Around the Grid

"I don’t want viewers just to remember all the beautiful pictures I made. As an artist, I want to communicate ideas."

Here represents my artistic journey, all photographed by me, Karissa Jobman - an Ohio based educator and artist.

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Marry a Woman who Travels

Marry the woman who embraces long nights in the airport as much as the wind in her hair on the edge of a mountain peak -who considers the exploration of small town gems equal to the bright lights on the Brooklyn Bridge. 

And when you stumble across the one who understands the uncertainty of a planned journey, don’t let her go.

Chase after the beautiful soul who will ditch her schedule in exchange for adventure, as she will relish in a last minute road trip just to breathe the fresh air of the Great Lakes  even for a few hours. 

Love the one who reveals her vulnerability along her journey.

Listen as she shares her heart of the lonely nights in an estranged city huddled up in her hostel bed and the humbling feeling of ignorance as she fumbles through a new language with new friends. And take her every wild adventure with a grain of salt, understanding the discomfort, fear, and solitude that accompanies every cultural rush and relationship formed.

Ask her questions. Hear the tales of her photos. Open her journal to her travels. And take a deep dive in the wandering of your own heart when she inquires about yours.

So when you meet the one who sees borders as a bridge to the unknown and not a boundary to the forbidden, hold on to her. And if your lucky, she’ll bring you along. 

Bursting “The Bubble”

Over the past 30 years, college costs have inflated 1,120%, a rate higher than any other good in the US economy that has left students burdened with debts averaging $30,000. With top universities ranking in at the hefty price tag of 60,000 a year, high school grads are beginning to wonder if the debt is worth it? On one hand, college is a pinnacle time for self-discovery and opening the mind to new ideas, but no longer is it a one way ticket to the American Dream or even a professional career. 

With the exponential growth of national student debt and increased political pressure from student advocates, we must ask, how can the institution of higher learning reform to maintain accessibility to all populations and provide as an economic stimulator for society. 

[photos of top universities campuses around the country: Notre Dame, Drew, Washington University, MIT, Harvard, and UT Austin]

"I Do" or Die

I’ve noticed a common thread with my friends lately in the post-graduate dating world, and it’s about making big commitments to uncertainty. Early adulthood is about transitions. Jobs are being moved across country, apartments rented, and careers forming. This makes the eternal long distance relationship that could work in college no longer feasible. When big decisions are on the line, the need for intentionality and clear expectations becomes essential, forcing young couples to make big commitments prematurely or it will fade as the distance impedes blossoming love. 

To be dramatic, it’s cutthroat. It’s deciding if the relationship is worth chasing around the world or you let it go. It’s “I Do” or die.

[photos taken in North Carolina at Sydney and Manuel’s wedding, a couple that met abroad while we were attending la Iglesia Evangelica Bautista de Barrio Norte]

Failing a Race

While most Americans consider the fight for Civil Rights to have ended at the turning of Brown vs. Board, MLK Jr., and the end of the 60’s, the injustices plaguing Black communities across the country make the fight far from over. During my time teaching summer school in inner-city Atlanta, I was a first hand witness to the more subtle, systematic racism that widely oppresses the opportunities for advancement of the race. 

I suffered with my students. I hurt for Franklin who was one month from graduating still lacking basic literacy, and I broke for Daryl who struggled with elementary arithmetic computation causing him to be frustrated with the introduction to algebra. 

Taken at face value, I have heard higher income white Americans blindly attribute the achievement gap to complacent parents, apathetic students, and communities that are too lazy to want to learn. But what I experienced were parents who were desperate for their child’s success, frustrated students who have been left in the dust, and a community suffering projections of racial stereotypes from the outside world. 

You see, my students come to summer school because they want to learn, they want to graduate, but they have also been a victim of school system and a nation that has expected little of them, lacked adequate resources, and intervened minimally to fill in educational gaps that allowed them to fall through the cracks, making them the invisible children of the world.

Across the nation, inner-city schools are underperforming and are filled with minority populations - causing education inequity to fall on the lines of both class and race. And further, when we examine the Black-White achievement gap in the context of our civil rights history of denied opportunities to black students and compare it to the continued redlining of communities today, it would be difficult to argue that the existing gap is merely a coincidence or the fault of one race alone. Rather, it shows that stereotypes, discrimination and racism still burns in the very threads of our laws and permeates deeply in our communities and schools.  

The Civil Rights Movement fought for the end of racial segregation and discrimination, but if we examine our progress in public education, we see that little has been achieved. And when you measure in terms of opportunities for mobility, the war has yet to be won.

[photos taken at the new National Center for Civil & Human Rights in Atlanta]

The Family Strand

Traditions are actions ingrained in the fingerprint of time, so accustomed to a family or community that it becomes second nature to recycle actions year after year.

The desire for this reoccurrence of shared experiences is definitely not haphazard, but it may be more than just fond memories that entices this repetition. Recent epigenetic research suggests that the experiences of past generations can actually genetically modify the DNA of generations to come.

So if traumatic experiences of our ancestors can leave molecular scares, can familiar traditions that foster community genetically mend our battle wounds? A neighborhood parade on a Fourth of July fosters a tighter sense of family for today, but may this longstanding tradition is also alter the epigenetics for a more co-dependent family lineage to follow? 

[photos: a family 4th of july celebration in Cincinnati, Ohio]

In God We Trust

Within 48 hours of the end of the honeymoon, the couple departed for the for the challenge of a life time, packing up their New Jersey city life surrounded by a Russian community to relocate to rural and segregated Arkansas in pursuit of a fight for educational equity. No home picked out and only one job as a school teacher between the two marks the beginning of their marriage together. 

An Exert from my Journal

So often I think about the day I first saw the ocean as a monumental day in my life. August 3rd, 2011. The sunset on the LA horizon and the vast waters in front of me with no end gave me an overwhelming feeling that “I had made it”. I had made it to the edge of the Earth, and no one could stop the dreamer inside of me from the world’s infinite exploration and possibilities.

Yet, more important than the mysterious ocean in front of me was the cherished lifelong best friend standing to my side. She was with me for the first dance of the sixth grade, my first kiss, the day in eighth grade where we had to watch a baby being born, and next to me on our first day of high school homeroom. While I zigged, she zagged, but our differences never kept us apart for long. We shared victories as doubles partners, heartbreaks as we grew up, and the intellectual passions that brought us to college graduation. 

As I return to Santa Monica Pier for the second time in my life, I recognize that the day standing on the ocean’s shore for the first time marked a milestone bigger than my own conquest that awaits, but it marked the possibility of a life journey with my best friend. 

A World Worth Seeing

Growing up I always had blurred vision. I remember the fifth grade, sitting in the back of the classroom, squinting so hard to see the board. My teachers would mention it to me but I knew corrective lenses were expensive, and growing up with a single mom on welfare, I carried the guilt of the burden this would place on her. For years I beared the inconvenience of a limited vision of the world, not understanding the incredible beauty of detail I was missing out on.

In the tenth grade, I picked up my first DSLR camera, a Nikon D40, and all of the sudden a world of fuzzy trees and starburst street lights became crystal clear. The texture of leaves fascinated me. The subtle expressions of strangers enchanted me. And the intricacies of cities made me fall in love with a life behind the lens. 

These photos of Seattle’s Pacific Science Center celebrate the delicacy of the world around me. An appreciation gained through quiet details and subdued moments.

Collegiate National Triathlon Championship

Every year, USATriathlon hosts a national stage for college athletes to face the elements and compete for the glory of a national title - or more likely - a personal record. This weekend in Tempe, Arizona hosted over 1,000 students from undergraduate and graduate degree programs nationally taking on the challenge.

The day consisted of three different races subdivided into men’s and women’s triathlon competitions: Sprint, Olympic, and Mixed Team relay. However, not all competitions are created equal. As commented by competitors across the nation, the Olympic race (1,500m swim, 36k bike, 10k run) is really the Holy Grail of the weekend - it’s what you save your energy for, what the spectators gush over, and where the winning glory is remembered.


Over my first cup of coffee in my life, I met Roosevelt - my favorite link to the city. Escaping the morning drizzle, I was greeted by powerful aromas and a the chatter of sociable older man, newspaper in hand, ready to discuss the daily politics with the baristas. He stuck out as the only black man in the predominately white neighborhood, but that didn’t stop him from making friends with anyone and everyone in the shop. 

Roosevelt moved from small town Pennsylvania ten years ago, charting from California to Seattle to land a gig as a baker at one of Seattle’s organic, vegan sweeteries. He fell in love with the city for what he loved to hate: it’s dreary days, overly health conscious population, and lack of parking everywhere. 

I was in a position to find friends, so I knew I needed to meet him. Casually sitting next to him at a big round table in the front of Caffe Fiore, I invited him into conversation and carefully listened to his stories.

Throughout the course of an hour, I traveled through his relationships with his coworkers, the death of his best friend, his shared affinity for documentaries, views on medicinal marijuana, and dream to travel to Australia. 

And just like that, call him a split second stranger and a life long friend, I finished my cup and we parted ways, promising I’d email him for a second cup of coffee next time I was in the city.

SOS Venezuela

When I first saw a student-made video of the military’s violent reaction to protests in Venezuela, I questioned its validity that exposed the realities of the country’s limited freedom of speech. But as I partook in deeper exploration on the matter, I found that indeed protestors were being shot, and a corrupt government was asserting aggressive power to instill fear to quiet the nation. 

I was confused by how a whole country could seemingly be in uproar, when here in the United States we are silent about these human rights violations happening just south of us. If we are a country who prides itself on its liberties of our voices, why don’t we speak out when injustices ensue. Instead, I often fall witness of viral Justin Beiber deportation posts instead of engaged conversations about the scandal of two dozen teachers facing unfair deportations in Dallas’ neighboring school district. 

While Venezuela is suffering widespread government censorship from media and social networks alike, I question the longevity of America’s Freedom of Speech for a different reason. I worry our idleness and complacency about international affairs, systematic oppressions, and global injustice will result in widespread self-censorship. Our lack of interest may be our greatest blackout, silencing marginalized humans - which terrifies me more than the threat of a fallen democracy. 


I took these photos this weekend at a protest outside the White House in DC that asked President Obama, “the leader of the free world”, to take action for Venezuela. The voice of these people stands strong, but the interest in these people as more than a spectacle was minimal. 

I commend them for using their voice to fight suffering. And I encourage others to continue to seek and speak truth.


19th street was a hidden gem in the Houston area, now the most diverse region in the United States. My previous experiences in America’s fourth largest city did not illustrate this diversity, so I was surprised to learn that less than 40% of the Houston Metro is Anglo-American, with impressive multicultural suburbs of Latinos, African-Americas, and Asians. 

This transformation has rapidly taken place over the last 20 years when Houston began to emerge as a national economic leader and an immigration hub for those looking to define themselves in a growing city. Now the city stands as a forward example of a movement in desegregation and liberal acceptance of its openly gay mayor, with no dominant majority.

So while the 70’s style 19th street sporting a vintage barber shop, a scrap metal antique yard, and local eateries may feel a little back in time, Houston is arguably one of the most forward cities in the Great American Melting Pot in terms immigration and diversity. 

Kira Gale

My grandmother is the first example of an entrepreneurial woman I’ve had in my life. When I met her she was a historian, writing about local history. But throughout my last twenty years, she’s written several books on the expeditions of Lewis and Clark, become an independent publisher, and is now considered the leading proponent on the theory that Meriwether Lewis was the victim of a political assassination. (I remember how cool it was to watch her on the History Channel with my roommates in my college dorm room.)

But most of all, she’s an innovator. At the age of 70, she is working to break into the mobile app and ebook business - technology even 20-year-olds are afraid to touch. And I tell everyone she’s the coolest because she’s taught me the importance of collaboration to make projects successful, acting on ideas, being unconventional, and refusing to sit still. 

She’s changing history, or at least how we learn and perceive it. 

Life in a Sponge

Arguably the rarest innovation in residential living on MIT’s campus comes with 5,538 pores, or windows, and serves as an architectural destination engineers, students and SpongeBob fanatics alike.

Steven Holl first set out to design the student dorm in 1999, envisioning a sponge concept that would make waves on creativity, efficiency, and functionality. As for the 350 students dwell in the sea organism, Simmons Hall may be characterized by peripheral distance, heavy furniture, bad cell reception, and amenities that make life in the middle of Boston a world of its own.

Pixelized Nature

Blue faces cover the modern world as humans from coast to coast bury themselves in a screen-addicted age. This new phenomena sweeping the developed world on one hand takes us out of nature, relocating our work and free time to to sedentary locations in technological consumption, but on the other hand allows us to experience nature in a new way.

I came across the reality of this recently while chatting with a friend (of course while we shared a computer screen to virtually explore the world beyond the coffee shop doors). He asked me if I had ever been to NYU’s campus in the city. Now I had been to New York once before, so glimmered possibility, but I had also walked the streets of New York City many times from behind the pixeled perspective of Google Earth. I honestly could not say with confidence if I had experienced the campus first hand or if I was so saturated by easily accessible images that I could fool myself.

There exposes the blurring of lines between virtual and reality, natural and synthesized. We continue to dig into out screens in a longing for the physical world. Our backgrounds are of mountains, our wallpapers of flowers seeking a connection to nature, but addicted to the blue light that wakes up our brain virtual reality is becoming the new reality of the present.