Posted October 19, 2016 by
Tags: The Arts The Liberal Arts My Wheaton
Ministry and Healing Through Wheaton's Community Art Program
During my college search senior year I was looking at different art programs. I saw that Wheaton had a Community Art major, which was something I had never heard of nor seen at any other school. From the Wheaton website my understanding was that, basically, Community Art combines art-making and people. I knew then that this was what I was called to study and as I have learned more about what it means, I have come to love it more and more.
I am currently in Community Art 1 and my favorite thing about the class has been the Wednesday class dinners. During these dinners, we continue our lecture from that day and ask each other questions. This has allowed us to become really close as a class and dive deeper into the topics through sharing our opinions.
My classmates and I are currently working on a mural project in collaboration with an English Writing class about writing for community art. The subject of our mural is zebras and stress. These two things may seem to have no relation at first, but let me explain. One day in class, a fellow classmate brought up that she learned that zebras do not experience stress like humans do, so they don’t experience the negative effects that stress can have on the body. So Professor Samuelson decided that the subject of our mural would be zebras. With the English Writing class, we collaged zebra masks and took a class photo which we are now painting. We hope that through this mural we can raise awareness about the health effects stress can have and that mental health can be a topic we talk about more openly on campus.
One question that I have been working through is, how do we know when a community art project has been successful? I still do not have a clear answer to this and it is something we will be working through this semester. A lot of the topics we cover examine the different ways that a community art project can be successful. For example, last week we all shared what we would like to teach or heal through community art. So, if we accomplished what we wanted by teaching or healing, but the art project is not aesthetically pleasing, is it still a success? I think this can be a challenging part of community art and I am excited to learn more of how to approach it this semester.
If you are considering pursuing Community Art as a major, I would say to go for it. Community Art is more than painting murals with other people. The things I am learning in class have already been so useful in so many aspects of my life–you can apply the things you will learn in Community Art to anything you do.
I am happy that I decided to come to Wheaton because of the amazing people I have in my life now. I have made some of my closest friends here–friends that truly care about me and challenge me to be a better person.
John Mark Daniel ’19 is a sophomore Art and Spanish double major. To learn more about Wheaton’s Community Art and Missions major, click here. Photo captions (top to bottom): John Mark Daniel's Community Art class posing with zebra masks in front of Edman Chapel; the Community Art 1 class working on the zebra mural together; current progress on the mural.