The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Author: Ariel Abonizio (Page 2 of 3)

Clinica de Migrantes and Politics: Filmaker Maxim Pozdorovkin Visits Bates

On Thursday, November 2, Bates hosted a screening of the documentary Clínica de Migrantes: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, by Maxim Pozdorovkin. The 39 minute film documented the routines of workers and patients of Puentes de Salud, a health care nonprofit organization for Latino immigrants. Beyond showing the daily workings of the clinic, Pozdorovkin peeks into the structural exclusion of undocumented immigrants from healthcare and labor rights.

The ideation of the documentary started around 3 years ago, with a possible Trump presidency slowly emerging in the horizon. The film shows a politically and emotionally charged reality that proposes a series of questions. After the screening, Pozdorovkin presented a few of his thoughts and concerns and answered questions from the audience.

Earlier that day, I had the chance to meet with Pozdorovkin in the Den along with other students interested in filmmaking. There, he explained the origin of Clínica de Migrantes. The filmmaker told us that he was contacted by HBO to investigate Puentes de Salud and see if there was a story for a documentary. Initially, Pozdorovkin was concerned that people would not be interested in having their medical appointments recorded, especially in the case of undocumented immigrants. There was a concern for the safety of the people as well as a consideration of the impact of a documentary on the clinic itself. After researching and talking to the patients and healthcare providers involved, Pozdorovkin determined that he could make a fruitful and non-invasive documentary, and he took on the project of recording the clinic.

According to the director, there was a sense of gratitude and visibility that people wanted to express. This humanity was apparent to other Bates students as well; “what stuck for me was how much the staff invested in their patients, not only in their health but in their lives,” Sydney Anderson ’20 stated.

I was personally fascinated by the ethical discussions that permeate representation and documentation. It can be challenging to portray the lack of basic rights without fetishizing pain and suffering; it seems to me that the filmmaker may have paid special attention to this question in the structuring of the documentary, which presents emotion as well as a critical understanding of American politics.

The timing of the documentary is striking. The fear of mass deportation with the Trump administration’s influence in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) puts the documentary into a new light. Pozdorovkin mentioned that Trump winning the election marked a change in the present American context of living. “It seemed prudent, especially during the current administration, to humanize the undocumented immigration issue,” Anderson mentioned.

In the Den, Pozdorovkin briefly mentioned a few of his other projects. One that stuck out to me was a short film called Our New President, which depicts the American President Donald Trump through the eyes of Russian media. The absurd situation of having a person such as Trump in power becomes even more surreal when presented alongside the fake news and state-controlled media outlets Pozdorovkin highlights in the short. The filmmaker seemed particularly excited about the lack of facts in the previously developed 12 minute short film; this short will expand into a feature-length production in the future.

Pozdorovkin mentioned the word “grotesque” to describe the state of Russian media presented in Our New President. He clarified that he used the word “grotesque” to mean a combination between the comic and the horrifying by blending what is funny and scary into one product. This definition presents a sense of bizarre hybridity that makes one uncomfortable with their own laughter regarding the current political situation.

If you could not attend the screening but would like to see the films, Clínica de Migrantes is available on HBO’s website and Our New President can be viewed on Vimeo. I strongly recommend viewing these two films; their honest portrayal of political issues in the US and abroad cannot be overstated.


Literary Arts Live hosts Jason Ockert

There is a unique sense of common experience in attending a live reading. However, if the added complexity of a live reading does not sound appealing to you, I would still recommend coming to Literary Arts Live. It is an incredible and recurrent opportunity to drink hot chai and have a personal conversation with accomplished writers such as Jason Ockert.

“Ockert read a very enticing story about an airplane and some guy hiking in Pennsylvania. His style reminds me a bit of Don Dellillo and David Foster Wallace’s brand of surrealism,” Christina Perrone ’20 commented. In the ambiguous nature of the airspace, reality and fantasy blend together. The story itself has very distinct sections that come together. His work is not only beautiful in descriptions and development but also in a structural sense. The writing is visibly challenging and complex, containing effective anchors, flashbacks, and parallelisms. It is not often that these structures are used in short stories precisely because of their succinctness. While it is hard for an untrained eye to recognize the complexity of these elements, we see these in movies and novels often. One of the privileges of having Ockert come to Bates is that these ideas can be discussed and explored.

Jason Ockert is the author of the novel Wasp Box and of two short story collections entitled “Rabbit Punches” and “Neighbors of Nothing.” Ockert is the winner of the Mary Roberts Rinehart Award, the Dzanc Short Story Collection Contest, and the Atlantic Monthly Fiction Contest. After the reading, Ockert answered a couple questions and chatted with students. I chatted with the author shortly about the writing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. We discussed how, at times, his short story flirted with the idea of magic realism and with structures of anticipation and flashback that I admire in One Hundred Years of Solitude by Marquez. I am fascinated by the interdisciplinary nature of English and writing, which easily overlaps the fields of Anthropology, American Cultural Studies, Theater, and so many others.

While this is a great resource for all students, I would recommend it especially to those interested in writing. As my first time attending the Literary Arts Live, I already look forward to next event.

The Ballroom Thieves Play at VCS

This last Thursday, October 5, the Bates community welcomed The Ballroom Thieves to VCS. The Ballroom Thieves had their Bates debut in 2015 and have performed here multiple times. The band has three members, Martin Earley on the guitar, Calin Peters on the bass, and Devin Mauch on the drums. As most bands performing at VCS, The Ballroom Thieves played a mixture folk and acoustic rock. With the fall semester picking up its pace and midterms approaching fast, their energetic performance was much needed.

I am not very knowledgeable about music. Even though I understand nothing about harmony, I could see that there was some sort of intimacy and balance in the Thieves’ performance. The three members seem to be very close to each other; I could see it when they glanced at each other. According to the band’s website, they have toured together for the past two years. Even though living on the road as a band may seem glamorous, the band cautioned against the unrealistic image of the adventurous travelling artist. It is hard to deal with breakdowns, financial challenges, and illness on the move.

Between songs, the performers would share a few stories. One of their comments was that the audience was “respectfully quiet.” And they were not wrong. Even during the band’s most energetic rock-ish songs, most of the audience would remain quiet and calm. Many Batesies were on their computers polishing some work. I couldn’t help but wonder if things would have been different if VCS was somewhat more like a concert. To my surprise, some people expressed the same opinion!

“[S]omething fun they could do is if a band that is coming has very danceable music, they could make the main area a dance spot. I don’t know if people would actually be willing to do that, but sometimes I wish I could get up and dance like at a concert,” Oriana Lo Cicero ’20 mentioned regarding what could potentially make VCS better. Between two songs, even The Ballroom Thieves mentioned that they would love to have a stand-up concert at Bates.

Even though I don’t go to VCS often, I enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of the weekly performances. The performances are consistent and you always know what to expect: good folk music, warm beverages, and company. “The chai and cookies gives a cozy coffee house vibe and they always pick great artists,” mentioned Lo Cicero who attends VCS weekly. This was the second time The Ballroom Thieves performed at Bates in 2017. They thanked Bates for the consistency and support. VCS is definitely entertaining for students and it is good to see that it promotes the arts in some ways.

If you need a pause on your Thursday, a study break, or a change in energy, VCS is for you. Next Thursday, October 12 VCS will host the Green Dot Student Showcase, in which students perform music, comedy, spoken word, and more. I hope to see you there!


The Manhattan Short Film Festival: 10 Powerful Shorts

This week of September 28 – October 8 marks the twentieth anniversary of the Manhattan Short Film Festival. Every year the festival selects ten short films that are screened all over the world. This year, the festival took place in 250 different cities across six different continents, which includes Lewiston! The Public Theater in Lewiston hosted the festival for three days, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The audience watched ten short films with an incredible variety of genres, styles, and languages and then cast a vote for Best Actor and Best Film. I expected quite a bit from the films since over 100,000 people watch the festival every year.
As a sophomore, I was quite surprised to realize that I had never been to The Public Theater, which is as close as a 25-minute walk from the Bates campus. The unusually warm night and vibrant moon made for a pleasant slow-paced stroll to the theater. Only upon arriving there, I realized how well known the festival is – the organizers received over 1,600 entries. Indeed, the ten finalists were amazing. The short films were from New Zealand, Spain, USA, United Kingdom, Latvia, Syria, Italy, the Netherlands and Georgia. It is hard to give a sense of the diversity of themes in these movies, who presented very different and unique works of art dealing with politics, identity, violence, illusionism, love, ghosts, and so on. They were all incredibly well done – it was sometimes hard to let go of one short film and start the following one immediately.
One interesting fact about the Manhattan Film Festival is that every short film among the ten finalists is qualified to run for the Oscars. On 2015, two films from the festival were actually nominated! After watching the screenings, I could understand how the festival has some much traction. The quality of the films is indeed incredible, with a combination of strong direction and skilled acting. A few of the plots managed to render me speechless. Short films have a magic way of working out color, composition, repetition, silence, and other components of filmmaking. There is a sense that every single shot in a short film is very carefully planned to bring the audience into an entire world in less than 20 minutes. Bringing emotion, climax, and character development in such a short amount of time is fantastic and every film was quite stunning in their own ways.
The genres in the festival included comedy, action, horror, visual essays, dramas, and historical dramas. In a Nutshell directed by Fabio Friedli, a stunning stop motion film about humanity itself, was completely different from Hope Dies Last directed by Ben Price in which a simple haircut summarized the fears of a true story based on the Holocaust.
While I appreciated the thematic diversity of the festival, it would unethical of me to ignore that of the 250 film venues, only three of them are placed in Asia, Africa and South America. Though the festival received submissions from many countries, it is problematic to prevent accessible viewing spaces for all populations. Moreover, the lack of people of color in film festivals is not particularly new or surprising, but must be noted in this article.
For more information and in order to take your own conclusions about the festival, venues, or short films, I invite you to check out the Manhattan Short website as well as their trailers for the 2017 festival, available on YouTube.

Back to Bates Dance Concert

This past Saturday and Sunday, Schaeffer Theatre was packed with Bates parents, students, and graduates eager to see performances at the Back to Bates Dance Concert. The show is the first dance and theater production of the year, marking the opening of another academic year for the arts at Bates. The show counted with the participation of students, alumni, and professional performers. According to Johanna Hayes ’19, one of the primordial goals of this dance concert was to depict the dance community at our college. “There is such a wide range of dance artists with all sorts of experience. We as a community want to keep growing this diversity and we’re happy that the Back to Bates Concert is such an open and inclusive showing for anyone that wants to present work,” Hayes said. The concert consisted of a number of different performances including independent studies, club performances, solos, duets, and the yearly first year dance performance as well.

The show as a whole had a fast pace. Performers had two and a half weeks to rehearse. Claire Sickinger ’19 mentioned that despite the challenge time posed, it was impressive to see all pieces coming together so well. Sickinger choreographed and performed a solo Accumulation Study I with an incredible use of motif and repetition. “I was thankful to be expressing myself and to be showing people what I was working on and how excited I was about the academic exploration that went into it. At that moment, I realized how much my confidence has grown since entering the dance program at Bates,” mentioned Sickinger.

One of the biggest advantages of the Back to Bates Dance Concert is the variety of performances that appear in the show. In some ways, it connects students through their common academic interest. In an exchange of emails, Hayes told me that it was fascinating to work with Flannery Black-Ingersoll ’19. “She is a dear friend and a brilliant mind that I am constantly inspired and stimulated by in the creation process.” Hayes and Black-Ingersoll performed One Left, a brilliantly arranged duet about one’s last day on Earth. “We all want great food, great love, sense of self, people to share with, and abandonment of fears,” Hayes explained. The piece had layers of movement, sound and voiceover – emotional responses were inevitable. Having support and people to collaborate with are two fundamental aspects of the arts at Bates, constantly being expanded and sought after.

It was incredible to see various motifs, choreographic styles, musical accompaniment, multimedia choices, and performers. Schaeffer welcomed first-years, returning students, and their families in a great hub of exchange. From the intense Breath Studies by Chaesong Kim ’18 and Divyamaan Sahoo ’17 to the first-year performance My People to Go to, the Back to Bates Dance Concert invites students to engage fully in the liberal arts and explore. This first concert of the year leaves us craving for more, eager to see more from Bates Dance as the year unfolds.


A Day Out at the Bates- Morse Mountain

This past Saturday, my friends and I decided to go to the Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation. We had gone to Clambake last year and this year we were up to trying something different and new. This pleasant sunny day bore no trace of a winter to come – it was the perfect day to explore. The one hour drive from campus went by in a blink. We were ready for a day at the “Bates beach.”

I must confess I am not very adventurous. I don’t own a car, I don’t have hiking boots, and my home town is a thousand miles away from the sea. As a slightly out of shape international student, it took me almost a whole year to start appreciating Maine. However, it would be hard not to enjoy the Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation and I wish I had visited it much sooner. The laid-back 30 minutes’ trail from the entrance of the conservation area to the beach was meditative. “I found that I had a much greater appreciation for the beach because of the hike in you have to take, so that when we eventually got to the beach it was a magnificent light,” says Madeline Schapiro ’20. The beach was truly magnificent; the balmy temperature created a fog that covered everything in glowing white sheets. The beach was slightly deserted and only a few silhouettes were visible in the distance.

As many other Batesies, I sometimes feel the sudden need to escape campus and create memories of a different sort. Everyday I realize that there is a priceless sensation in venturing into something new and exciting. On our hike back from the beach, we met a couple of Bowdoin alumni who quickly recognized us as college students. Even though they did not tell us their class, their white strands of hair seem to show a history that goes way back in time. They told us that when they were 20 or so a friendly Bates student introduced them to the “Bates beach” which they have sometimes visited ever since. For me, it was just refreshing to see the genuine looks on their eyes. I took the excited nostalgia of their voices as an unexpected part of what it means to have a liberal arts education. “It was just nice to see an enduring connection to a place because I can imagine us, as friends, doing the same one day when we are older,” mentioned Jesse Saffeir ’20 who had already visited the beach before.

As we headed back to Bates, I couldn’t help but think that my friends and I had found a place of our own. Not as physical spot but as a unique memory that will linger with us. You don’t have to be adventurous to appreciate Maine and its beautiful scenery. “I am upset that I hadn’t been there sooner. I think it would be a shame to go to Bates and never take the opportunity to go to a place as secluded and beautiful as that beach,” emphasized Schapiro. “The Maine coast has this Spartan, chill beauty to it that is really just a sight to behold,” mentioned Josh Andino ’20. Sometimes we just need to see the rush of the ocean breeze in the fall to understand that life is worth living. And, as it is often the case, it is a great day to be a Bobcat.

My America Too is here


Last Friday, March 3, the Benjamin Mays Center hosted My America Too. The show was part of the third session of the 2017 Mount David Summit, Bates’ annual celebration of academic research and creativity. My America Too was divided in six sections, each presenting new characters and storylines. The thread of the show was extremely powerful, centered on themes such as: police brutality, implicit bias, media partiality, racism, and disenfranchisement.

It is not unusual for Bates students to hear these words in discussions, in the media, or in politics, but My America Too brought a new perspective to the Black Lives Matter movement. It literally brought the problem home, showing that racism is not a distant reality but rather a constantly present issue here. It allowed for the audience to zoom in the impacts of violence and racism by depicting individual stories. The show directed by Assistant Technical Director Justin Moriarty showed the inner workings one cannot see in the news. My America Too shows the behind the scenes of violence, reminding us that human lives are complex and full of nuances.

The six scenes of the show were carefully ordered, presenting a range of perspectives on violence. The performance focused on individual acts of police brutality, on white people perpetrating violence, on the violence experienced by black families, and on the impacts of these forms of violence in every sphere of society. As stated by Moriarty in the Q&A that followed the performance, the scenes largely go from “micro to macro,” showing how the impacts of racism scale up from individual acts to infinitely looping videos in social media.

In the first scene, the audience sees a discussion between two police officers who shot a teenager. Two nameless characters, played by Samuel James ’17 and Dan Kuan Peeples ’17, seem to be in the immediate aftermath of their actions, in fear of losing their jobs and being crucified by the media. They fiercely discussed making decisions in a split-second. Empathy is impossible, since the officers have just killed someone and are now trying to understand how to justify their actions. James revealed some of the discomfort in playing his role. “How am I going to humanize those people who committed a heinous act?” he questioned.

It was interesting to start a performance about Black Lives Matter taking the perspective of police officers. In the Q&A, Erin Hazlett-Norman ’19 summarized the experience of watching this portion of the show. “It showed the stories people tell themselves and each other,” said Hazlett-Norman. A common thread in the performance was showing how racism exists into daily life and how it is established in real life. In one second, a character offers coffee, in the following second that same character mentions shovels, bricks, and concrete. In a split-second topics chance and in another a life is taken.

As the scenes go by, the effects of racism seem more and more distant, but never absent. In between each scene the audience could hear words from President Obama, discussing numerous cases of racial violence. In the last scene Michael Driscal ’19 played the president himself. Even though President Obama was physically distant from the cases of violence he talked about in his speeches, the last scene made it crystal clear that racism is present in all spheres of American society.

“If I hadn’t run…,” said the former president in a clear resonance with a previous scene dealing with the numerous cases in which black people were killed because of running. Associate Dean of Students for International Student Programs James Reese captured the impact of these lines and scenes in sequence. “In English class we make these connections. In real life they are more powerful,” he said.

One of the performances intentionally used props from Commons, showing that the topics being discussed don’t happen in a parallel reality. It is here that we have this discussions and it is here too that the racism exists. The entire performance was permeated by how we are sometimes not aware of the implicit biases that affect our decisions. “This is something everyone should be thinking about,” said the audience member Adrianna San Roman, visiting sister of Amanda San Roman ’17.

My America Too shows that theater for social change has an impact on reality. It can take the audience to new places and understandings, showing how racism feels and is experienced in daily life. Ultimately, it is about what we can do to make this world better.



Michael Driscal ’19 plays former President Barack Obama.



“I don’t get Lick-It. If it is about individuality, why does everyone dress the same?” This was the first comment I heard on the Friday morning before Lick It had taken place. At the time, my answer was simple but genuine: “I don’t know.” Maybe there was something about nakedness that made evident the uniqueness of each body. Maybe Lick-It was about being (or seemingly being) confident with oneself. Maybe it was simply beyond clothes, deeper and more profound than appearances. Later in the night, I was pleased to see that, whether dressing similar to one another or not, many people were having fun experimenting with clothing.

Lick-It is Bates’ annual celebration of individuality, organized by OutFront. This year was themed “the world of fantasy – dragons, magic, and melodramatic family affairs.” Lick-It has been a tradition at Bates for 23 years and it is considered one of the college’s dearest events. While the theme was brilliant, I was hesitant to consider the possibility of people transforming identities into costumes (see: Halloween). Despite my initial concern, Lick-It was more than costumes and “the naked dance.” While the Benjamin Mays Center had indeed more people than articles of clothing, this was simply one aspect of the night.

Aimee Oakes ’20 mentioned that she loves Lick-It. “You could go in your PJs,” mentioned Oakes. Even though there were many positive reviews, not everyone was comfortable with the atmosphere. Josh Andino ’20, described it as “a wild crashing of bodies. I’m not saying it wasn’t good, but it was much more crowded than other Silo events, and it did get a little bit sweaty and nasty after some time.” Jin Wei ’20 took another perspective: “I wished to see more people being themselves during Lick-It,” he mentioned.

On Saturday, March 25, Gala happened. It was the 28th annual event, themed “Under the Sea.” There were two different live performances happening simultaneously, intertwined with student performances. Drew Collins ’20 mentioned that “the bands were awesome; it was great to have two different ambiences and rooms.”

While the music and ambience were impressive, I was truly astonished by how people dressed. Having both swing music and top hits made my night. “It was two different scenes coexisting,” mentioned Collins. Needless to say, Gala had countless articles of clothing in comparison to Lick-It.

Much like Lick-It, Gala did not please everyone. Oakes ’20 said she preferred Lick-It over Gala. “Gala was different. It wasn’t about being comfortable; my feet hurt all night,” said Oakes.

Gala and Lick-It are very different, and yet very similar. There is no contradiction in wearing a suit one day and flowery skirts in another. In contrast, these events show that identity and individuality are complex.

This weekend, comfort and discomfort coexisted, boundaries were broken and reinstated. A Bates Student article on Lick-It from 2013 by Grace Pezella quoted previous OutFront coordinator, Jarron Brady ’15, and is worth comparing to this year’s event. Brady mentioned that “Bates doesn’t want to be a sexually repressed campus, but it doesn’t really know how to express itself.” I have heard from people that loved Gala and Lick-It and from people who did not. Four years have passed but Brady’s comment is still relevant to our community.

At least Batesies seemed to agree: Gala’s food was exceptional.


The band in Alumni Gym rocks top hits

Barakah Meets Barakah: We are living in disguises

“Phantom Punch: Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia in Lewiston,” was an exhibition full of events. Since October 18, when the show was inaugurated, Bates has hosted talks, performances, tours, and screenings.

Last Friday, March 17, one last event took place: a screening of the Saudi Arabian movie Barakah Meets Barakah. The comedic drama was premiered at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival and later selected as the Saudi Arabian representative for the Best Foreign Language Film in the 89th Academy Awards. The themes of the movie are timely; discussions of development, generational conflict, tradition, gender, class, culture, imperialism, and Islam are central to understanding the globalized, interconnected, and cross-cultural nature of the twenty-first century.

Barakah Meets Barakah is a nuanced love story. The plot revolves around Barakah Urabi, a municipal law officer in Jeddah, and Bibi, an Instagram celebrity and brand representative in Saudi Arabia. Barakah meets Bibi in an open-air photo shoot. Bibi is not wearing an abaya, the full-length dressing that covers body and hair. Even though it is implied that the photo shoot is against the law, Barakah does not break the party and seems to find interest in the strong, independent, and daring character of Bibi.

In a discussion after the movie, I found that municipal law officers in Saudi Arabia are often stereotyped as killjoys. Interestingly, Barakah breaks this typecast; he is empathetic and lenient in his duty. Similarly, Bibi’s identity is not reducible to the stereotype of futile Instagram star. As the storyline develops, Bibi and Barakah get closer despite the segregations of gender in Saudi Arabia, where unrelated men and women cannot legally meet in public spaces.

Barakah Meets Barakah has its own satirical tone. There is a sense of subtlety in Barakah Meets Barakah – things are not simple and things are not always what they seem to be. Every scene hides an entire story. In the discussion that followed the movie, one audience member mentioned the disguises of the characters that, at some points cross-dress. These costumes are not only a commentary on gender normativity in Saudi Arabia, but perhaps a larger statement about disguise itself.

The movie questions the simplicity of stereotypes. Ultimately, Barakah Meets Barakah blurs the dualism that seems characteristic of foreign conceptions of Saudi Arabia. Bibi, for instance, complicates the idea of generational differences and gender normativity. Sometimes she complies with her guardian’s wills but sometimes she doesn’t. Sometimes she is powerless in a patriarchal society and sometimes she is the independent character who dresses as a man to drive a luxury car in a country in which women are not allowed to drive.

The very first moments of the movie are about censorship, attesting that the pixilation of some scenes is not a statement about censorship in Saudi Arabia. Throughout the movie, there are several pixelated scenes of women’s faces and bodies in advertisement, alcohol, and lingerie; however, the pixilation is not regular. “If it is censorship, it is sloppy,” said one of the audience members in the discussion that ensued the screening. There were scenes in which alcohol and body parts were not pixelated.

In times of extreme positions and extremism, Barakah Meets Barakah reveals the grey areas that have no name, the intermediaries in a larger continuum.

It is challenging to capture in words the depth of Barakah Meets Barakah. Throughout the movie, there were moments in which the plot would delicately enter the realm of magic realism. One of the side stories in the film shows a person carrying pink cotton candy on the streets. In recent decades, Saudi Arabia made efforts to restrict commerce to private spaces, directly impacting the nameless character.

Barakah never gets to stop that person, who magically disappears before his eyes. The peddler seemed to simply carry joy with him. “His disappearing is symbolic of the little things that made people happy,” theorized Leena Nasser, a Bates alumna and Saudi citizen. The complexity, the longing for the past, and the melancholy coexist with comedy and love.

As we say goodbye to “Phantom Punch: Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia in Lewiston” and to some of the little things that make us happy, Barakah Meets Barakah teaches us to think beyond the imaginary boundaries of dualism. It leaves us with the hope that tradition inspires innovation and vice versa. With every beginning comes a new end; it may be time to admit that beginnings and endings coexist.


Find place, peace, and responsibility: an upcoming art show

On Friday, March 17, the Ronj will host the Sustainable Ethics Week Art Show. The show, organized by the EcoReps. is designed to promote an interdisciplinary take on sustainability while acknowledging and celebrating student achievements in the arts. The show will be primarily composed of photographs by students of all backgrounds and class years united under the theme “Your Environment.” This event is part of a series of events happening during the Sustainable Ethics Week to promote awareness and discussion about sustainability in the community. The show will be in the Ronj for a limited time that has yet to be officially announced.

Even though the Sustainable Ethics Week had its first edition last year, this will be the first art show associated with the event. Talking to some upperclassmen, I found that there used to be an event similar to the Sustainable Ethics Week. Since the art show is one of the new activities in the week, there is much to expect from it. The organizers are EcoReps: Katharine Gaillard ’19, Madeline Mcgonagle ’18, and Abby Horrisberger ’18. They have been working on planning for the event since mid-February and will curate the artworks as a group. I have heard excitement about what sort of conversations and discussions an art show under this theme may inspire.

According to the organizers, the theme came from conversations with the Bates Photo Club, which has supported the event in getting more submissions. The Bates Art Society, Outing Club, and various art professors have also helped in the publicizing of the event. The theme has called the attention of students for being open to interpretation: “Your Environment” can be represented however artists interpret it. In an interview with Gaillard, she mentioned that sustainability has a different meaning for each of us and talking about it may be a new way to connect with people.

Maddy Smith ’20 is one of the artists that submitted artwork for the show. In interview, they told me their reasons to submit photos came from a trip to Norway and Svalbard. “It was a trip that fundamentally changed my view of the environment. In the cruise ship I was on, we traveled up to the boundary of the sea ice, which was miles further north than normal because of the unseasonably warm temperatures there. While in Norway and Svalbard, I saw both unprecedented beauty and fragility. Seeing the effects of global warming firsthand made me fear for the well-being of the places I care about,” mentioned Smith. According to them, photography is a way to realize how beautiful the world is and why it is so important to preserve it.

Colleen Hoyt ’20 also submitted photographs to the show. Emphasizing the importance to have different perspectives on sustainability and on the environment, Hoyt seemed excited that each perspective on the environment will be unique in the show. “Shows like this are important to me and really everyone because they allow others to see the world from a fresh, unique perspective, which helps them learn more about the various people and cultures of the world,” mentioned Hoyt. Like many other Batesies, Hoyt is passionate about nature. In her words “there is just so much beauty and simplicity waiting to be found in the natural world.”

This coming Friday, March 17, one can expect to see a variety of ways to interpret the environment. The organizers mentioned that the show is aiming to promote an interdisciplinary understanding of sustainability. Hopefully, this art show will bring a new lens through which Bates students can understand their relationship to their environment and their responsibility as inhabitants of this planet.


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