Art-in Exhiliration

Today, well rather yesterday, Thursday, the Bates community put creative thought into action and completely came together for what was called an “Art-In.” Two seniors, Grif Peterson and Jake Lewis, teamed up to put on some what of a guerilla performance/exhibit/gathering in Chase Hall, posing the question “Where can our art go?”

The tagline “Find this art a home” had been utilized throughout the week in advertisements ranging from costumers working on mannequins outside of lunch as fabric fluttered in the wind to musicians marching around alumni walk trying to play their instruments, to paintings being created wedged in snowbanks. The word had gotten out: Chase Hall, Thursday, 4-6.

This reflects a greater attitude amongst Bates students to revive the arts (!) — the enthousiasm and the creativity exists in the student body, now we just need to augment the support that Bates gives the arts in order to better insulate this excitement. The space, Old Commons, is HUGE and empty, save a Bates Musicians Union practice room that, since being put up, is booked nearly all the time.

Jake and Grif sought to get any and everyone who participates in the arts at Bates to get involved. And it worked. The event was sponsored by (and featuring students from) the Bates Musicians Union, Bates Public Art Club, Robinson Players, WRBC 91.5FM, The Dance Club, Deansmen, Strange Bedfellows, SEED, The Photography Club, Studio Art Majors, Film Club, The Ronj, etc.

Proudly donning my Robinson Players tshirt, I showed up an hour early to set up / generally help out as much as I possibly could. From the second Jake introduced the idea at a Robinson players meeting a few weeks ago, I knew that I wanted to help. And I could, it was so easy– and everyone was really happy to have help, too! After taping down drop cloths under tables that would be painted upon, a pottery wheel that would be thrown on, and a great big canvas on the ground for improvisational paint dancing, I got prepped for my real job: guided tours of the space!

I was in a different mindset than a great percentage of the attendees of the event, since I was never at Bates when old Commons was in use. I have no fond memories of spending my days there, nor did I, before today, have any idea of what kinds of space and possibilities lie in the vast expanses of building that exists behind closed doors. Along with the president of the Rob Players, I gave tours on the half hour bringing people around the space, showing them all the room, allowing them to see the emptiness and let their own imaginations run wild with what could happen there. My last tour was the most exciting– President Hansen came along to see what it was all about.

There lies perhaps the best part– attendance to this completly student run initiative was insane! Hundreds of people came in and out over the two hour span, including students, deans, prospective students who wandered through from admissions, and the President of the college! They watched student films, wrote collective poems, saw dance performances and musicians, took part in Strange Bedfellows improv comedy workshops, painted their faces, suggested bands for the WRBC to bring for concerts, appreciated countless artist’ work displayed on every wall and much more.

I can’t imagine a way which it could have gone better. I didn’t want it to end, I was actually having so much fun. This is the kind of thing that, in reality, could happen any day at Bates  – the arts exist at Bates, it’s just a question of nourishing them and letting them explode.

About nbrouder
I'm a senior at Bates College getting ready for thesis and the real world!

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