Growing through the arts

By Colin Froment – Co-Editor-in-Chief

Senior arts management students Kierstan Hywell and Alex Franciosi, with help from Associate Professor of Arts Management Deborah Baldizar, displayed their senior practicum showcase, the “Growth Project” in the Wedeman Gallery in Yamawaki Auditorium until April 12.

Students in art classes, as well as Lasell Village residents and children from The Barn, were invited to submit paintings, poems, stories, drawings, photographs, and sculptures related to the project’s overall theme of personal growth. The public got their first viewing of the exhibit during a ceremony on Sunday, March 31. A “growth tree” composing of paper leaves hung on a tree branch designed by Hywell and Franciosi was introduced. Visitors wrote answers to three questions about personal growth on the leaves and were given the opportunity to place them on the tree.

The idea of using the theme of “growth” stemmed from both Hywell and Franciosi incorporating their personal passion for art while writing their practicum papers this past fall semester. “We have both grown through the arts and found our passion through art,” Hywell said. “Making our art show theme ‘growth’ seemed to have fit us both and what we had envisioned. We also wanted to highlight people’s growth and their interpretations of growth through art.”

The two seniors spent their entire spring semester organizing the project and collecting the art pieces, with some brainstorming done before the start of winter break. “It was non-stop thinking every day,” Franciosi said. “We had to contribute a certain amount of time each week to thinking and planning.”

The showcase also included a public discussion, where the audience could share their opinions on what personal and societal growth means to them. Attendees each shared one word that they thought of when they heard “growth.” This showcase was attended by students, family members, Director of Wedeman Gallery Professor Vladimir Zimakov, and professors Stephen Fischer, Ken Calhoun and Margo Lemieux.

“We hope that everyone who came to the event and who [continued] to come through [Wedeman] will walk away with a better understanding of art in our society, and how much we can grow from it,” Hywell said. “We hope that people walked away reflecting on themselves and the power of art, and society in general.”

During the showcase, Zimakov announced that the “Growth Project” would be the last student- organized gallery in Wedeman, as the school is removing the arts management major from its curriculum starting in Fall 2019.

“The removal of the program is sad, to me, because this program has done so much for me, it’s done so much for the community and it’s opened up a lot of doors for both me and Alex,” said Hywell. “It’s directed [me to] where I want to go in life. This program shaped me into a better person and who I am as a person.”

With the program being cut, Franciosi wants to use her project to remind others how impactful art is. “I’m stuck on that idea that people aren’t realizing how important art is and how you can do so much with it,” she said.

The growth tree will be donated to the Brennan Children’s Library located underneath Winslow Academic Center at some point in the near future to symbolize a child’s growth.

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