Anna Farber, OC ’21, Arts & Culture Editor

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Anna Farber worked as the Art & Culture Editor of the Review from fall 2020 to spring 2021. Farber graduated with high honors in Art History for her thesis on Mary Magdalene and the Neapolitan Angevin Dynasty. She leaves Oberlin for a summer internship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. At the Review, Farber was known for her crafty editing and for having the quickest quips in the office. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How did your journey as a writer begin? 

That’s a funny story: my first-year roommate was one Katherine Anne MacPhail who was the Arts & Culture Editor of The Oberlin Review! During our second year, she pitched me a story about something going on at the Allen Memorial Art Museum. She knew that I was really involved with visual art and other museum stuff going on at the school. I wrote the story and it was really fun and went really well. Then I wrote another one that went less well, but at the end of my third year of college, they were hiring for a new Arts & Culture editor and Katherine texted me “you should apply for this.” I said fine and eventually got the position! 

What have you gotten out of this experience?

I think this is gonna sound really cheesy but just knowing that I can do something that’s hard, you know? Putting out a newspaper every week is a lot of work. I was thinking about it: writing and keeping track of writers and articles and editing. Doing all this stuff felt like such a big terrifying logistical burden, but to know that I did it every single week and we turned out a newspaper was just incredibly empowering for me – teaching myself how very capable I am. I can handle whatever is on my plate and I can get it off.

This is such a tangent but a couple years ago Cardi B posted a meme that was like “of course I have a lot on my plate, isn’t the goal to eat?” I think about that all the time.

What is a piece that you are particularly proud of working during your time at the Review? 

Oh my gosh, there are so many! I really feel like we did such a good job — we poured our hearts into it. I wrote a piece for our section with [Kushagra] Kar about this museum installation. We went together and wrote a review and it was a really just beautiful experience. I feel that way really strongly about Nico [Vickers]’s mac and cheese piece. They wrote this awesome piece about trying all of the different mac and cheeses at [Lord-Saunders Dining Hall in the Afrikan Heritage House.] They added their experience and their personal relationship to mac and cheese. I enjoyed editing it so much and at the end it was so completely and totally Nico’s but like I felt like I really helped. It was just a fun piece to edit. I didn’t have to change very much but moving a paragraph here and doing something else. It was an incredibly intimate and very delicious read. I love the pieces that made me hungry. 

That was the piece that I, to this day, have barely read because it makes me so mad. I’ve missed out on this semester’s Sunday dinners at A House and that piece will frustrate me until I can sit and enjoy. I will definitely pull the article up just to read about this mac and cheese while I eat. 

Honestly, the real move after reading the article is to ask Nico for their mac and cheese because they described their mac and cheese recipe and it sounds amazing. 

I will pay them. I will. I will pay good money for good mac and cheese. I genuinely would put down about $30 for like a nice dish of mac and cheese.

What is the most unhinged thing someone has said to you in an interview?

I wrote a story about this Facebook group and I reached out on the page and asked if I could quote people. Someone asked, “Do you want to use my name?” And I was like, “Yeah.” He didn’t want me to and I went “Oh, can you tell me why?” He said “Well, I just think that people should only be in the newspaper when they’re born, get married, or die.” Hilarious things to say to a newspaper editor. I did not expect this man to say this to me at all … he ended up giving a quote and it was fine, but it was just a really funny experience.

What is a funny story or treasured memory that you have with the Review?

In an undisclosed location we staged the fake wedding between Katherine and Anisa [Curry-Vietze] and it was amazing. Katherine described it as “pure unadulterated theater kid energy” and I’m kind of inclined to agree. We were all in it — everyone, nobody was wavering even a little bit. It was a real wedding, there was a song, Christo [Hays] and Ivy [Fernandez-Smith] were the flower girls. It was incredible. Kar was the ring bearer!

What is your greatest achievement as an Arts & Culture editor?

Oh man, all of it. I want to say it’s like a specific article but I also want to say it’s being an Arts & Culture editor. To still have an Arts & Culture section during a time when people weren’t gathering, people weren’t going to shows, and artists weren’t coming to campus is incredible. We had to be creative and come up with fun article ideas, like the self-care piece

We had to make the Arts & Culture section a place to meditate on Oberlin culture in the abstract, as much as it was in the concrete, and that was one of my goals in becoming the Arts & Culture section editor. I wanted to move away from just event coverage and start writing things that looked more like think pieces — things that were really engaging for readers who weren’t necessarily at an event or thinking about an event.

What is some advice that you have for the next Arts & Culture editors? 

I guess the biggest one would be like, don’t get bogged down in the weeds and keep your eyes on the prize, that is, publishing stuff that you’re proud of and that you like even when little things go wrong. 

Sometimes this job feels like death by a thousand cuts, you know? It’s like answering emails, keeping track of things, making sure you have quotes and all this stuff. The goal is to let that just be noise and know that the real thing you’re doing is creating, not only articles, but the section as a whole space to really give people and things that we care about a platform. Keeping that at heart  and keeping that the center of all the work that you’re doing is key.

And making something for everybody that is a cool place to come and read, rest, think, meditate and learn about art.

Where is Anna Farber going?

Immediately after I graduate I have an internship at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Just for the summer, but it is a summer job and it is paid! I’ll be in their education department working with medieval art, so that’s going to be amazing because I’m a medievalist. The reason that I love museums and art teaching spaces so much is because I love being able to connect with people — be in community with people and look at art and reflect. I love to show people, especially with medieval objects because they’re so complex, how to look at them to get things out of it.