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Creativity and Community

Creativity and Community
Michael Frassinelli, Visual Arts Department Head

As the campus continues to evolve during the Classroom Building project, we in the Visual Arts Department continue to find creative ways to bring art into the community. This fall, the members of the ArtLAB class have worked to create a multi-dimensional and interdisciplinary art installation based on the themes of Identity, Community, and Family. Each student brainstormed images, stories, and symbols that were important to them, whether it be a cultural connection, a personal memory, or related to family history or traditions. Once the images were developed, they were created in a variety of mediums, from drawing and painting, and hand-carved 3D tiles (known as ‘reliefs’), to photographs, digital art, and calligraphy. Along with visual work are students’ statements (in a variety of languages) describing the meaning and importance of the imagery, which includes a wide variety of personal objects, landscapes and other locations, portraits and snapshots.

This theme was also shared with the English Department’s creative writing class, Found Voices. The writers contributed poems that represented these themes, in the form of concrete poetry (where the words of the poem form an image or shaped) and redacted or ‘blackout’ poetry (where random text is chosen and lines are crossed out to bring new meaning to the selection of words.) Once installed, members of the community, from other student affinity groups, are invited to add to the piece with images and writing from their own experience and background.

This large, sprawling temporary mural (on display in the hall connecting Beveridge Hall to Common Ground in the Student Center) is made up of more than 200 works of art and student writing, each presented in a square format. The square format alludes to the ‘box’ that we are often asked to check describing our identity, from gender and nationality, to socio-economic and political affiliations. These diverse squares, arranged in a kind of exploded grid, might also suggest the idea of ‘thinking outside the box:’ trying new ways of thinking and challenging assumptions. It certainly is a wonderful opportunity to share creativity and personal storytelling with the Dana Hall community.