One in Two Thousand: Isabel Kuh ’23

Izzy Polanco

(Photo courtesy of Isabel Kuh.)

Each week, we randomly select a unix from a list of all current students at the College for our One in Two Thousand feature. As long as the owner of a selected unix is willing to be interviewed and is not a member of the Record board, that person becomes the subject of our interview. This week, the computer (using a script in R) chose Isabel Kuh ’23, who discussed her involvement with WCFM, creating spaces for collaborative art, and how — in her view — bibs are “in.” This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Izzy Polanco (IP): So, this interview is happening in the WCFM station. Can you tell me about your involvement with WCFM?

Isabel Kuh (IK): I am one of the general managers, along with one of my close friends Caroline Hess [’23]. I have been involved with WCFM since I was a freshman when I had a radio show that was then called “animal print” — now it’s called “Moon Goo.” I came into Williams and knew that I wanted to get involved in radio. I think I started my show in September or October, or something quite early on in my freshman year, and since then, I’ve just remained really committed to this space and the group of people who DJ on campus.

It feels like a really nice, supportive community that also feels very dynamic and engaged and wants to provide something that isn’t academic in nature to the campus, which is really fulfilling, even when you don’t know who’s listening.

IP: Can you tell me more about Moon Goo and what you do on your show, and maybe from where the namesake is derived?

IK: I started Moon Goo last fall and basically play ambient house and techno, though there’s some variety within that to include house and disco, and other types of things that aren’t really included within that general frame. But the name just comes from an interest in the moon and the sky. I just also really like the texture of goo, and kind of slimy, gooey, icky, like tar-adjacent things. At least for tar, it relates to where I grew up in Los Angeles because it’s two blocks from the L.A. tar pits. I grew up surrounded by things that ooze out of the ground, and I’m interested in what that looks like and could mean on other planets. 

IP: WCFM sometimes brings in artists to perform.  If you could pick any musician, band, or act to bring to Williams — money is no object — who would they be?

IK: Oh my god. [Long pause.] Do they have to be alive? 

IP: Not necessarily?

IK: I think Prince would be absolutely insane to have perform here. Prince is my immediate thought.

IP: Can you tell me more about your involvement with the art scene at Williams and your art collective? 

IK: I’ve been making art since I was little. It feels very foundational to who I am and where I see my life going in the future. I’ve worked in galleries [and] museums; [I] worked in artists’ residencies over the summer in Europe; [I’ve] worked for artists’ studios — the whole thing, basically, as much as possible. Working in art spaces brings me a lot of joy. However, there isn’t really an art scene on campus — there isn’t anything that comes directly from students for other students. 

I remember writing up this whole application back in early March 2020 [and] submitting it for a [Michael Dively ’61 Summer Opportunity Grant]. The whole premise was an art collective on campus. I recently found it again, and it basically was talking about how we can get people in a room together to make art — which is a lovely thought. However, there was no funding for that at the time considering COVID came in and was like, “Oh, you want to be in a room together? Yeah, that’s not gonna happen for a long time.” [Laughs.] 

After being abroad in London last spring and then continuing to be in Europe over the summer, I came back really wanting to create an art collective, which has yet to do anything on campus. However, there may indeed be something happening later this week. Details to come. [Laughs.] It’s called “pearl playground,” and the purpose is to create a space for people who are art-inclined or just want to share in art experiences over food, workshops, film screenings, music, DJing — all sorts of potential things to experiment and collaborate on all around, not just on campus, but the local community in general. 

IP: Okay, you’re wearing a really cool outfit right now. 

IK: Thank you. 

IP: You’re welcome. What is fashion to you? Do you incorporate art into your personal style?

IK: Fashion has always been really important to me. I remember growing up and wanting to be a fashion designer and then eventually watching Project Runway and realizing that I actually don’t have any of the skills to pursue that. After that, I definitely switched to an interest in visual arts, curation, and cultural programming.

My grandma used to work as a fashion writer and trend forecaster. She always made fashion something that is an important expression of who you are in an outward way. I feel like my sense of style and what I wear definitely relate a lot to how I see my visual world. It’s usually very colorful, with lots of different textures, always kind of trying to honor things that I would wear as a kid, which were as outlandish as possible — tutus, colorful sweaters, leggings, Mary Janes. I’m like, “Okay, I don’t think all of that layering was needed,” especially growing up in L.A. Looking back at photos where I know it was easily like 85 degrees, and I was decked out in like five different items. [Laughs.] But yeah, I definitely think there’s a lot that could be done and expressed through personal style.

IP: As a final note, there’s that trend where people list ins and outs. What fashion era are you in right now? What are your ins and outs as we approach mid-semester?

IK: There are so many things in my mind that are popping up. Well, one thing I would love more people to wear is bibs. [Laughs.] I have this bib that has a lobster on it, and I honestly think it’ll be worn sometime next week when it’s the one day that warms up again. I haven’t worn it yet since being back on campus. Basically, it’s a children’s bib that I bought at the vintage store that used to be on Spring Street [Bux Vintage]. It reminds me of Paula [Buxbaum], who used to run it and passed away last fall. But it’s also an incredibly silly piece of clothing to wear. 

The other night I went with some friends to Walmart, because we were all feeling slightly stir-crazy, and we were like, “What would happen if we just went to Walmart in the final hour that they’re open, and just wander around and get something?” They actually have a lot of bibs at the moment. I just think there are so many things that could be done with them, both as a top and also as a way to layer. If I saw someone in class with a “You’re doing great, sweetie” bib on — oh, it brings me so much joy. It would be really silly, and it’s so sweet.