More Than Words: Open Canvas



Students walking into The Barge Canal & Coffee Co. this February to enjoy a nice warm cup of coffee while taking a relaxing study break will be pleasantly surprised to see the new student artwork being displayed in the building. Twenty-four small canvases covered with acrylic paint are displayed on a brick wall behind comfy couches where members of the Colgate and Hamilton communities can enjoy reflecting on the images that illustrate the beauty found in the world around us.

Recently, the Colgate Christian Fellowship (CCF) sponsored a unique event on campus called Open Canvas to help inspire students and provide a creative outlet for the Colgate community. They asked students to answer two questions through their artwork, “Where do you see beauty in the world?” and “How do humans contribute to or detract from that beauty?”

“We realized that apart from taking art courses, Colgate students are not given many chances to express their creativity by drawing and painting. We also wanted to engage different groups of students on campus in considering questions that are important to our world view as Christians. The idea for Open Canvas came out of a combination of these two desires,” sophomore and CCF President Colleen Schneider said.

Twenty-four students signed up in the O’Connor Campus Center for single canvases and on Thursday, January 29 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. the students returned to the COOP TV Room to find snacks, refreshments, friends, tables covered with newspapers, acrylic paints, paintbrushes and their canvases waiting. For many students, it was a simple and fluid undertaking as they expressed the beauty around them; many students started painting and mixing colors right away.

“There honestly was not much to my piece. It was super simple. I began my painting by drawing blocks of colors-purples, blues and greens. Everything flowed from there,” sophomore Anna D’Alessandro said.

After completing their paintings, students were asked to compose short statements in which they explained the inspiration for their work. These statements are posted in the Barge so that anyone interested may see who created the paintings and understand more clearly their creative process and drive.

“Although a lot of the artists had already seen the others’ canvases at the painting party, I think a lot was added by the artist statements shown at the Barge that they hadn’t seen before,” senior and CCF member Angela Mesko said, who coordinated the event.

The student artists were inspired by varied objects and experiences, both personal and universal — love, faith, Christ, family, nature, flowers, inner beauty and American values being just a small sample of what Colgate students find beautiful.

“I really, really like my boyfriend’s eyes. I wish I could do them justice,” wrote senior Susan Chang in her artist’s statement.

All these manifestations of beauty are depicted in the Barge for everyone and anyone to enjoy. At the end of the month, the paintings will be taken down and returned to the artists for their own personal enjoyment, but for now the students are happy to share their visions of beauty with all the Colgate and Hamilton community.

“Hopefully the people who look at the paintings and read the artists’ descriptions at the Barge will be encouraged to consider beauty from another person’s perspective,” Schneider said. “We also hope that the viewers begin to think about what beauty means to them and why.”