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Culture Shock: Art Invades Campus

April 4, 2010

Erica Bellman
Culture Shock: Art Invades Campus

We proudly embrace most of CMC's stereotypes. We are competitive, worldly, motivated, outgoing, informed and decidedly unartistic individuals. We are bent on initiating positive change, assuming leadership positions, and achieving success. Most importantly, we know how to have a good time and can definitely hold our alcohol with something close (enough) to class. But a gaping hole exists at CMC. Our campus's lack of an arts community gnaws at the school's nearly complete culture. Though some may not mind CMC's neglect of the arts, many crave the exposure and involvement that other liberal arts colleges offer to students. CMC boasts significantly fewer on-campus clubs for artistic students than our neighbors Scripps, Pomona, and Pitzer. While students can easily join the other colleges' clubs, a desire to practice with and perform for the CMC community exists amongst our student body's artists (yes, they do exist). Film, dance, theater, music, artwork in diverse mediums -- students are yearning for cultural stimulation.

Finally, a group of like-minded creative students have banded together to address the arts deficit. In true CMC fashion, seniors Ashley Baugh, Lauren Wong, and Grady Wieger are mobilizing for a full-fledged arts invasion with the formation of a (yet unnamed) arts club. "Although they don't often get front stage focus on-campus," Baugh '10 noted, "CMC has a lot of gifted and driven artists. This club wants to highlight that aspect of our student body."  The idea for the arts club arose during a dinner conversation at the Athenaeum between the three students and some CMC administrators. "The three of us agreed that CMC students who are passionate about the arts shouldn't feel uncomfortable on campus," Wong '10 recalls. Soon after, the group held an interest meeting at the Ath during teatime.  By word-of-mouth, news spread among CMC's artistic students and more than 20 people attended the meeting to discuss the best plan of action for enhancing the schools anemic arts culture.

CMC's characteristically well-rounded students are often both business-minded and artistically inclined. International Relations major Wong '10, for example, hopes to pursue a career in the strategic area of design, a profession that would benefit from her artistic ability and strong foundation in IR. Like many students and administrators, Wong feels strongly about what a true liberal arts education should entail. "The purpose of a liberal arts college is to expose students to all kinds of ideas and disciplines, art being a major one," Wong explained.  Overwhelming support from both the student body and key faculty members has spurred the club's action.  President Pamela Gann is due to meet with the students to discuss incorporating the arts into CMC's fabric from a higher level; Wong expressed that President Gann has thus far been supportive and eager to help.

Even for students who draw stick figures and dread the limelight, awareness of the arts is essential.  "Art can have a large impact on one's educational experience" Wieger '10 mused. The ability to appreciate and intelligently discuss artwork are important skills, if only for the sake of becoming more sophisticated and interesting.  Forming a personal taste for artwork of any medium can become a lifelong journey.  For music lovers: think about how awesome it was to discover Pandora Radio or for the first time.  Discovering new art in line with one's own taste is a thrilling, addictive experience.

CMC students suffering from art phobia need not try out for the Shades or an Under the Lights theater production to gain valuable exposure to the arts. With the new arts club's exciting initiatives, events both on campus and throughout the Claremont community will become more accessible to students.  Kick-starting the overhaul is ArtsWeek, a full-throttle effort to elevate the arts at CMC. ArtsWeek will run from April 12-16 and is intended to celebrate the talented and artistic student body by showcasing a multitude of events: acapella performances, improvisation groups, an eclectic variety of concerts, dance rehearsals, and much more.  Photography and art exhibits will pop up around campus, so keep your eyes peeled for student artwork.  Friday's events will include the Athenauem's Student Art Exhibit, a venue well-worth checking out and the anchor of the forthcoming ArtsWeek. Stay tuned for specific scheduling details in the coming weeks.

"We're not trying to make CMC into an arts school or force Beethoven or Monet on people," Wong '10 remarked.  "What we want to do is show CMCers that there's a large network of creative people in our community whose talent should not be overlooked."  This arts invasion, for many CMC students, is not only welcomed but an absolutely necessary measure.

Want to get involved?  Contact or for more information.

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