The six recipients of this year’s Dean Stuart Stritzler-Levine Seniors-to-Seniors Scholarship each presented a talk about their senior projects in the Lazlo Z. Bito ‘60 Auditorium on Friday, April 7th. This recognition seniors-to-seniors tea allowed LLI members and assorted Bard folk to hear about the always-interesting topics the Bard seniors chose and how they constructed their projects. The varied and intensely personal projects shed light on the diverse interests of Bard students. The scholarship offered some financial assistance to these lucky six to help support the costs of their required senior projects.
David Shein, Bard College Dean of Studies, who awards the scholarships, hosted the event. He began with appreciative comments about the late Stuart Stritzler-Levine, for whom the scholarship is named. Dean Stritzler-Levine was also instrumental in the founding of Bard LLI. Dean Shein stressed the impressive range of visionary interests represented by these senior projects, then handed the meeting over to the six recipients.
Multimedia Abstracted Hair Salon Installation: Sydney Merritt-Brown
Sydney is a joint photography, theater, and performance major with roots in the Caribbean. Her senior project is titled “C.A.P.S Made from the Lands of Rock Cake, Coco Bread, Flying Fish, Sugar and Rum.” Her project was created with the intention of honoring the stories and ritual-based arts of her grandmother and great-grandmother, focusing on the rich cultural heritage of women from the Caribbean through their “hair stories,” clothing, and traditional recipes. She sees these stories as “a vessel to reclaim identity, nationhood, and culture.” C.A.P.S stands for “Caribbean American Princesses” and is, as Sydney writes, “a creative, artistic intellectual practice that helps the participants to constitute an identity that is responsive to their current American reality.” Sydney, who uses hair as a form of self-portraiture, showed beautiful photographs of women with elaborately braided and styled hair in various ways that were each truly works of art.
Night at the Chapel: Jackie Weddell
Jackie, who is from Ann Arbor, Michigan, is a studio arts major who has created a nine-part collection of unique sewn, crocheted, and hand-assembled garments, displaying a passion for making and manipulating fibers and textiles. This textile art is based on the idea of “a dance between hard and soft materials.” Jackie’s creations were on view at a runway show on April 19th at the Bard Chapel and will be on exhibition, museum style, at the UBS space in Red Hook, opening May 6th. Jackie created all the garments from scratch using yarns, metals, and ceramics. They are works of art, but clearly not suitable for active wear. Jackie is using this senior project experience to explore the process of being a design artist, a performing artist, as well as an installation/gallery artist, and then deciding in which direction to focus in the future.
How to Objectively Find the Good and Healthy in Pianist Movement: Hannah Park-Kaufmann
Hannah, who grew up in South Korea, Austria, and China, is majoring in both mathematics and piano. At a young age she developed posture issues due to endless hours practicing at the piano with no clear set of rules to alleviate her problem. This led Hannah to ask the questions: “How do you study posture and movement in musicians? And how do we define efficient movement for all kinds of musicians that doesn’t cause injury?” So Hannah went to the MIT Immersion Lab for Biomechanics to seek help and has begun a project, integrated with mathematics, to study the problem. Basic observation of a musician playing does not end up being helpful. Hannah is investigating a study based on “wielding cutting-edge technology in observation and analysis.” Her work will continue on into the summer and may even lead to other studies. She was the first subject for the study, hooked up to a myriad of receptors all over her back and arms, recording her movements as she played the piano. Her scholarship money will help to compensate the 40 more piano-playing volunteers who will add data to the study. Hannah anticipates that a series of papers on health and good piano-playing practices will be published as a result of this ambitious work.
Hmong Textiles: Memory, Migration, and Community: Freya Hatch-Surisook
Freya has been exploring the ways in which Hmong textiles maintain community memory to preserve cultural history. Freya, an art history and Asian studies major, has been studying how the Hmong people from Laos have “historically used embroidery as a way to reflect nature and communicate cultural groups through lines and patterns.” She focused on how the textiles of the Hmong people can take the place of oral tradition and help maintain cultural cohesiveness, regardless of whether the artists came from different areas, spoke different languages, and had moved to new areas under traumatic circumstances.
Music major Rose Nadis has been working on producing an album of original works for the past four years and it is coming to fruition as her senior project. The title of her project is “If Peter Pan Were My Barber, I Wouldn’t Tell Him to Keep Me Young.” Rose wrote the songs on the album during her high school and college years. They tell the stories of “a bad trip to the barber, a magician who just doesn’t have the guts to saw his assistant in two, and a fortune teller who quits her job to focus on the present.” Rose and her band hope to perform these songs and others in concert soon. The concert date has not yet been set.
Bird’s Milk: Masha Krichevsky
Masha, who is majoring in film and electronic arts, has created a short film based on Ukrainian folktales and Slavic culture. She chose to use 16-mm film to keep the feel of the shadows of forgotten ancestors. The film, entitled Bird’s Milk (Masha assures us that milk from a bird does not really exist), contains elements of an immature Brooklyn millennial making a documentary, a Slavic community, a medicine for melancholia, horror, and destruction. Masha sums up her film by saying it focuses on “Western medicines vs. homeopathic practices, the downfall of religious purity, and the spectacle of a community.” Her film will be screened at a black tie event on May 20th at 6:30 pm at the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Center. Masha’s parents emigrated from Ukraine in 1992. Her father is currently back in Kyiv. She phones him often but wishes he would leave Ukraine soon.
Thank Yous. . .
Each recipient expressed heartfelt thanks to Bard LLI for the scholarship support. Some said they definitely could not have completed their senior projects without the additional financial help. In return, LLI members thanked the seniors for sharing their very personal projects with us. After a brief question-and-answer session, everyone enjoyed some refreshments and the students received some goodie bags prepared by Irene Esposito, LLI Hospitality Team chair, and her crew.