Many Geneseo students may find themselves upset with the lack of the representation of visual art on-campus, but like a lot of art-based Geneseo organizations, Campus Canvas is trying to change that.
Campus Canvas began last year in spring 2017 as a forum for students to express their creativity and opinions about Geneseo in a physical presentation. The project consists of various thought-provoking artistic installments around campus for a week-long period, this year taking place from Sunday April 1 to Sunday April 8.
Since then, the production of Campus Canvas has been transformed into a class called INTD: 188 Exp: Art Talks II-Campus Canvas, which was preceded by a general informative arts class, Ex: Art Talks-Concepts in Art I. Both of these classes are taught by assistant professor of English Lytton Smith and Director of the Office of Sustainability Dan DeZarn.
Smith and DeZarn try to scale away from the typical professor-run class. They allow students to take the lead and instead help the class with their own background in art—Smith with creative writing and English and DeZarn’s as the former Chair of the art department—according to Smith.
“One thing about Dan’s role is that he’s aware of the time when you would walk through campus and you would see art everywhere and you would stumble into things and it would change the way you moved through campus,” Smith said.
This “art everywhere” idea is the main approach of the Campus Canvas initiative this year: “Open Space.” This theme reflects the need for Geneseo students to have a place to express their artistic talents and themselves, as opposed to last year’s more political motive, according to Art Talks students senior Jessica Lisi and senior Lizzie Pellegrino.
“We wanted to create spaces for art, [and for it] to bleed into every other space within the campus,” Lisi said. “I think a lot of people are really disappointed with the lack of art on-campus and how it continuously is being cut and it really has an effect, so we want to change that and bring awareness to this.”
The “Open Space” idea is more than just a general concept. It’s about getting basic art needs met on campus.
“[It’s] also kind of in dialogue with other people on-campus who are trying to get a makerspace to happen,” Pellegrino said. “A makerspace would essentially be … a place to make stuff that’s open to students most of the time, if not all of the time.”
During the week, there are multiple installations and activities that promote the arts on-campus, like the Scream Phone Booth Box, Little Rooms or the Community Block Project, to name a few.
The Scream Phone Booth Box is located in Fraser Hall and gives students a place to just scream.
Little Rooms is an activity where an organization or individuals were given an empty black box and told to represent their identity inside it. After the activity produced amazing results, these boxes were then distributed to “study spaces” all over campus, according to Lisi.
Additionally, the Community Block Project is a box sculpture located in the MacVittie College Union lobby. Students are encouraged to interact with it by either building onto it or dismantling it.
“[The Block Project] is really cool because it’s this structure that’s constantly being reworked and that’s very much a community oriented project,” Pellegrino said.
As the Campus Canvas week continues, Pellegrino and Lisi encourage students to get involved and keep art on-campus no matter what, especially by either participating in Campus Canvas or just in the arts in general.
“You don’t need Campus Canvas to create,” Lisi said. “Bring back the arts as any way you want because it’s a community effort. So keep creating, keep trying to find ways to bring art on-campus and keep trying to find ways to keep art within liberal arts.”