I Am an Onlooker

Yesterday I made a trip over to Chestnut Hill College for a reason other than writing poetry – I wanted to attend the Senior Seminar presentations in art.

If you follow my poetry blog, you know that I go to the library here every week to write. A few weeks ago I noticed posters for these presentations taped on the library doors. I decided I’d check it out. I was interested to see what the students would have to say and I was curious about the art studio facilities, too.

So I arrived at the campus and climbed the hill to St. Joseph’s Hall.

St. Joseph’s Hall, Chestnut Hill College, April, 2017.

This building is formed in a T shape – the front façade being the top of the T with the Rotunda in the middle. The main part of the building extends out the back. The art studio is located on the top floor in the left side of the T top, as you look at the building. What a fantastic location! Windows on three sides of the room and huge skylights.

The building was constructed in 1903 and I believe this room was always meant to house an art studio. And – we are really high up in the air. We can look down on the top of the flagpole from the window.

One of the professors told me that when the students want to do landscape paintings, but the weather is bad, they have a panoramic view from inside the room to use instead. And it is true.

We settled in to listen to the presentations. The art department is small at this school – there were only three seniors. It was obvious from their work that they were given a great deal of attention and support and they had thrived in it. The senior project involved not only creating artworks, but doing so as to carry out a theme, and using more than one medium; the project also included a written paper. Each student’s work was well-thought out and went into some depth. I went away having learned something from each one.

After the presentations we went out into the art gallery to view the works themselves. This space is located on the mezzanine of the fifth floor outside the studio.

As you can see, we are really high up in the building! I have a fear of heights and I stayed away from the (substantial) railing, but there was plenty of room and I did not feel afraid. I had a chance to talk to each student, ask questions, and see the work up close. I really enjoyed this part of the experience because I enjoy comparing what I see in the work with what the artist intended.

Finishing up, I took a few pictures looking over the railing. This took some courage for me!

I had not really understood the scope of the day’s events. It turned out that all seniors were presenting their major projects – either making an oral or a poster presentation. (The tables below were being prepared for some of the posters/students). I made my way downstairs (slowly, taking some time to wander around the building – it was a good time to do it, as the place was full of visitors and so I was not the only one craning my neck at the views…).

By that time the rest of the event was in full swing. There were several rooms of posters and students standing in front of them, ready to answer questions.

I also learned that students in other academic disciplines were giving oral presentations.

Next year I’ll be better prepared and I’ll stop in on some of these as well. As it was, I walked around the room and talked to several students – topics including Hemingway, abnormal psychology, art therapy…any interest you might have had, I believe you could have found a student ready to talk about it.

I came away very impressed with the students and with the college for providing them with the chance to shine like this. I had a great time and I’ll be looking for another trip back here this time next year. Look where art takes you!

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10 thoughts on “I Am an Onlooker

  1. Claudia McGill Post author

    Oh, that’s great. What a lot of fun your son has to look forward to in college, I think. I did not study art, so I can’t say from my own experience, but I was impressed with what these students did and they obviously loved their studies.

  2. Claudia McGill Post author

    Exactly how I feel. I am sure this kind of event doesn’t appeal to many as an outing, let’s say. But I loved it and couldn’t stop talking about it. There was so much that went on- layer after layer.

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