, I sat down with Anna Ulrey, Aura’s Editor-in-Chief and Olivia Blanton, Aura’s managing editor, to discuss juice, map making and Joe Biden.
So you have probably been asked this like, a million times over already, but what does contemporary juice mean to you?
Olivia: Try a billion times over. I can say simply that I was sitting in the middle of the student media office and it just popped into my head. There was no precursor. It just became Contemporary Juice, and I think that in itself was juice. The best way I can explain it is there is a trend now in modern art where we celebrate the weird, the unnatural, and often the pop of color. It’s supposed to kind of make you uncomfortable when you hear contemporary juice.
You’re supposed to be confused. You’re supposed to not know what it means. You’re supposed to develop your own definition.
Right now, you’re picturing something that is contemporary juice. Maybe it’s like a mannequin head or maybe it’s literal juice. But the person next to you is not gonna picture that. And so that’s why I’m really excited for this magazine because I don’t expect us to get a lot of the traditional poems or works of art.
What drew you guys to Aura in the first place?
Olivia Blanton: If you look at a lot of my curriculum, like my major and the things I do outside of Aura, it’s science-based. I wanted a way to express myself on a campus that is so medical-focused, so science-focused.
And Aura was – I hate to use this term – but it’s the shining beacon. I feel it’s just the premier way to express that creativity.
Anna Ulrey: I am in the middle of the early medical school program at UAB. So I was looking for a way to explore some other passions that aren’t related to science. I saw that a good friend of mine was in Aura, and I just joined. It was in the middle of the pandemic, so it wasn’t a regular experience for Aura. But since then, we’ve been doing our best to bounce back as a present literary arts magazine on campus.
So in and outside of Aura, what type of art do you do when you’re trying to relax and unwind?
Anna: Ooh, I’m a big poetry person, so I like to write poetry. There hasn’t been a semester where I haven’t been taking a poetry course, so a lot of my poetry writing is for academic purposes, but I still find that very relaxing and fun. It’s the best of both worlds in that sense.
Also just working on the magazine, it’s a very creative and artistic endeavor. So it’s a lot of fun and relaxing for me when I’m not on a tight deadline.
Olivia: I guess this kind of bends your idea of what art is, but I do map making in the School of Public Health. It’s really weird and it uses very technical software, but once you get into it, it’s relaxing. So I do that, but Aura is my main outlet for creativity. Like when I walk into those meetings, it’s just like, “oh, I can breathe, I can, you know, do something different.”
What types of work are you hoping to see people submit to the magazine?
Anna: Ooh, I’m hoping they submit really avant-garde, abnormal pieces. I wanna be a little bit unnerved and off-put by what is going into this magazine.
Olivia: I’d love to see a pop of color, you know, something misshapen. But at the same time, I think the idea of contemporary juice changes for everybody. I’m excited to see how my concept of it changes from going through our submissions.
What do you think the most difficult part of magazine creation is?
Anna: Feeling like you’re doing the pieces that were submitted justice. Sometimes we can’t put everything in the magazine that we want to put in, and that can be like tough because there are amazing art and literary pieces that are submitted to the magazine. I think making those editorial decisions can be really hard.
If there is one message that you hope readers take away from Contemporary Juice, what is it?
Olivia: Everyone gets their juice. You either find it or it finds you. I think the message they get from the magazine has to be just as weird as the magazine.
Anna: Oh my god. Find your juice and find it quick.
If juice were an animal, what would it be?
Anna: Capybara for me.
Olivia: Okay, do you remember those books when you were a kid, the Animorphs?
Anna: Never in my life, Olivia.
Olivia: It was like this weird series about people like transforming into animals. It would be an animal you’ve never seen before. It doesn’t matter what the animal is. You’ve never seen it and you cannot recognize it.
If Contemporary Juice had like a celebrity spokesperson, who would it be?
Olivia: It would have to be Joseph R. Biden. Like, how weird would it be to have the president be like, “yes, we all must live contemporary juice.” Like, what the hell?
What about Joe Biden screams juice?
Olivia: He doesn’t! He doesn’t at all, that’s what’s kind of juicy to me.
Is there anything else you want people to know about the magazine before it comes out?
Anna: Nah, just find your juice and find it quick.
Submissions for Aura’s Contemporary Juice issue close February 1st, 2023.