Tuesday, May 22, 2018

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Tasha Gardone, a freshman in fine arts, waits to take prospective students on a tour of the Fine Arts Residential Learning Community (RLC) in Lincoln Hall on February 25, 2011.

Photo courtesy of: Norma Humphreys


(From left) David LaPalombara, professor of art, Gayle Irwin, peer mentor and junior in Communication Science and Disorders, Matt Peterson, Lincoln Hall residential coordinator, and students Caitlin Garrity, Tasha Gardone and Megan Powers.

Photo courtesy of: Norma Humphreys

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Branching out with student perspectives

Lincoln Hall's Sustainability Tree reflects individual experiences with the environment

The Lincoln Hall lobby is not your typical entrance – members of the Ohio University College of Fine Arts Residential Learning Community (RLC) have transformed it into a creative forest.

Members of the Fine Arts RLC worked together to create a mural of a large tree to represent the diversity of the hall and of its residents. The mural does more than show the residents, it also tells how they interpret the world. In all, more than 30 pieces were collected for the mural from students, ensuring the final project would be as colorful and diverse as the hall residents.

All of this is part of the Common Experience Project (CEP). The CEP seeks to engage the University community in a shared intellectual inquiry on a common theme; this year’s theme is “Apocalypse: Dark Future, Bright Future.”

The CEP is designed to spark campus-wide conversations and encourage first-year students to become involved members of the University community. Through the CEP, students will confront current fears and facts about the future of our society from the point of view of a specific discipline.

For their final class project, the Fine Arts RLC students created the Sustainability Tree, a collaborative work conceived through discussions with David LaPalombara, professor of art and director of the School of Art.  LaPalombara's interest in the environment and the arts inspired the project now exhibited in the Lincoln Hall lobby.

“Projects like this show students how a group can come together and create a coherent and expressive art piece with multiple, individually expressive elements,” said LaPalombara.

Tamara Chevlen, a student who was in the Fine Arts RLC said the project also includes an element of challenge. 

“Like my class coming together to create this representation of sustainability, the public must also come together to make a real change in the world,” she said.

Three separate classes contributed to the Sustainability Tree. Each student produced original artwork using any concept or idea related to sustainability. The 30 individual pieces were later assembled into a larger tree drawing.  

Students were encouraged to use any materials: ink, crayon, collage, paint, Xerox, computer-generated elements, beads, cloth, etc. LaPalombara made numerous small additions to connect several of the individual squares, so the final work best represented a cohesive tree form.

College of Fine Arts Assistant Dean Norma Humphreys and Lincoln Hall Resident Coordinator Matt Peterson, served as co-instructors for the classes. Humphreys and Peterson collaborated with LaPalombara and the students to bring the idea of a tree mural to life.

“Everyone portrayed sustainability differently,” Chevlen said. “But when put together a cohesive and blended structure was formed.”

The Sustainability Tree will be up for the rest of the quarter.
LaPalombara is happy with the result of the project, but explained that the purpose of the piece of art does not end there.

“I'm pleased with the outcome, and hope the student participants feel the same, although in art, the public has an important role in that final determination,” he said.