When I first arrived at Bates this fall, I was in awe of the campus. It had everything I had wanted in a college campus: a spectacular dining facility, a comfortable dorm and excellent places to study. But as time went on, I felt like something was missing. The campus was stunning– but at times, I sensed a vacancy. Where was the art?
There were, of course, pieces scattered around some academic buildings. A lovely blue abstraction perched above a library stairwell, some charcoal sketches sprinkled here and there. We had a wonderful museum, but the art seemed isolated to that area of campus. The art that I did see was extraordinary– but I felt like I had to look for it.
I think that art can be an impactful medium through which we can develop ourselves and our ideas. I come from a background in arts; I attended a heavily arts-oriented high school, and I’ve worked at an arts center for several years. I’m accustomed to understanding art as an essential component of any landscape, so it’s satisfying to watch this continued at Bates. But I think we can do even better.
I think art can be more than something to see intermittently. Rather than something to fill the void of an empty wall, I think that art can play an even greater role on campus. I think that it can be more than just something to pass by, or stumble upon occasionally. I think art should be in your face.
I think there is real value in recognizing the value of art in an environment. After all, it’s value extends beyond pure aesthetics– art can be political, philosophical and deeply intellectual. And art is not only as important as any other academic discipline, but has the power to achieve things that other disciplines cannot. I think that it’s through art that we can articulate ideas that are difficult to express otherwise.
Art can be an outlet for discussion– and a very effective one too. We have several essential forums for discussion on campus, the Bates Student being one. I think that art is another.
After all, art has the power to resonate with people in a way that forums do not. Art isn’t hidden away in newspaper dispensers or tucked away online. It’s a visible element of the spaces in which we live, in a way that other intellectual forums are not. One can choose not to read a newspaper article, but I think there is an inevitability to art. As you go about your day, you digest it– whether you intend to or not.
So I hope this forum article serves to recognize the importance of another essential forum. I think that in the wake of the election, our minds are brewing with ideas. Some will speak these ideas through the newspaper, and other forums. But I think that art can be an equally important voice. So, through whichever medium best suits you, let’s keep the conversation going.