News

October 24, 2007

The Power of Community Arts

Students partner with the Easton community through First-Year Seminar

The First-Year Seminar, “Taking It to the Streets: The Theory and Practice of Community Arts in Urban America,” is challenging students to walk away from their notions of volunteering and to instead focus on the possibilities of community partnership.

The course, taught by Bonnie Winfield, director of the Landis Community Outreach Center, engages first-year students through numerous activities and projects on campus and in Easton to see the power that the arts can have in transforming the community. While volunteering is of course valuable, students are being encouraged to build creativity and find solutions for community issues by partnering with the community.

  • Sayra Havranek ’11 Discusses Her Experiences with Her First-Year Seminar

“There is power in the arts. They serve as a way to connect with others,” says Winfield. “Through art, amazing things can happen.”

Working through the Landis Center, the students focus on learning and helping the community through the process of CRAFT (Contact Research Action Feedback Teaching.)

So far, students have participated in the “Contact” process by interviewing Easton community members at Lafayette Day in Centre Square and by attending different events in downtown Easton. They have also begun the “Research” process by trying to find out what needs exist in the community and discovering what they can do for these needs. Winfield encourages her students to spend time helping at Third Street Alliance, Kids in the Community, and the Easton Area Senior Center.

“We learn as much from the community as we give to the community. By being partners with the community, we can build social capital and make Easton a better place,” says Winfield.

The class has taken part in numerous art projects. They built a sculpture (which is currently located behind Pardee Hall) with the help of guests, such as Easton Mayor Philip Mitman. The sculpture focuses on shelter and the community coming together to build home. The students also created two murals on paper and took them to the Easton Area Community Center for the children there to enjoy.

For their final project, the students will use research by Alan Raisman ’10 (Huntingdon Valley, Pa.), an international economics and commerce major, from his “One Word, One City” project to present an interactive arts event.

Students will video scenes of Easton. This footage will then be shown on the wall of the room while members of the community and the Lafayette campus read a word on a card that they are given. The words that they read will have been collected from Easton natives as well as Lafayette students, faculty, and alumni who have chosen a single word to describe Easton. The event should serve to bring together the Easton community through an artistic avenue.

The class has also attended theatrical performances which attempt to address many community issues. One of the performances was by DICE (Dramatic Involvement Community Ensemble) at the Touchstone Theatre in Bethlehem. This performance shows the use of theatre techniques to address social issues in the community. The students also attended N*GGER WETB*CK CH*NK: The Race Show, a theatrical work which discusses different ethnic backgrounds at the Williams Center for the Arts.

The class will also make connections on campus with Alastair Noble’s public art exhibit and symposium.

Students in the class are Jon Canter (New York, N.Y.), Gabriel Eusebio (Falls Church, Va.), Sayra Havranek (New Paltz, N.Y.), Alexandra Henry (Warrington, Pa.), Taisha Jerez (Bronx, N.Y.), Thomas Johnson (Allendale, N.J.), Jasmine Little (Trenton, N.J.), Marissa Martorella (Utica, N.Y.), Andrew Preller (Rockville Centre, N.Y.), Rachel Rohinsky (North Haven, Conn.), Alisha Roller (Simsbury, Conn.), Marina Shirley (Brick, N.J.), Kevin Troyan (Jamesport, N.Y.), Rachel Waitzman (West Hartford, Conn.), and Tiffany Welch (Washington, D.C.).

  • First-Year Seminar
  • First-Year Experiences
  • Service Learning
  • Class of 2011 Homepage
  • Landis Community Outreach Center
  • Alan Raisman ’10 Explores Descriptions of the City of Easton
  • Exhibit and Sculpture Symposium will Feature Public Art

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