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The Artist's Way

Senior studio art majors discussed their works in progress during last week's reception. The works draw from many different disciplines, including meteorology, music, psychology, sociology and neuroscience. Photo by Carl Socolow '77.

Senior studio-art majors discussed their works in progress during last week's reception. The works draw from many different disciplines, including meteorology, philosophy, history and neuroscience. Photo by Carl Socolow '77.

New series tackles big questions through the arts

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

Katie Roy ’15 was listening to her iPod during the long drive from Baltimore to New York City when she happened to hear two very different versions of the same classical song. The former physics major in her began to visualize the quality of the sounds, version to version, in waveforms—those wavy lines that represent changes over time, such as you might see in video- or audio-editing software. And the professional dancer in her wondered: Could she choreograph a work based on those squiggly lines?

That lightbulb moment led to Roy’s newest choreography, which will be premiered by the Dance Theatre Group during the fall 2015 dance concert, Movement Matters (Nov. 20-22), and it reflects the interesting connections between the arts and other disciplines that Dickinsonians make every day. Now, a new program at Dickinson explores those intersections in dynamic ways.

Spearheaded by the Office of Academic Advising, the Arts in Your Liberal Education series highlights students, faculty and alumni coming together to explore some of the ways we can understand the world through dance, music, theatre and visual arts. 

"We want students to ask questions about their educational experiences, like, 'What does it mean to be a music major at Dickinson, rather than at a conservatory?' and 'Why should a neuroscience major take studio-art classes?' " says Damon Yarnell, dean of academic advising. "Regardless of whether students major in philosophy, political science or chemistry, a Dickinson education will acquaint them with the rigor and pleasure of artistic expression, and they often find that the study of art enhances other aspects of their education, and that surprising connections can emerge."

Roy presented a Nov. 6 preview of her new work—and explained the mathematics and physics behind it, along with Professor of Mathematics Lorelei Koss—in Dickinson’s dance studio. On Nov. 10 senior studio-art majors showcased their works-in-progress in the Goodyear Gallery and discussed their art during an informal reception. The works delved into many different areas of study, including meteorology, history, philosophy, music/sound, geometry, sociology, psychology and cultural studies.

The Dreams, Prayers, Songs: A Musical Exploration of Jewish History, which is slated for Nov. 20, marries music with the social sciences. It will feature a brief talk about the role of music in Jewish history and tradition in the Weiss Center for the Arts (Room 235) followed by a concert by musical artists-in-residence Adaskin String Trio. Multimedia pieces by students in the Music and Social Conflict first-year learning community will be interspersed throughout the concert, offering historical background for each of the works played by the trio. A reception in the Weiss Center lobby will cap off the evening.

Additional Arts in Your Liberal Education gatherings are planned for upcoming months, as students, alumni and faculty from different majors use the arts to grapple with big questions. "We are all the better for it," says Roy. “What I’ve learned at Dickinson is that everything is connected. Whether you’re an artist, scientist or working in the humanities, if you can approach a problem from several different viewpoints, you’ll get a much more rich and beautiful experience.”

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Published November 13, 2015