What is solidarity? Who represents it? Students in Professor Josephe Adolphe’s Anatomy and Figure Drawing I class were recently asked to answer those questions in the form of portraits as part of the celebration of the University’s 13th annual Founder’s Week.
The students were given the problem of using either the word “respect” or “compassion” (both taken from the theme of this year’s Founder’s Week) as the basis of their work to creatively and figuratively describe solidarity. They were required to select a figure from the past or contemporary times that “embodies [the] chosen word,” according to a sign describing the exhibit.”The purpose of this project and ideally every project facing an art student (at least in my classes) is the problem of ‘how best to use one’s talents to participate in the ordinary struggles of the world,'” Adolphe said in a statement given to The Torch.
Adolphe said that in this project he wanted students to examine a person who “exemplified those Vincentian values” of respect and compassion.
“It did not matter the nature of the chosen subject-they could be famous personalities or they could be someone more intimately connected to the student,” he explained. “The important thing was that they chose someone who embodied those values and who made some impact on them as students.”
After the project was completed, five of the students were chosen to have their work displayed in an exhibit on the third floor of St. Augustine Hall during Founder’s Week. Those chosen to be displayed included Rachel Royer’s “Martin Luther King, Jr.,” Bianca Spizzirri’s “Aung San Suu Kyi,” Jeremy Jones’ “Nelson Mandela,” Timothy Olwell’s “Abraham Licoln,” and Chris Lauto’s “Jose Martri.”
“I used Nelson Mandela in my piece due to the respect not only that he has but also for the compassion that he has for his people, including the youth of the nation,” Jones explained about his piece. “I just wanted to show a man who was trying to lay a better foundation for his people.”
Spizzirri said that she chose Kyi, a pro-democracy activist from Burma, because she is one of the lesser-known examples of the qualities required.
“We had to do a project that represented solidarity,” she said. “I thought [Kyi] was a good example of that, and not a lot of people know her.”
Adolphe said that one part of the importance of the project was connecting art with reality.
“Artists are too often seen as persons existing in an ivory tower, far removed from the real world,” he said. “However the true calling of the artist and the fulfillment of their potentials lies in how well they are able to use their God-given gifts as opportunities to make manifest the eternal love God has for each of us.”
Adolphe said that Professor Cynthia Chambers and the library staff helped him to organize and coordinate the exhibit with Founder’s Week.