Bantam Artists of the Week: Inter-Arts Students

DIANA ROSE SMITH ’19
CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Trinity is finally getting back into the swing of things, now that the wave of students moving back to campus has settled. Among the bustling, wide-eyed incoming freshmen is a multitude of talents. Twenty eight of these passionate students took their first steps to becoming accomplished artists in the Inter-arts Seminar.
For their first creative assignment, the Inter-artists were all given four quotes to inspire an art project in their respective media. Over the summer, they devoted their time to create something creative and transformative; and every project truly accomplished that. There were a wide range of different art forms from theatre performances to paintings, and each deserves recognition. But, to highlight one of each of these art forms, I interviewed three different freshmen in the Inter-arts Seminar: Sophie Priddy, Hayden Mueller, and Isabel Exstein.
Sophie’s main focus is in visual art and painting. The quote she chose was one from Tristan Tzara, “I have a mad and starry desire to assassinate beauty.” Her painting was intentionally simple and depicted a woman whose features were similarly plain. It was important to her to paint someone that was realistic and not defined by conventionally attractive features. She chose to create a person with unique coloring due to a skin condition called Vitiligo. During her presentation of the painting, she explained that Vitiligo affects the body’s production of melanin and causes areas of a person’s skin to lack the individual’s natural pigmentation. She wanted to portray a woman who displayed confidence and was empowered by her body’s unique features, rather than ashamed by them. She avoided smoothing out irregularities and purposely structured an asymmetrical face to prevent creating a photo-shopped appearance. Sophie chose the quote that she did because it reminded her of Ruby Rose’s efforts to change the conventional way we view beauty. She told me about her dislike of traditional beauty standards in today’s world. She says, “[beauty standards] really bother me because people are all unique, and rigid standards don’t allow for acceptance of all versions of beauty”. For the finishing touch to her piece, Sophie tore up pictures from magazines and memorabilia to cover the background behind her figure as a literal “assassination of beauty.” Overall, the piece was a visual representation of unconventional beauty and nonconformity.
Sophie only recently started painting, but art has always been a significant part of her life. She is hoping to continue her artistic expression here through the Mill and studio art work either in a class or self-directed.
Hayden, at the other end of the artistic spectrum, has been involved in theatre since his freshman year of high school and has performed in various other music and arts groups since grade school. For his project, he worked all summer to write and perform a monologue. As an actor, human interaction plays a dramatic role in his art. As he explained to me, “human interaction is one of the most integral parts of a fulfilled life; contact, skin to skin, is vital to health.” This is why he chose the quote, “skin has become inadequate in interfacing with reality; technology has become the body’s new membrane of existence,” from Nam June Paik. He wanted to completely reject the idea that “technology could replace humanity, [and] beyond that, express the potential danger of withdrawal from physicality.” To accomplish this, he transformed into a grieving son who was speaking at his mother’s funeral. From the moment he stepped on stage, the normally relaxed and lighthearted Hayden became a neurotic, grief stricken individual. Frazzled and unstable, he fully immersed himself in this character to convey the effect of the failure of the relationship between mother and child due to technology. His story was depressingly universal as he explained how his mother’s life truly ended years earlier with “the creation of her Facebook account.” Hayden’s performance was a raw and emotional portrayal of the inherent importance of human-to-human communication and his own “rejection of high-tech dependence.”
Hayden plans to continue his acting and artistic expression through the fall play, It’s Funny You Should Ask, and through other work as an actor on campus. He plans to help with senior theses that involve such positions and hopes to pursue his own degree in Theatre and Dance.
Finally Isabel, who is a blossoming musician, combined writing and music to create a performance piece with audio. She expressed her initial surprise at how her piece came to be. In her words, “it just kind of happened.” She broke down the quote from Marcel Duchamp, “destruction is also creation.” The idea that resonated with her most when she thought of this quote was creating a mashup of several songs. Isabel has been a part of several musical ensembles throughout high school and continues her music through Chapel Singers and Composition Class at Trinity.
Because of her extensive musical background, she was able to “destroy” 38 songs and piece them back together to create a song of her own. Her new composition conveyed a message that was meant to empower the “upset soul.” She thought about songs that made her happy, combining lyrics to create a whole new story. She told me it didn’t take long before she could string together “cause you’re so amazingif you’d just realize you artitanium”—words meant to provide her listeners with hope and encouragement.
Accompanying her musical composition was a spoken word poem that Isabel wrote to resemble the action of breaking down. She wanted to further allow the music to be symbolic of creation. She stood in a single spotlight at center stage and captured the attention of her audience with her emotion. Then with a bold “at least I am more whole now,” her head dropped and the lights went out. Immediately her composition rang through the venue. Isabel accomplished creating something powerful and full of emotion from destroying things that already existed. She is continuing her artistic expression through the Mill, Chapel singers, Iron Poets, and through self-directed writing and composing.
Overall, the work the Inter-arts Seminar completed over the summer represents the growing range of talents across our campus. Each artist approached the project as an opportunity to share a lesson with the rest of the group. Their messages were each eye-opening and invaluable. The interpretations and representations were all unique and absolutely stunning. After experiencing such amazing artwork and creativity, I can attest that the artistic community is alive and forever expanding here at Trinity.

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