Current, past students come together over art

Sonia Emmons

The evening of Thurs., April 26, Lawrence students and alumni mingled at the Wriston Art Center against a backdrop of student art, live jazz and fine wine.
This first-time event was a student art exhibit sponsored by the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors and Student Relations Committee, designed to connect alumni with current students through art.
The art displayed included works of drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography and digital video.
According to junior Erik Rinard, a studio art and English double major, “The exhibit represents the entirety of what the department has to offer, so you can really see the variety of art that is created here.”
Rinard added that the art was not limited to that of art majors, and many introductory courses were represented in the lower-level studios.
The art exhibited upstairs, selected through juries, was created largely by junior and senior art majors.
For the seniors, the exhibit was “a chance to give a little preview of our work,” said Kate Ostler, a studio art major with an emphasis in ceramics and oil painting. As Ostler noted, “Most seniors put in a sample, but we are saving most of our work for the senior show.”
The gala was well attended by students, alumni and faculty. Among the faculty were professors of photography and digital art Julie Lindemann and John Shimon, and Lawrence fellow Valerie Zimany. Shimon and Lindemann were the coordinators of the event.
As Lindemann explained, Alumni Relations contacted the art department in January, hoping to plan a collaborative arts event through which alumni and students could interact. Shimon and Lindemann made the necessary arrangements, from collecting the art to finding a student jazz combo.
Trumpet, guitar, flute and vocals comprised the combo. The group was stationed in a spacious open area at the bottom of the stairs, and the velvety vocals drifting upstairs added additional flavor to the evening.
Also adding to the evening were the 50 alums who came from near and far – from the Fox Valley to New York and Florida – to get an artistic taste of life at Lawrence in 2007.
Michael Lofton ’76 is one who traveled from another time zone. He encapsulated the ultimate purpose of the event and of the Student Relations Committee, saying, “We want to find out what’s happening with student life on campus, in order to understand today’s Lawrence experience.”
Associate Director of Alumni Relations Lindsay Hansen ’01 explained that the 35-member Alumni Board gathers on campus twice a year. The Student Relations Committee plans biannual events with students, such as luncheons.
However, as Hansen pointed out, “Usually the events are smaller – this is by far the biggest and most interesting event we’ve ever hosted!” She added that the oldest graduating class represented was ’51, and the most recent was ’04.
Steve Tie Shue, a 2004 graduate and now the Vice President of the Alumni Board of Directors, explained that the alumni/student events usually revolve around particular themes or current events issues.
In years past, themes have included the election, diversity and minority students, and contentious issues concerning the Greek system.
Shue expressed enthusiasm for the art and the success of this year’s event. “Successful events are repeated,” he said, “and we certainly hope that the art department will invest in this again next year.