Rarely do students get to see a gym coach sculpt or an economics professor play music with his band. ArtWorks, an annual program developed in 2006, provides a forum through which faculty and staff can show off their art to the greater Dartmouth community. This year’s event was held at the Hopkins Center on March 20 and 21.
“It felt to me like entering a professional gallery when I entered the finished [ArtWorks] exhibit in Alumni Hall,” Rachel Sarnoff ’12, Presidential Fellow in the Office of the Provost and ArtWorks coordinator, said.
ArtWorks, currently in its seventh year, allows over 70 Dartmouth employees to present their art to a larger audience. Faculty were given the opportunity to create pottery, music, poetry, paintings, drawings and other mixed media projects, and the exhibition was divided into these respective categories.
“I think ArtWorks is a wonderful program that builds community among those of us who work here,” Christina Cook, senior writer at the President’s Office, said. “Getting to see the creative energies and talents of our colleagues is a rare and special opportunity, and I wanted to be a part of that.”
Cook submitted a collection of poems entitled “Lake Effect” to this year’s show, which serves as an elegy to her mother. The poems wrestle with Cook’s mother’s death through the lens of the natural surroundings of her family’s lake house. Cook said she wants her poems to possess a musical quality. By focusing on length and meter, Cook said she free-writes using words and sounds she comes across everyday. She values the opportunity to recite her poetry in a public setting through ArtWorks, as she feels her writing is only fully realized when read aloud, she said.
Economics professor Robin Lull, who writes and arranges his own music, also performed with his band HeartFire during the ArtWorks exhibition. He describes his music as “eclectic,” as it encompasses many diverse styles, ranging from electronica to country, to pop, rock, progressive rock and ballad rock. Lull and his band also play multiple instruments, including the keyboard, guitar, drums and electronic percussion, he said. Lull admitted he was excited yet apprehensive about the chance to play his music in front of his coworkers.
“You really are putting your heart on your sleeve, and reaching out to people on the deepest of levels,” he said. “[Performing] is nerve-racking but elating at the same time I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Many other faculty members from a variety of departments displayed their work this week as part of ArtWorks. Julie Kalish ’91, a lecturer with the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric, created four collage pieces composed of unique materials while psychology professor Terry Sackett painted a picture of Mount Moosilauke. Athletics coach Hugh Mellert built a three-by-four foot sculpture of an American flag entitled “Mom, Baseball & Apple Pie.” The flag’s stars are made from baseballs and the stripes from bats. Mellert intended for his piece to be interactive, as he invited viewers to sign the baseballs each time they walked by.
“I think the inclusivity of ArtWorks is its greatest strength,” Sarnoff said. “It shows that everyone has passions and talents beyond what they might exhibit in their day jobs and that the work of faculty and staff together creates a beautiful show.”
Many of the professors exhibiting their pieces attribute ArtWorks with informing and enriching their daily professions.
For Cook, the concision of words and the precision of thought skills she learned and honed through poetry are valuable when writing on behalf of the President’s Office, she said. Sackett also said he applies the creativity he explores through painting to his scientific endeavors. He said he believes that innovation is at the crux of psychology and that some of the best answers in scientific discovery come in the form of out-of-the-box questions. Mellert, who has been a baseball coach for ten years, said he enjoys sharing his athletic passions in a distinctive way off the field.
Lull said that music gives him a channel through which to relax and express himself creatively outside of the classroom. This in turn motivates him to be a better teacher and prevents him from getting caught up in the day-to-day grind of academics, he said. For Kalish, ArtWorks presented a context for her to make art again and build, and she felt the same sense of happiness and “escape” from the experience. Kalish said her studio art courses as a Dartmouth undergraduate provided a similar outlet for her to unwind and alleviate stress but noted that it became increasingly difficult as a working adult to build art into her life in any kind of ritualized way, which she regrets.
“ArtWorks has a fun spirit to it it is a celebration of our colleagues’ hidden talents, as well as the complexity of our identities,” Kalish said.
Ultimately, the faculty was simply excited to present their work and themselves as artists to the public during ArtWorks and said they hoped that viewers were able to engage with their art as well.
“I can only hope that what I do music, which I love comforts or inspires or touches someone in a positive way somehow,” Lull said.
This year’s show is supported by the Office of Human Resources and the Offices of the President and the Provost.
Sarnoff was a member of The Dartmouth staff.