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January 24, 2014

A Community of Artists: CaPA Provides Students with Financial and Creative Support

By Sean Grim ’14

Elizabeth Anderson ’14 (Madison, N.J.) spent the spring 2013 semester in Florence, capturing Italian architecture with her handheld camera. Using the stipend from her Creative and Performing Arts (CaPA) fellowship, the art and English double major was able to expand her horizons beyond Florence, traveling to cities such as Vienna, Berlin, Prague, and Paris.

It was in Prague that her photography began to focus. In the Jewish quarter of the city, antique windows are imprinted with the Star of David, a tangible link to the religion of the resident. Anderson realized that she had not only taken dozens of photographs of these windows, but of portals across Europe, inspiring her project, “Doors and Windows of the World.”

The CaPA Fellowship program, endowed by Bruce ’65 and Jackie P ’02 Maggin, offers financial backing to the burgeoning artists of Lafayette. There are 32 CaPA Fellows on campus, pursuing passions ranging from creative writing to studio art to musical performance. Forming a community of artists on campus, CaPA fellows meet regularly as a group and individually with Jim Toia, CaPA coordinator and director of the art department’s Community-Based Teaching Program, to discuss their work and art in general.

Read about other previous CaPA projects

For Anderson, who aspires to work as a creative director or copy writer for an advertising agency, the sounding board of trusted and creative colleagues has been valuable. Her project has become an honors thesis that combines the images with her original poetry.

While the structure of these gateways interested her, she was much more fascinated with the mystery of the people behind the threshold—what was their story? She continued to search for the literal answer with her camera while she pondered the metaphysical answer with her pen, writing poems exploring the depths of human emotion—windows into the soul.

Art major Will Rockafellow ’14 (Rosemont, Pa.) has explored numerous media and subjects during his time as CaPA Fellow. His first project was an outdoor sculpture designed for interaction. Using found materials such as shipping pallets, he constructed a perch high in the trees behind Fisher Hall. Perched in a nearly inaccessible location, the platform was slightly off-balance, scaring the brave few who sat upon it that they might fall.

Rockafellow, who plans to earn a graduate degree in product design, says the platform was intended to be a place of reflection. The struggle to reach the perch and the imbalance once atop were physical manifestations of the struggle to attain lucid reflection. Once safely situated atop the stand, however, the “thinker” had an unobstructed view far into the distance, surrounded by the serenity of nature.

For his senior project, Rockafellow has parlayed his work with the observation platform into a photographic study of human vulnerability. He is taking candid shots of his friends during their daily lives, with the goal of portraying the essence of their personalities. For example, he has photographed one of his friends while she cooks, capturing her passion for food. He hopes to demonstrate that mundane activities can elicit deep emotion, just as much as solitary mediation in the woods.

Aleni MacKarey ’16 (Clark Summit, Pa.), an English and theater double major, is president of the all-female a cappella group Cadence, serving as its musical director this past semester. But it is in the theater where MacKarey shines brightest, starring in the last three College Theater productions.

MacKarey credits Toia for cultivating her artistic zeal. As part of the CaPA program, Toia takes the fellows to see performances in venues such as Carnegie Hall and exhibitions in galleries such as the Museum of Modern Art. MacKarey says the tight knit nature of the group has developed a deep level of teamwork and support, and she attributes much of her success to the guidance of Toia and her peers.

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