For students in the Caine College of the Arts, the sounds and pictures they create have much more of an impact than just covering up a blank wall, or filling a silent room. Through Utah State University’s Year of the Arts, students and their professors celebrate social justice issues as well as elevate arts’ status throughout the rest of campus.
“Having a Year of the Arts on campus is a way to bridge what we do outside of our college and bring it to other departments,” said Marissa Vigneault, an assistant professor of art history. “To show the way that art is always interconnected with all of these other disciplines.”
Each year, the university spotlights something, and chose the arts for the 2017-2018 school year. Utah State University Student Association Caine College of the Arts Senator Sierra Wise said it is a “really great opportunity for both students and faculty to come together and showcase the community with the arts and all the stellar arts we have in Logan.”
The university kicked off its Year of the Arts Wednesday on the Taggart Student Center patio by combining the Nora Eccles Museum mobile truck with the Center for Women and Gender, to promote the connection between art and social justice.
Mikey Kettinger, supervisor of the museum’s mobile art truck, hung paintings of Angela Davis, a prominent civil rights activist, on the truck’s wall.
“When we can show art works that are along those lines of social justice…I think a lot of good things come from that,” he said.
Kettinger also had a button maker station set up outside the truck, and encouraged those passing by the exhibit to make buttons for “whatever cause is important to them.”
Several people made buttons with politically charged phrases, however many also wrote simple phrases such as “I love you” and “happy birthday.”
“We have quite a diverse set of ideas being represented in our button making activity today,” Kettinger said. “I always think it’s important for people to engage and discuss.”
Vigneault smiled as she pinned a button which read “there will be art” to her dress.
“It just implies that there always is art, it’s always there,” she said. “That we don’t have to look in a frame or museum to find it, that we can find it all around us at all times, and that we’re all capable of making art as well.”
Wise agreed, adding she believes the arts are more important now than ever.
“Especially in this political climate with everything that’s going on; there’s been a lot of talk about cutting arts programs,” she said.
Vigneault also said the combination of arts and social justice is important because of art’s ability to bridge gaps between people who disagree.
“It’s also a way for us to continue conversations,” she said. “If we can find a common ground, and often times that’s coming together to make art or to look at art together or to talk about art and art making, then we can insert a kind of dialogue about social justice.”
Year of The Arts festivities will be held throughout the academic year, and will include various art and social justice speakers visiting campus, as well as interactive art projects and festivals aimed to involve the entire student body.
“I think our goal is not only to highlight the programs we have in the Caine College of the Arts, but also to show the way art can enrich our life no matter what we are studying,” Wise said. “It gives an opportunity for non-art majors to get that outlet.”
And although this year is specifically dedicated to the arts, Vigneault said she hopes the lessons it aims to teach continue forward.
“Art should allow us to see the world differently,” she said. “Art should give us an opportunity to see our environment through another person’s eyes.”