Q: What Could Be Better Than Studying in the Watercolor Studio?

A: An Art department!

“Honest and earnest criticism from those whose interests are most nearly touched… this is the soul of democracy and the safeguard of modern society” ~ W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk

Sitting at the paint-splattered tables in the room-formerly-known-as-the-watercolor-studio, I watch the sky darken through the enormous windows.  It’s a good place to study, always quiet and full of a gentle, calming vibe (it must be something to do with those big windows, the paint on every surface, the vases full of plastic flowers balancing on the edge of the sink, the half-finished canvases lounging on the shelves) but I find its emptiness occasionally unnerving.  The halls of the North Side of Brodie feel almost eerie sometimes; sure, people pass through on their way to and fro dance studios and the theater and Art History offices and the very occasional fine arts course but generally the halls are as empty as the walls (and the walls are very empty).  As I ponder the emptiness of the space, I feel an old frustration bubble up.  The parts of the campus that formerly housed the Art department seem to scream of an “If only…”

Continue reading “Q: What Could Be Better Than Studying in the Watercolor Studio?”

Is Sustainable Attainable?

Group members: Yadelin Fernandez, Jen Galvao, Michee Jacobs, Maria Papas, Jessica Riley, Courtney Statt, Toby Youngman

The International Institute for Sustainable Development defines sustainable development as, “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” When considering sustainability, there are many markers that determine whether or not an action or means of production is sustainable. The three pillars of sustainability include economic visibility, social equity, and economic viability. According to this definition, something cannot be sustainable unless it meets all three factors. However, this is the question we kept coming back to: is it possible to meet all three of these pillars? It is hard to visualize a solution because we are bound by systems already in place which we may not even know we participate in.

The heating plant is a strong example of a  complex system that many people on campus are unaware of but are simultaneously benefitting from. Prior to our visit, none of us had ever been inside of the heating plant, with the smokestack being our only indication that something was there. We weren’t even cognizant of the level of organization that heating a campus takes. As students, we often take for granted that we will be given the heat we need to be comfortable in our daily lives. As a group, this visit led us to consider the layers of production and the ways we passively participate in systems of consumption. Without having considered exactly where our heat was coming from, we also overlooked who was responsible for heating the campus. The quality of our heat is dependent upon the labor of the workers in the heating plant, yet because we operate in different spheres on the same campus, we are unaware of the work that goes into such a process. This is comparable to the interaction between the protagonist and Mr. Brockway in chapter ten of Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. Before speaking with Mr. Brockway, the protagonist was unaware of the systematic layers that existed in the paint factory. Initially, he assumes the paint is made upstairs, to which Mr. Brockway responds, “Naw, they just mixes in the color, make it look pretty. Right down here is where the real paint is made.” In this instance, the protagonist was only aware of the process that he was shown when he first arrives at the paint factory and has no understanding of things taking place beneath the surface. Continue reading “Is Sustainable Attainable?”