Let’s get it STARTed: Initiative for Arts on Campus
By Ryan McCormick '14
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 14:02
A new and relatively unknown initiative is Lafayette’s START – it STarts with ART – Project. Generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the START Project is an attempt to better fuse the arts and its various programs into the campus environment.
This month, Mary Zimmerman’s play The Arabian Nights will debut, as part of the START initiative. The show, which will be performed by the College Theater March 6-9, is a variety of folk tales from the Middle Ages. In conjunction with the play, prominent visiting scholars will be invited to campus to discuss the play’s significance with students. Associate Theater Professor Mary Jo Lodge is directing the show.
This integration is the model for START, and part of the grant money will go towards inviting various artists to campus for short residencies. During their stay they will visit classes, offer student programs and generally relate their discipline into the curriculum. Essentially, it is designed to give students a way to interact with arts programs they might not otherwise have access to in their academic schedule.
The program began with a kick off START Fest during the first week of September, where rap artists Baba Brinkman and Jamie Simmonds performed along with activist artist Jan Cohen-Cruz and members of Lafayette arts programs. John Weber of Skidmore college also attended and presented on his efforts as Director of the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery to host relevant exhibits that professors can use to supplement their classroom lessons.
More programs are slated for the next academic year, including associate mathematics professor Ethan Berkove’s origami project.
The START Project will continue for the next several years, with a few projects occurring each semester. Assistant English professor Carrie Rohman and assistant film and media studies professor Nandini Sikand are hosting a project called Choreography and the Curriculum. The program will bring Creative Campus Fellow of Wesleyan University Liz Lerman, who runs a science/choreography program that brings together dance and science. Lerman, who is the Founding Artistic Director of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange and a recipient of the MacArthur Genius Grant Fellowship, will be providing constructive feedback to the students who register for the Dancing Cultures course.