Cushing, Greens unite in arts activism event

Each residence house on campus holds different events throughout the year and they are as diverse as the houses themselves. This year, Cushing House is holding “Effecting Change Through Art” in the Villard Room on Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. in collaboration with the Vassar Greens. Beyond providing a forum for students’ and community members’ artistic talent, the organizers hope to reclaim the Villard Room as a space for expression.

Esin Asan ’17, Cushing House President, has been preparing for the event and planning to make the importance of art unmistakable to the guests. She wrote in an emailed statement, “…We are collaborating with the Vassar Greens to make this event happen. Basically, we are transforming the Villard Room into an art gallery and performance space for students. We want the event to focus on how art is a tool is to create change in the society.”

To make this a night full of the arts in every dimension, Asan and the Vassar Greens are planning to incorporate many different genres of art into the space. “The Vassar Greens invited two folk singers who will be performing. We have digital and physical submissions from many students, and many students signed up to perform. There will be lots of yummy food and a ton of talent, fun and good company,” Asan commented.

Gabrielle Pollack ’17, Co-President of the Vassar Greens, joined Asan in the preparation for “Effecting Change Through Art” and adds another perspective to the event. She wrote in an emailed statement, “The Cushing House/Vassar Greens event is a collaborative effort to reclaim the Villard Room as a space of art, activism, and student work. Art is a really powerful form of expression and through this event we wanted to encourage students at Vassar to share their work, posters, videos, songs, etc. with us.”

The arts-centric event will be open to everyone in the Vassar community and features not only a broad array of art styles but also contributions from a range of organizations on campus. Asan commented on who she reached out to in preparation for the event, “I’ve been sending emails to all the campus organizations whose general body members might be interested in showing their art, such as Phocus, Wordsmiths, VC Filmmakers, Boilerplate Magazine, and other houses.”

She continued, “The best part of planning this event has been reaching out to different people who might be interested in making a change through their art. I’ve contacted numerous organizations and artists, which made me realize how much talent and creativity there is in the Vassar College community.”

Soloman Ajasin ’16, the Vice President of Cushing House has also been heavily involved with the creation and execution of this event. He wrote in an emailed statement, “We thought it was a wonderful idea; one that is rarely seen on campus. The idea of presenting activism in the form of art is very intriguing and allows a different subset of people to take the spotlight as we highlight their activism within and outside the Vassar community.” Pollack as well commented on what her organization has brought to the planning and development of the night: “The Greens will help Cushing make this event zero waste and there will be a large selection of vegetarian and vegan food at the event!”

Aside from creating a unique multi-media experience, the organizers wanted to make this event different from previous ones hosted by other houses in the Villard room. Asan wrote, “This event came about because the Cushing House team thought that Vassar College students should have access to a space where they can freely present their art to the whole campus community. Our campus is home to very talented students, and we rarely get to see their art in any space, let alone in one of our galleries.”

She continued, “With this event, we also wanted to reclaim the Villard Room as a safe space for Vassar students. There is a stigma attached to Villard Room events. We want to break that stigma and show that Villard Room can be used by the students as a space to make change using art.” Karen Crook ’17, wrote in an emailed statement about the event through her lens of a Vassar Greens’ Co-President, “As an activist club on campus, we are so excited to be sponsoring an event that encourages activism through art, which can be such a powerful medium.”

Ajasin spoke to not only the power of social change at the event, but the activism he has seen in preparation for the House team event. He commented, “The best part about planning this event is seeing just how engaged my fellow house team members are in their preparations. On top of that, I was amazed by the number of people who volunteered to have their art presented, or perform a song, or reveal their interest in activism.”

Pollack, Ajasin, and Asan are all excited about the event, after weeks of planning and organizing. Pollack wrote, “[I’m most excited for people to see] the art…what people have prepared whether about activism or just their own artwork! I don’t think we give Vassar students enough opportunities to showcase art that they might’ve done in class or outside shows!” She noted as well that she is looking forward to the folk singers that the Vassar Greens are planning on bringing from the greater Poughkeepsie area to the event. She continued, “We are working on getting some activist protesters/ singers/ folk singers to come out to the event which will show how the Greens and Cushing are opening the event to the general public as well!”

Ajasin commented on his expectations for the art pieces at the event, “I am most excited for people to see that art is not something that is only made by extraordinary artists and hung up in fancy museums and galleries. Art is created right here, by Vassar students. I want people to see all the wonderful art created by their fellow students.”

Asan is eagerly anticipating a different aspect of the night, “I personally am very excited to see the projected artwork. We are going to project the digital submissions during the open mic performances.” Ajasin closing remark will be sure to draw in a crowd of college students to the event, “There will be sandwiches from Rossi’s and Sparking Apple Cider. Also, there will be folk singers and a host of performances happening. Who is not excited about that?”

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