We have all heard the mantra that being well rounded is best. In the highly competitive world in which we live, having a varied interest base is vital to achieving anything. But for most, that lesson of well roundedness seems to evaporate once we achieve our goals of getting into college, grad school, or having a stable job. However, Stephan Koplowitz manages to keep that goal in mind every day of his life. Koplowitz devotes his life to facilitating interdisciplinary arts, weaving together dance, visual arts, music and more.

From an early age, Koplowitz was exposed to many types of arts. In an interview he remarked that “[a]s a young person, [he] started with piano lessons, had an interest in photography, then improvising music, then writing music for dance, then dancing, then choreography.” In order to keep up with all the different directions his passions were pulling him, Koplowitz had to get creative.

Throughout his undergraduate and graduate studies at Wesleyan and University of Utah respectively, he was constantly mixing and matching different art forms in order to create a piece that felt wholly right and his.

But his real passion in melding different art forms together comes from the need to explore “the nexus between the analog and digital worlds all mediated in [his] lifelong fascination with the human form and humanity.” People express themselves in so many different ways, so much so that it is often difficult to keep track of all the micro expressions and subtle undertones a person emotes throughout the day.

No one form of art is enough to contain all of the emotions or expressions people feel in their everyday life. The only way Koplowitz is able to accurately portray how humans really feel, think, and act is to mesh multiple forms of art together, which results in a completely new discipline.

The Bates community was lucky enough to have Koplowitz speak with many classes and give a lecture on Wednesday, January 25. Having completed his own education at a liberal arts school, Koplowitz was able to tell us here in the Bates community what that liberal arts education can really do for a person out there in the big, scary real world.

Koplowitz sees “Bates’ strong commitment to both liberal arts and creative arts naturally lead[ing] towards creating an intellectual space for students to explore and dialogue within all the arts. It allows for more ideas to flow, more interchange between faculty and students and allows for more experimentation and risk, taking all important parts of a healthy college and liberal arts education.”

But achieving this goal of a high level of collaboration is not easy; it takes persistence and practice. Koplowitz suggests that in order to achieve the aim of interdisciplinary work, students should “read every day. Interdisciplinary work is nothing without ideas. One does not get ideas without stimulation, contemplation, and education.”

I have always thought that books are good for the soul, and apparently, they are good for collaboration too.

Another point that this artist makes is that students should not be intimidated by the arts. Everyone has the ability to be creative because “it is a learned trait, it is not only ‘innate,’ we all need to nurture our creativity not matter how much ‘innate’ talent might be inside of us!” Just because someone is not born with the ability to sing on perfect key or knows how to do five pirouettes does not mean they should stop trying to learn how.

Above all else, when creating an interdisciplinary work, collaboration is key. Most of all collaboration should be “fun, exciting and can result in experiences that can’t be predicted or programmed but that like any relationship requires time, patience, and communication.” Communicate with those around you and the results might be more than you could have even imaged.