Today’s post was written by library student ambassador Sol Lewites. Sol is a sophomore biology major on the pre-med track from Managua, Nicaragua. She enjoys multicultural activities and events.
Every year, the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts hosts a series of events that celebrate the life of the mind in relation to our mission at Loyola Marymount University called the Bellarmine Forum. This year, the 2018 forum is commemorating the power and potential of human connection and creative collaboration. This year’s theme– focusing on celebrating creativity and collaboration within the arts– could be observed through the forum’s opening event.” The evening’s program highlighted a series of artistic collaborations, most notably the cooperation and unity behind specific works of art, artifacts, and literature.
LMU professors encouraged their students to attend, and many of those students shared their enthusiasm about viewing the Archives and Special Collections exhibition, “Sincere and Emotional: Stories of Connection.” The exhibit was curated by Nina Keen, a graduate student in English who shared her vision for the project during the opening speech: “I hope you feel inspired by and connected to the artifacts rather than be intimidated by them.”
A recurring theme throughout the event was female empowerment and artistry, as well as the appreciation of women artists. The works of Corita Kent, Rose O’Neill, and the Brontë sisters were mentioned as the forum aimed to highlight the importance of women’s rights and female artists. Keen shared a quote by Corita Kent that encompassed the relevance of creative cooperation: “you should never analyze your work while you’re creating it.” This was later tied to a heartfelt message delivered by Theresia de Vroom, a professor of English and director of the Marymount Institute for Faith, Culture and the Arts; “what we do is never alone, we do it together.” De Vroom used fraternities, hospitals, chess, soccer and firemen to exemplify how “we don’t do anything alone if we can help it.” As the different art pieces were shown, the artists behind them came up and shared their inspirations and how collaboration led to their success.
Michael Berg, professor of mathematics, shared a heartrending account of his family’s experience in the concentration camps in Indonesia, something he later shared was “difficult but absolutely necessary.” These stories are part of a book published with De Vroom, The Past is a Foreign Country. Madeline Wilson, a photographer who shared poignant images of people on Skid Row and their stories shared what was to me the most moving quote of the event: “people are starved for human connection.” Wilson said those were the best subjects she had ever shot due to their honest and raw desire for a “sense of recognition.”
The director and curator of the Laband Art Gallery, Karen Rapp, built on the idea of the forum’s collaborative theme saying she is always “trying to find out what is going on today in our culture” and how to relate it to the Laband Gallery exhibitions. Will Pupa, clinical professor of art/art history and artist in residence at the Marymount Institute shared his inspiration behind his sculpture of the Nine Muses. Gail Wronsky, professor of English, shared how crucial collaboration between the artist and the author was for the creation of her forthcoming book of children’s poetry. A heartwarming quote by photographer Judy Dater closed the event perfectly as she referred to a subject in one of her most famous pieces: “I call him God. Maybe he/she was the first person to have worked alone.”
During the reception, guests shared how they found out about the event, many of them saying they heard about it through the library’s website, word of mouth, student artists, or as BCLA workers. A few guests mentioned how their interest in the event rooted from “[their] desire to have a general idea about the exhibit” or “wanting to support BCLA”. Rachel, a student at LMU, thought that the event was “very emotional”. “I learned that collaboration is more than two people. [the concept of collaboration] is magical to me. They picked apart the word collaboration” said Melanie, a senior at LMU. Robbin Crabtree, the dean of the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts expressed that the event “really showcased how men and women collaborate to bring creative vision to fruition.”
The event was extremely successful and drew the attention of everyone who attended; the Von der Ahe family suite was filled with guests eager to learn more about the collaborative efforts behind art in relation to LMU’s mission and Ignatian traditions. As an LMU student I found this event to be remarkably eye-opening; I learned a lot more about how our Ignatian values influence art found on campus and the collective efforts behind art and literature. I am looking forward to attending the Bellarmine Forum next year. I would encourage not only LMU students but everyone to take a moment to learn more about artistic collaboration and LMU’s mission.
Thank you, Sol, for sharing your experience and reflections with us! If you are a student interested in being an event correspondent at a library event, contact John Jackson, Head of Outreach and Communications for the William H. Hannon Library.