It’s all about fine arts, friendship and community service — no 20-page papers, no prerequisites and certainly no final exam. The Trumbull Fine Arts Committee workshop, which had its first session Wednesday, combines photography and writing to create a year-long arts experience in an intimate, non-judgmental setting.
The workshop was funded by a gift from Trumbull parents that was earmarked to encourage fine arts in the college. The program will use photography to help shape writing and was inspired by and modeled after a previous program called Literacy Through Photography. Approximately 15 students, who expressed interest at an informational meeting advertised in an e-mail to all Trumbull students, will participate.
Christina Spiesel, the program’s director and a senior research scholar at the Law School, said the workshop was intended to encourage participation on the part of students who want to try something new.
“It’s very, very process-oriented,” she said. “This is pure exploration of oneself — the photography and the writing are the means. They can explore over time and can respond to each other’s work, not just as, ‘This is a good thing, this is a bad thing.’ They can really learn from each other and grow in their own capacity to be expressive.”
The workshop will be taught by Trumbull resident photographer Angela Strassheim ART ’03 and poet Elizabeth Alexander, a professor of English and African American studies.
“We really want to have everyone take one picture of themselves every day with those point-and-shoot, throwaway flash cameras, and every day they’ll sit and write for 10 minutes,” Strassheim said. “One person can have a really great day, and the next person can have the worst day. Kind of puts things in perspective.”
Strassheim said community involvement will be a big part of the workshop second semester, when students will teach art to young children, nursing home residents and even “the troublemakers that are stuck in detention.”
At the end of the academic year, there will probably be an art show in the Trumbull Artspace Gallery, Strassheim said. She envisions that it will include the work done by community members as well as students.
“This semester it’s kind of more groundwork, so hopefully by next semester we can go into the community,” Strassheim said.
The workshop will probably meet once or twice a week; plans are not yet definite and will depend on student schedules and interests, said Dora Malech ’03, a member of the Trumbull Fine Arts Committee.
Art major Katie Reed ’04 said she plans to participate in the workshop.
“Trumbull has really good programs — I did the Trumbull photography workshop. That was fun,” Reed said.
Students with many different majors attended the initial informational meeting held Sept. 12, said Sarah Wright ’03, an American studies major. She said she attended the first class and enjoyed it.
“It was great,” she said. “It’s less pressure, but it’s still a class. They want to make it a group that will do things together and do writing and photography based on that — have a little artist community.”