Meet Emma Orlow

Born and raised on the Upper East Side, Emma is a confessional writer, aspiring curator, taurus and an only child. In high school she co-founded a global webseries about telling the stories of teenagers via videos of their bedrooms which garnered a front page NYTimes spread.  She is currently graduating from NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study with a concentration in confessional art and contemporary female artist. Emma writes poems and creates text art that focuses on the relationship between female sexuality and food.  Emma is also working on a curating collective and trying to put together her first show which is going to be an entire home for visitors to explore.

Outfit, Vintage

on her morning routine

My morning routine is usually making awkward eye contact with my neighbors across the way who have seen me eat snacks in my underwear, have sex, and cry way too many times because for no reason I refuse to get blinds. After that’s over, I usually put on music and try to remind myself to hydrate.

on her interest in confessional art

Confessional art as a genre intends to reveal a truth that is inherently shameful. I guess I like that because I don’t go to therapy and am an only child, so it’s the way that I deal with things on my own. Plus I like turning gross, rotten memories into the silliest, most colorful looking objects to cherish. Although I suppose you can argue that all art intends to reveal something autobiographical, even a paired down abstract painting. I like making work that most people probably think is embarrassing, like anything about the time my laundry bag opened in the elevator and this guy handed me back my period stained underwear seems like relevant fodder, even though period art for the most part is pretty done at this point.


Emma's favorite books
I used to work as an editorial assistant at New Distribution, which represents all these amazing independent magazines I love like Buffalo Zine, Food For Fashion, PIN-UP, and Editorial Magazine. I care about spending full price on thoughtful independent print projects because for titles that are actually going back to long-form journalism and using really experimental typography in their layouts I just feel like this is the most functional form of art to indulge. My favorite books of all-time are “The Glass Castle” and “Please Kill Me.” In the photo above though there some other good ones: Frida Kahlo’s diary in particular uses such poetic language to talk about selfhood and colors. I can always go back to it for inspiration. There’s also a hardcover poetry book I self-published called “I Want to Scratch ‘n Sniff You,” as well as a Japanese photo series on pregnant women and the uncanny of the domestic sphere.
— on her favorite books

on the beginning of her art series

My best friend in high school and I started [The Do Not Enter Diaries]. Part of it came from the fact that we were obsessed with the art direction that went into the bedrooms in some of our favorite films and how it was, in a lot of cases, the crux of the characters’ development. We knew how much we had worked to make our own bedrooms these special havens and how much we hoped it said about us and our friends. We wanted to showcase how something as simple as the way you decorate is a form of storytelling. The other part was we felt like we didn’t have the outlet for all of our weird ideas in our claustrophobic high school atmosphere and wanted a space of our own to work on. It was very low-tech—we only had a crappy camera and didn’t know much about web development but it was such a fun and important learning experience. It was incredible that we got the kind of press we did. The fact that MTV and Amazon’s E-book office invited us to their office at one point was insane. But I am honestly glad none of that came into fruition at that point in my life.

on moving on to other projects

[We didn't continue The Do Not Enter Series because] we were at first limited to our friends and friends of friends and those who emailed us, which didn’t make the project nearly as diverse as we wanted it to be. If we had a bigger network it would’ve been different. But eventually we started getting correspondents from as far as Slovakia and Shanghai, which was great. I think it had a lot of potential, but there are still so many other issues I would’ve loved to touch upon and it was hard to keep the film style consistent when the correspondents were sending us the footage. We realized that having your own bedroom itself was such a privileged concept and we wanted to explore more subjects who were engaging with the teenage bedroom in nonconventional ways. Had we had better resources—funding, even just a better camera-- I would’ve loved to delve in even deeper. But in the end, we both went off to college and got involved in other projects and being obsessed with archiving the teenage bedroom sadly seemed less pertinent all of a sudden.

Dress, Vintage

Dress, Vintage

Top, American Apparel ; Pants, Bode New York

I just finished a series called “Packed Lunch” which are humorous silk tapestries that use food metaphors for different erotic situations. I am kind of fixated on the relationship between food and sexuality, mostly because meals are a way that I archive a lot of memories. Someone recently told me that Graham crackers were created by this religious guy to keep boys busy so that they wouldn’t masturbate. I am so into that. I’ve been thinking of what foods would be the equivalent for women. Rewriting a mythology around Cheetos, maybe…where a psychoanalyst was like, women eat Cheetos because they remind them of penis envy, or something? I don’t know. I also just bought a dollhouse off of Craigslist that I am going to recreate, where each room is a different story from my past. I recently got back from this curators intensive program and my friend and I are brainstorming work for a curator collective we want to start.
— on creating more art projects
Emma's favorite beauty products

on her beauty routine

I don’t wear much makeup, but when I do it's usually a little bit of the Bare Essentials bronzer, Glossier Boy Brow, and maybe some sort of black eyeliner or red lipstick, depending on the occasion. I also recommend Glossier Priming MoisturizerSt. John's Shield Light Regenerative Bath & Body OilsDKNY Be Delicious Eau de Parfum Spray, and C.O.Bigelow Rose Salve.

My dad is a dermatologist so I think I’ve grown up being really skeptical of most beauty products that say they can rock my world. I am still totally attracted to makeup with really groovy packaging or anything that smells like a Jamba Juice smoothie. I still think simple stuff like Dove soap really gets the job done best. I am wary of complicated ingredients.

on her shopping habits and style

Most of my wardrobe is vintage, junky thrift-shops, and random online places I follow on Instagram. I love 10 Ft. Single Stella Dallas, Amarcord Vintage, 9th Street Haberdashery, Coming Soon, and Georgia Vintage. I just want my wardrobe to look like a lava lamp sort of spilled all over an episode of Lizzie McGuire.

Dress, Vintage

Dress, Vintage

Top, Topshop    ; Skirt, Vintage ; Tote, Rube Goldberg

Top, Topshop ; Skirt, Vintage ; Tote, Rube Goldberg

emma's favorite books

How Should A Person Be by Sheila Heti, Chelsea Girls by Eileen Myles, The Diary of Frida Kahlo by Carlos Fuentes, A Coney Island of the Mind by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, I Want to Scratch 'n Sniff You by Emma Orlow

emma's favorite movies

The Doom Generation, Coffee and Cigarettes, Reality Bites, Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion

emma's favorite places in nyc

Lowkey brunch spot: B&H Deli

Favorite sandwich: Cheeky Sandwiches

Best bookstore: Mast Books


Photography by Audrey Cotton