Artistic creations often exist as lasting monuments to their creators, and each year, a select group of students gets an exciting opportunity to leave their own stamp on the College’s vibrant art community. Now in its third year, the Creative and Performing Arts (CaPA) Fellowship supports students in turning their artistic visions into realities.
CaPA students, who come from various majors and backgrounds, form a community of artists on campus. The fellows meet regularly as a group and one on one with the program coordinator to discuss their work and art in general. They help organize arts-based events and activities on campus and also travel to New York City to see performances and visit galleries and museums.
Inaugural CaPA fellows Brett Billings ’12 (Marion, Kan.), Sean Ryon ’12 (Kennett Square, Pa.), Samantha Smith ’12 (Lynnfield, Mass.), and Sara Somach ’13 (Shaker Heights, N.H.) continue to blaze the trail for others.
Last fall, Billings presented what is perhaps America’s most famous radio drama broadcast, Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds. Under his direction, the College Theater production conjured the essence of the original 1938 broadcast with a set simulating a Great Depression-era radio studio, period costumes, and a live student jazz combo. This year, he’s beginning another ambitious project for the stage combining historical and contemporary modes and roles of radio theater.
“It is my strong belief that the artist is first and foremost a storyteller,” says Billings, an English major. “How can a story be told using only sound? In a time when pixels seem to be replacing people, the concept of radio theater requires audience members to, quite simply, just listen.”
CaPA students may use their fellowships to fund special projects, internships, research, study abroad, and other activities. This past summer, Ryon, an English major, was an intern at Albert Maysles Productions and with New York City’s premier hip hop radio station, Hot 97. He’s teaching himself how to sample and produce hip hop beats. Working with producer J57 of the New York-based Brown Bag All-Stars, he’s crafting his sound and marketing his beats to artists. He also hopes to collaborate with Lafayette-based rappers. This year, he’s working on a full-length documentary about hip hop production and the implications technology has in redefining modern music.
Another key element of the CaPA experience is access to private sessions and workshops with professional artists, performers, and writers, such as legendary opera singer Thomas Lawlor, novelist Sam Lipsyte, and internationally acclaimed painter Terry Winters. Last year, Smith was invited to attend Grammy Award-winning Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s pre-concert practice and pre-show lecture.
“Both were experiences that, had I not been in CaPA, I would not have attended,” says Smith, a mathematics-economics major. “I had never been to a pre-concert practice before, and it was so interesting to see how the performers worked with one another and warmed up. They were incredibly cohesive as a unit, and it was wonderful to get to see them work.”
Smith, director of the student a cappella group Soulfege, has ambitions in theater, music, and art. She takes voice and piano lessons, performs in College Theater productions, has modeled in several fashion shows, and designs and sells jewelry.
Somach’s study of the cello has faced some setbacks from a wrist injury that severely limited her playing time. But she’s used the experience to explore how similar injuries are treated in musicians. This past summer, the music major took an anatomy and physiology course and served an internship at The Cleveland Clinic, shadowing occupational and physical therapists. She rehabbed her injury this summer and is back to taking lessons and practicing her technique.
The second class of CaPA Fellows includes Elizabeth Anderson ’14 (Madison, N.J.), John Paul Bisciotti ’14 (Media, Pa.), Elisabeth Burnor ’14 (Rockaway, N.J.), Madeline Gambino ’14 (Bethlehem, Pa.), Ross Houston ’14 (Bradford Woods, Pa.), Samantha Ladell ’14 (Livingston, N.J.), Anne Lauer ’14 (Annandale, N.J.), Michael Pinkard ’14 (Puyallup, Wash.), Will Rockafellow ’14 (Rosemont, Pa.), and Allie Shumeyko ’14 (Vestal, N.Y.).
With 12 fantasy novels under her belt, Gambino started the Fantasy Reading Group for students interested in reading and discussing the genre. Working on a six-book series she hopes to complete by the time she graduates, she’s in the midst of major revisions on the four completed books and has begun work on the fifth. She hopes to learn more about different cultures and histories through her coursework so she can create richer worlds in her books.
“Though creative writing has been a passion of mine for many years, Lafayette has provided me with the opportunities to really develop and push my art,” says Gambino, a history major. “Here, I have been able to take an old passion and give it new life.”
Ladell, a psychology major, plans to use her fellowship to expand her interests in psychology, neuroscience, art, and writing. She’s searching for connections between art and science and wants to explore using art and writing as therapy tools for children.
But more than her own project, she’s enjoying her inclusion in the campus arts community. Discussing her artistic passions with the other CaPA fellows at their monthly meetings has opened up a new creative world.
“CaPA has introduced me to a group of people who are as devoted and passionate about the arts as I am,” she says. “We talk about ways where we can be heard or noticed and how to make a difference.”
A member of Concert Choir and the Chamber Singers, Shumeyko has been strengthening her prowess as a vocal coach. As the vocal director of various theater productions, she warmed up the actors’ voices and taught them the music. She also had a supporting role in the Marquis Players’ production of Aida; she discovered a love of acting at a circus camp in her hometown. For her CaPA project, she wants to create a short musical and perform it or use her circus background to introduce local children to the art of performance.
“My acceptance to the CaPA program for musical theater was greatly responsible for my ultimate decision to come to Lafayette,” says Shumeyko, an English major. “I love being a part of it. As a tour guide, I have been encouraging prospective students who are interested in the arts to apply, and I cannot wait to watch it grow into something great!”
The newest crop of CaPA Fellows includes Claire Filipek ’15 (Hastings- On- Hudson, N.Y.), Elizabeth Lucy ’15 (New Hope, Pa.), Ian Crawley ’15 (Doylestown, Pa.), Julia Campbell ’15 (Plymouth Meeting, Pa.), and Leslie Teshima ’15 (Madison, N.J.).
The CaPA program was created through the generosity of Bruce ’65 and Jackie P ’02 Maggin. Jim Toia, director of the art department’s Community-Based Teaching program, is founding coordinator. It provides up to $7,500 over four years to admitted Lafayette students with a record of achievement in creative and performing arts. Fellows pursue a genre of their choice and are expected to perform, exhibit, or present their work to the College community.