Putting the ‘Art’ In Liberal Arts

Photo By: Rachel Wojnar

We go to school on a beautiful campus. The buildings and landscaping are pleasant to look at, and they’re complemented by elegant installations, like the new fountain in front of Big Baker, and the rock sculpture next to the library. In the library, there are several magnificent sculptures, paintings, drawings, and other artworks by faculty and students. Hill Hall is, as of recent, showing student-made prints that adorn the walls on the first floor. It’s wonderful to see the creations of the McDaniel community in places we go every day. I love seeing these pieces as I walk around campus, and I’m always inspired after being around art. However, some of the buildings on campus aren’t exhibiting art at all.

Take for instance, the residence halls. Most of them have little or no art in the common areas. Though students have the freedom to decorate their individual rooms to their content, the hallways and common rooms are drab and dull. Who wants to live surrounded with plain white walls?

The same goes for many academic buildings; the walls are empty, with the exception of informational posters. The lack of art in these buildings creates a cold, almost unwelcoming environment, even though the people at McDaniel are quite the opposite. It’s no fun to spend hours every day in places like this. A little bit of art would make going to class more enjoyable, especially for those of us who are more visually oriented.

 At a liberal arts college like our own, where interactions between different areas of study is encouraged, art in academic buildings should be more than welcome. Earlier this semester, there was an exhibit in the Rice Gallery called “SKEPSIS,” by Breon Gilleran, which was centered on aspects of sciences. It’s great that science is welcome in the art building, but shouldn’t art be just as welcome in the science department? That kind of art would be perfect in an area like Lewis, where most science classes are. It would create a much more welcoming atmosphere for the students and faculty who spend a good chunk of their time in these places, and it would make the look of McDaniel match the school’s ideals and community.

With the addition of more art around campus, not only could we create a better environment for the McDaniel community, but we could encourage artistic students to express themselves. Students should have the opportunity to share themselves and their passions with the college. As wonderful as the Rice Gallery is, exhibits there are only temporary, and not all students get the chance (or even think to) stop by the gallery. If we as students could easily display our art in other buildings, we could leave our marks on campus, expressing ourselves, and inspiring others. Whether it’s a few drawings here and there, or murals to liven up walls, we could make a difference around campus.

I’m not saying that our campus is completely devoid of art. McDaniel is a beautiful place. But we could make it even better with some more art in the places that need it.