Crystal Brusch: Artist in the Mist
By Samantha Rojas
She sat, studiously in the offices of the Broward Cultural Division for no more than five months, and now she is gone. We didn’t know much about her, as she kept to herself, but we knew she was good at what she did – web design, social media and newsletters for the Division. We knew we liked her smile. We knew we liked having Crystal Brusch around, and so we knew we were sad to see her go.
She is off to college in one of the largest, fastest, cultural centers of the world - to New York University’s Master’s Program in Interactive Telecommunications Program. Students don’t go to NYU for a typical college experience; they go there to follow their dreams in an independent city full of opportunity and challenge, color and crossroads. Crystal dreams of having her own apartment.
At the Division, Brusch immediately fell into her role as web design and social media assistant, and now it’s easy to see why. Her passion for the arts may have been born in elementary school with regular visits to high school theater productions with her friend’s mother, the high school theater teacher at South Plantation. They spent a lot of time watching productions and helping out backstage, which prompted her to take theater as a subject in high school where she preferred to be involved in the lighting and stage mechanics.
It seems that everything the Cultural Division does, parlays into her dreams. "This was a great, unexpected experience for me in the design area," says Brusch. "I had always designed e-zines for fun in high school, and I edited the school magazine and helped design the poetry magazine."
"I always wanted to be in a creative field. It seemed to me that people didn’t associate writing with art, until I got to the Cultural Division.
However I always liked the idea of producing something that connects you with people…I like that interactive feeling a lot."
Although earning an undergraduate degree in editing, writing and media from Florida State University is where she ended up, it is not where she started. She arrived at FSU with her passion for film and cinematography as her goal, but once arriving found the field to be too competitive for her personality. She switched her major to English and then to editing, writing and media. When you see the things that Brusch has gravitated towards, the things she has kept and the things she has let go over the years of her youth editing, writing and media seem organic to her nature.
She worked as a content editor for BrandsMart’s website after graduating from the university, but she found that not to be as interesting.
All along, she has played with film. Today, she experiments with developing photographs without a darkroom, with old school 35 mm film. She uses a strange, lightproof black bag that looks like a big t-shirt with long arms and elastic at the wrist openings. The developer sticks his or her hands into the t-shirt through the sleeves, holding the small canister sealed, with the film secured from the outside light. Inside the canister, the film is removed and placed into a larger canister called the developing tank, which contains chemicals and which is also lightproof.
Kodak tri-x 400 in hc-110 solution e @ 7:30 (developed along with neopan acros 100)
There is one chemical to develop, one to set the film and one to clear it out. It’s an interesting hobby and a technical way to learn about photography and light.
Ideas about design and technology, which she will examine in her master’s program, came to her from a New York Times project called Snow Fall. It’s an interactive true story about a group who went into the woods skiing and got trapped in an avalanche. As you are reading the story things happen online, videos start, or the words become animated. Brusch found this unique way of relaying a story to be intriguing, using elements of design that she has been interested in for a long time.
"I always wanted to be in a creative field," says Brusch. "It seemed to me that people didn’t associate writing with art, until I got to the Cultural Division. However I always liked the idea of producing something that connects you with people…I like that interactive feeling a lot."
Born in New York, Brusch grew up in South Florida, riding her moped around the cities and riding her bicycle in Shark Valley in the Everglades. She spent weekends on this 15-mile circular trail with alligators sitting on the side of the trail and no barriers between the rider and the gator. She feels very much a Florida native, though she smiles "that her ‘real’ Florida friends may not agree."
Crystal Brusch is excited about heading to Broadway and Off Broadway to see productions in her long-ago passion of the theater. She will learn from her master’s degree program while bringing all her web design, graphic expertise, film developing, social media and content management exposure to New York - and to her studies.
"I like being able to do things that help things flow more quickly, discovering the easiest, simplest way to get the best, most advanced results," says Brusch of her web experiences. What she is talking about is editing. Most people don’t see editing beyond words, or cinema reels. Editing may very well be a life skill; knowing what needs to stay, and knowing what needs to go. Crystal is off to New York. She needed to go - and not stay.
The Broward Cultural Division is Broward County’s local arts agency, designated by the State of Florida with a mission to enhance the community’s cultural environment through the development of the arts. It’s a lofty mission nestled in a hub of the Broward County government administration. In this swiftly developing business community - home to millions of annual tourists, regular “snow birds,” and a growing population of residents - there lies a unique backdrop of sand, sea, and miles of environmentally-friendly, lush natural swampland, as well as a strategically-central location in the South Florida region. Today, the Division consists of 21 individuals, each independently and uniquely passionate about the concept and application of arts and culture into the daily life of a developing community with a unique predisposition.