January 25, 2012

Art made public, by the public

You do not need a gallery to be an artist. At Knox, just a public space will do.
In recent years, art has appeared in various places, from chalkings on the sidewalk to the trash receptacles in women’s bathrooms to the shed in the Quads. All students can produce all kinds of creations in these areas, be they artistic, humorous, political or entirely random.
“Art isn’t just a hobby, it’s a way of life,” sophomore Ben Lachman, who often spray paints the shed in the Quads, said. Expressing one’s thoughts and emotions in this creative manner is important to Lachman.
“To me, art is communication,” Lachman said. “I just want to talk to everyone.”
Members of Students Against Sexism in Society (SASS), who first painted the shed a few years ago for their weeklong Love Your Body event, have shared this same desire of expression. SASS is also responsible for painting the trash receptacles in women’s bathroom stalls in George Davis Hall, Old Main and the basement of Seymour Union.
Post-baccalaureate and former member of SASS Kate Robbins ’11 fondly recalls the experience of taking an afternoon to paint.
“It was fun to contribute something to the beauty of the school that you know people are going to see for years,” Robbins said.
Future Knox students will indeed continue to be affected by this art, as it remains an interactive experience.
“One of my favorite things about [the painted trash receptacles] is how people even now, years later, write messages on them, and people write back,” Robbins said.
Student Senate is on board with propelling forward the creation of art in public spaces around campus. The idea has come up many times, both in discussions and in notes left in Senate’s suggestion box. Senior Student Senate President Gordon Barratt and other Senate executives agreed that it “was a really good idea; it’s something we could pursue, it would be low-cost; it would benefit the campus.”
Another goal of Student Senate is to display art made by students that may currently be in storage. According to Barratt, this would not only open up some much needed storage place, but it would also, more importantly, give students a chance to show off the work that they should be proud of.
Students who have created art are in favor of displaying it around campus.
“I want as many people to see my art as possible,” sophomore Hannah Tochtrop said. For her, any opportunity to have one’s art presented publicly is interesting and worthy of consideration, at the very least.
The appearance of art around campus is an aspect of Knox that is very — for lack of a better word — Knox. “It shows that we’re a creative place that’s willing to put ourselves out there,” Tochtrop said.
Many would like to see even more students get involved. “Knox is about creating an individual learning experience,” Lachman said. And creating art in public is a great way to do just that.

Chelsea Embree
Chelsea Embree is a senior majoring in creative writing and minoring in art history. She previously served as co-mosaic editor and as an arts and features reporter for TKS. During the summer of 2013, she served as a content intern at The St. Louis Beacon. Chelsea has studied under former Random House copy chief Sean Mills and taught writing as a teaching assistant for First-Year Preceptorial. An avid blogger, she has written extensively about youth in St. Louis and maintains a lively poetry and nonfiction blog on Tumblr. She is also the director of communications for Mortar Board and co-president of Terpsichore Dance Collective.

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