The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

A Journey Through Le Ronj’s Art Museum

Ashley Taylor
Illustrations of Frye Street Houses by Maddie Kemp ’24.

I walked into a variety of smells – coffee, matcha, chai and vanilla lattes – and the warm glow of lights. Students sat studying and chatting, doing their homework and sipping their coffee. Le Ronj, the student-run coffee shop, has been open since 1997 and is known to be a great study space for students. One thing that people may not know, however, is that Le Ronj has many fun events like concerts, trivia and even an art museum! 

On March 10, art was on display and even being sold by Bates students. These students gathered in the back room of Le Ronj to set up their tables, or find wall space, to display their art. From scrunchies to sweaters to stickers, the Bates students showed their wide variety of creativity. 

I carried my newly made chai latte as I walked into the back of Le Ronj. Not only was there art on display, but a student was DJ-ing in the back, and a table displayed fancy cheeses to snack on. 

To start my museum experience, I first walked up to the table run by Allison Baker ’26, who was selling a collection of colorful crocheted items. She had several intricately designed hats, but one resembling the colors of the sunset caught my eye. She even displayed a collection of flower-shaped coasters, frog pins, keychains and stickers. She explained that she had started crocheting just last spring, but had gotten very into it, even joining the KnitWits club in the fall. The first thing that Baker had ever crocheted was a Penguin Wooble. Woobles, a product seen on ABC’s Shark Tank, is a crochet kit for beginners. Since this kit, Baker has come a long way. The star of her table was a collection of crocheted sea creatures, which had taken an hour and a half each to crochet. 

Next, I made my way to a unique set of works that used a new medium: paint! Maddie Kilfoyle ’24 started getting into painting more and more over the summer. She recently studied abroad in Portugal and was inspired to paint some of the scenes that she had seen there. She had a vertical painting of a sun shining on a house in Portugal. Kilfoyle was also inspired by Maine; she painted a picture of a barn that she had seen there. She even used seashells that she had found there (as well as in a few other places) as her canvases! She painted a picture of a sunset from Lisbon, Portugal on a clamshell. She also painted a sleeping cat on another shell. 

Sitting next to Maddie Kilfoyle ’24 was Francisca Rocha ’24. Rocha had learned to crochet from her Grandma when she was five. Then she picked it up again during the COVID lockdown of 2020, working to perfect her craft. Her favorite piece that she has ever made was a daisy top. On display at the art museum, she had several scrunchies. I had never seen a crocheted scrunchie before, and these came in cute and unique colors! Rocha was also selling leg warmers that she had made while she was abroad in Copenhagen. In front of her table, she even had a knitted piece – a warm, pink sweater.

Then I saw something glittering in my periphery; on display were pairs of earrings made by Meghan Billings ’26. She had started making earrings a year ago, having always been intrigued by funky earrings. Today, she had made several dangly earrings with colorful beads on them. Billings even had two pairs of earrings made with bottle caps: “I used pliers and a whole lot of grit. It took about 10-20 minutes to make each pair,” she explained. 

At the same table as Billings, Lean Dockery ’26 was selling her prints. Dockery is a TA for one of the print classes, and she made a print inspired by her love of mushrooms and energy drinks. To make this, she carved out a print on rubber; then she pressed this into a piece of paper, allowing the negative space to create a print! Dockery’s work displayed a mushroom with a heart-eyed character sitting on top of it, who was leaning against a Rockstar energy drink. 

Next up, was Emma Upton ’24, a visual arts major who had created several unique prints. To describe her first print, she explained that she “took a cabbage, put ink on it, and then put it through the press.” Additionally, to create a pomegranate print, she carved a shape out of one block, printed it and then carved more shapes out of different blocks and printed those. Everyone was impressed when someone asked her how long it had taken her to make one of her self-portraits, and she replied “Three to five minutes!” I was particularly curious about a print with multiple flowing colors pressed into it. She explained that to make this one, she had taken the leftover ink from old rags by putting them on the press. These rags had cleaned up the paint that had been left behind, and then she had turned this excess paint into an impressive print. 

Closer to the back of the room, Maddie Kemp ’25, an art history major, stood by a collection of her illustrations. She had drawn six different houses on Frye Street, including Chase and FSU. Her method involved taking pictures of these houses, and then sketching them freehand. “I bought a packet of markers from Walmart and I just grab from them,” she laughed. Each house was drawn in a vibrant color, like red or blue, which made them stand out when compared to gray pencil sketches. 

The last table that I visited was a sticker table run by Cal Shrupp ’24. You may have already seen some of his stickers on people’s computers in the library. Shrupp has been making stickers for three years, and he draws most of them by hand. He described how he uses his Dad’s old dental tools to peel the stickers apart. The only stickers that he orders are the ones that he doesn’t make by hand. He has everything from “Babes College” stickers, to jellyfish and mushroom stickers.

As I headed out, I heard people walking in: “Where’s the art museum? Oh it’s over there!” one of them said. Not only did Bates students like to share their art, but they also appreciated each other’s work. This left me with a feeling of warmth as I headed back out into the chilly night air.

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