BC Responds Loud and Clear
by Mel Corning
According to the website, the Brooklyn College Library serves over 17,000 undergraduate and graduate students. That’s a lot of foot traffic, not to mention the faculty, staff, and larger community of Brooklyn College who frequent the stacks inside the illustrious, Georgian brick behemoth known as our library. Anyone who has taken a class at BC can tell you about the quirky clock tower which sits atop the library and serenades students throughout campus with its special chime-songs. The point is, Brooklyn College students know and use the library. Whether we are browsing Facebook at one of the computers, printing last minute papers for class, scanning articles we were supposed to have read, or simply seeking a quiet corner to actually study, the library is where we go. For this reason, I can think of no better place than the library to display a student art show.
Wednesday, March 14th marked the opening night of Respond BC!, a student art exhibition in conjunction with the We Stand Against Hate series, returning to the library lobby for the second year in a row. I arrived late to the opening, but just in time to witness a wave of students trickle into the space and curiously take in the artwork. The pieces featured this year include pencil drawings, large-scale oil paintings, sculptures made from various materials, and a sprinkling of mixed media video and sound projections. The underlying and poignantly unifying aspect of Respond BC! is the politically-charged messages radiating from each individual piece. The art on its own communicates powerful information, but the show hit me on a much deeper emotional level when I read the artist descriptions. Not only did the descriptions give me a new perspective from which to view the art, but they also offered me the experience of seeing and processing the world through the eyes of each artist. The result was a sense of belonging; it amazes me that art can create camaraderie between total strangers. I took my time to take in the show, then sat with a friend and watched people file through the exhibit, chat with one another, and snap photos of artwork with their smartphones.
The mission of Respond BC! as I understand it, is to open up a space for students, faculty, and staff to communicate their personal, social, political, and cultural positions relating to the current state of affairs in our country and on our planet. The diverse collection of art conveys explicit as well as abstract experiences of identity, embodiment, race, trauma, beauty, exploitation, mental health, sexuality, immigration, environment, and heritage. To really take in these pieces is to become emotionally aware of the scope of what it means to be a human in 2018! It is hard to imagine a more dynamic and effective mechanism for creating tolerance and empathy among students, and I cannot express enough how grateful I am to belong to a body of educators and learners who value creative communication. Now more than ever it feels critical for our communities to have outlets for this type of expression, and it is equally important to witness each other and recognize the strength and beauty in our vulnerability. I offer a huge thank you to each and every artist who submitted work to the show.
Additional Photos from the exhibit