Wednesday, March 7, 2018

museum shenanigans

Last Friday was College Art Day at the SC State Museum in Columbia.  Art Departments from colleges and universities all over the state set up tables at this event and provide information to several bus loads of high school art students from the midlands area.  The cool thing about this recruiting opportunity is that it is student led.  The museum asks that students from each department be present to talk to prospective students.  I'm the faculty volunteer and this usually means I carry the box into the building.  

 Once the box is carried inside, the students take over and set up the table to their own specifications.  This year we had Katherine (The Gazelle), Sabrina (Captain Side Eye) and Jamea (J-J-J-Jamea) as our student representatives.  

 When I first started doing these recruiting events for Lander years ago, no one had ever heard of us.  If anyone had heard of the university, they had no idea we had an art department.  This was high school students, parents and even some high school teachers.  But thanks to some creative swag and some good publicity over the years, now we get swarmed when the students arrive.

 Students and teachers alike come to see what kind of stuff we're giving away this year.  And once the swag brings them over, our student reps engage them with personality and win them over.  Some of these high school students come every year and we know them by name.  They've known for years they were going to apply to Lander.  It's great.  You may also notice in the photos the empty tables in the background.  Universities who don't bring students, don't have good swag and lack in the personality department....they don't exactly bring the kids to the yard.  

 I'm just there to have fun.  And stack cups to the ceiling.  Being fun is the key.

Don't get me wrong, this is a lot of work.  I get out easy and I still have to register everyone, organize lunch orders, convince students to go and put in a long Friday of being social.  The student reps miss a day of classes and have to make up work.  This is also the Friday before spring break for us so they have to put off leaving a day early for break and drive to Columbia before heading home.  They get up way earlier than usual for this and they have to put up with me all day!  To reward this extra work, we try to make it as fun as possible.

 After the high school students head back to their buses and we pack up our table, we get to enjoy the museum for free.  There's always a good art exhibit to coincide with College Art Day.  This year it was the 50th Anniversary Exhibit of the State Art Collection.  There was a Jim Arendt.

 And a Tom Stanley.

 And a lot of other cool stuff.  Oh, and Armir, fresh back in the country from active duty in the Air Force, joined us to hang out most of the day.

 This very small sculpture won us over.  We spent a lot of time trying to figure it out.

 The regular museum exhibits are also pretty fun.  Especially when you're a bunch of goofballs.

 Our curiosity led us to the top floor where we could see a lady working on the big telescope.  She motioned for us to come inside and she showed us the surface of the sun on a computer monitor.  The telescope showed some cool activity on the surface.  You could see gas eruptions coming off of the surface.  It was very cool.

 We also got to see the Leo Twiggs exhibit "Requiem For Mother Emanuel".

 A couple of years ago 9 people were killed inside Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston.  The person responsible doesn't deserve any recognition but I mention this person only because this series of batik paintings follows the progression of emotions from immediate horror to complete forgiveness.  This person worked out of hatred but may have accidentally done more for racial peace in our state than any activist.  

 This piece by a different artist was just outside the exhibit.  It may have been as moving as the other 9 paintings.  My students moved through this one quickly and didn't want to discuss it.  I had some ideas about the exhibit before I saw it in person and I have some ideas now.  We could discuss over coffee sometime.

 Once we were all museum-ed out, we headed out for an early dinner in town.  I let the students pick the restaurant, but we made a quick stop at Publix to get a red velvet cake personalized for Sabrina.  She's having a birthday over spring break and she failed to come by the sculpture studio for the traditional, non-edible sculpture cake.

 So we surprised her with a personalized cake after dinner, complete with a poor rendition of "Happy Birthday".  

After dinner and cake, Armir told us we had to try "Insomnia Cookies".  None of us had heard of it so he navigated us across town and we got a dozen cookies, mostly to take home to my kids because we were all stuffed.  The cookies ended up being free which was really cool of them.  Apparently you can order them online so go to and support these nice people.  

After that it was time to drive through Columbia's notorious rush hour traffic to officially begin our spring break.  

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