by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
Dickinson creatives are taking it to the streets this spring with an edgy performance and gallery space that brings the arts outdoors.
Box of Dickinson Arts (BoDA) is a pop-up venue on Britton Plaza where Dickinson artists, performers and writers can share new works with the campus and local community. There’s also a #BoDA hashtag and dedicated Instagram account, so students studying remotely off-campus can stay abreast of what’s new and join in the campuswide conversation.
"It's the result of collaboration among arts departments and student organizations, who are sharing ideas, resources, and manpower to bring this experience to campus," says The Trout Gallery's Bianca Martucci-Fink, who's coordinating the schedule of events. "The goal is to bring arts out into the Dickinson community at a time when it is difficult to feel connected and be inspired."
BoDA—a play on the Museum of Modern Art’s acronym, MoMA—catches the wave of COVID-era experimentation in arts communities around the world, as artists and performers seek fresh ways to connect and share works.
The 12’ x 8’ x 9’, custom-designed wooden structure can accomodate a variety of exhibitions and performances by Dickinson arts departments and student groups. A plexiglass-panel viewing area stands opposite a white, gallery-style wall, with enough depth in between for performance-based displays. A door provides artist access to the performance and exhibition space, and it is locked in between performances and installations to safeguard the works.
“A structure like this can benefit many of our teaching and presentation needs during this very difficult semester, and it is exactly the kind of high energy, collaborative, public project that our campus community needs right now,” says Anthony Cervino, associate professor of studio art, who used similar pop-up venues in Europe as inspiration to design the structure.
As Cervino notes, it's a truly collaborative effort. Representatives from several arts academic departments joined forces to brainstorm the concept, which was realized with grant-supported civic-engagement funding through Dickinson's Center for Civic Learning & Action. In addition to designing the structure, Cervino built it right on campus, in Goodyear. Assistant Professor of Theatre Design Kent Barrett provided audio design and the low lighting that makes the box glow.
BoDA was inspected by Ken Shultes ’89, associate vice president for sustainability and facilities, and Dickinson's facilities crew, and installed on Britton Plaza. The Trout Gallery is scheduling programming and providing the first exhibition—a selection of photographs from the recently published book Snapshots: How the Dickinson Community Exprienced the Pandemic.
The venue will remain on the plaza through midsummer, with new exhibitions or performances scheduled weekly.
This is unchartered territory at Dickinson. So as Dickinson’s arts departments and student groups collaborate to present new works to the campus and local community in a fresh and boldly experimental way, we can expect that spirit of creative risk-taking reflected in much of the work.
In concert with the collaborative spirit that brought this project to life, that creative risk-taking is BoDA's secret sauce, says Heather Flaherty, curator of education at The Trout Gallery.
"One of the wonderful benefits of outdoor exhibition spaces is that they have given communities a shared experience, helping them to find inspiration and connections even when individuals can't be physically together indoors,” Flaherty says. "I think we all feel that this is one of those golden moments where we see how the arts have the ability to bring out the best that humanity has to offer."
For more information on BoDA, including weekly programming updates, follow BoDA @BoxOfDickinsonArts.
Published March 16, 2021