Olivia Verwerked ’21 sits in her room, drawing a large landscape she has been commissioned online. In between her schoolwork and her campus job, she creates, perfecting her craft and hopefully making enough money to pay off some student loans. Now and then she’ll get featured in an arts publication, and the fat paycheck and her name in print makes her think all the hard work will be worth it. A job in the art world isn’t easy to get, but Verwerked might just have a chance. She hopes, with a few internships and good enough grades, she can break into the industry after graduation and turn her life’s passion into a career.
On the other side of the room, her roommate racks up the largest salary on campus making furry commissions.
Vassar has a lot of artists and even more people who think they’re artists. In a sense, our art is the epitome of college culture: not that good but good enough for Admissions to be able to make it look impressive. Yes, there are legitimately good artists on campus—we are lucky to have dozens of singers, writers, artists, dancers and more in our ranks. But what about the rest?
Vassar has a beautiful campus and allegedly beautiful buildings, so it’s no surprise so many photographers are about. Most photographers can be found pointing their cameras at the lake, the Quad or as far away from that one tree near Chicago Hall as possible. There are, of course, other kinds of photo-taking that are a lot more popular, but my parents read this paper, so you’ll just have to use your imagination.
As with all art, the quality of Vassar’s music varies. At open mics in the Mug, you can hear acts like Henry Arp ’22, who frequently touches the souls of fellow students with his melancholy violin arrangements. If you stay a few minutes after Arp finishes, you can also hear Trevor Rash ’23, who goes by the stage name Big Noice, perform his latest mumble rap hit, “Fire Alarm (Wah Wah)”. “Surprisingly, my style doesn’t really seem to be catching on just yet,” Rash told the Misc. “I think my lyrics are just going over everyone’s head.” As he performs, the pure emotion exuded by the crowd makes it clear: They wish it went over their heads.
Some art mediums have something of a hierarchy. Take, for example, the written word: The best writers at Vassar have their work exhibited in high-quality products such as Portrait, the Vassar Insider and the Disorientation Guide. Conversely, less talented writers opt to write for The Miscellany News and convince themselves that the humor section is actually funny.
The debate of whether magic counts as an art has thundered for centuries in the smallest bars and largest stages. But not at Vassar, of course, because nobody’s good enough at magic for people to call their work art with a straight face. However, there are a few acts worth following. Dylan Runk ’23, an up-and-coming magician, has a party trick of making all White Claws in a three mile radius mysteriously disappear. His show partner, Leo Oanlie ’21, alternatively wows the crowd by remaining a virgin despite having attended every Mug Night for three years. While Oanlie refuses to reveal his secrets, most experts attribute his success to him being a Vassar student.
Some have tried comedy.
Dancing is an integral part of Vassar culture, and boy does it show. Groups such as actual dance groups legitimately light up the stage whenever they perform, giving a good name to the school and themselves. However, far away from the big stages and consenting audiences, the performance art side of Vassar dance establishes a unique brand. Most notable of the underground is Kyle Kyle ’19, whom you can spot around campus crying in front of vending machines. Kyle made a name for himself by crashing TH parties on the regular and trying to dance on the host’s furniture, thus making him the second highest threat to TH valuables at Vassar.
Vassar is a supposedly diverse place with a great variety of artists, some of them even good. In this examination, we’ve only looked at a few of the many performers and creators unfortunately sharing the stage with the cool people we all know and love. If you still have yet to encounter these sides of Vassar, just keep an eye on your local bulletin board to find out more. If you’ve already encountered them, Metcalf is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays.