High 'Fives' for Campus Art Project

High 'Fives' for Campus Art Project

Sculptures touting Arts Festival also a vehicle of students' expression

By Sean Smith
Chronicle Editor

All right, so what's with the "5"s already?

During the first few weeks of April, "5"-shaped sculptures began popping up in various locations across the Boston College campus, from the McElroy Commons third-floor lobby to the Fulton Hall atrium to the Law School Library.

The Liturgy Arts Group's contribution to the "Fives Project," which earlier this month stood in the Bapst Library lobby, is one of 17 such sculptures distributed across campus. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)
Neither a "Sesame Street" tutorial come to life, nor a twist on the "2001: A Space Odyssey" monolith, the "5"s celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Boston College Arts Festival, which runs today through Saturday.

The figures - 17 of them, all five feet tall by three feet wide and three feet deep - are the product of a public art project undertaken by 17 student groups, each of them responsible for designing and producing their own "5." Participants in the "Fives Project" say the experience was an opportunity to use their creative and collaborative skills and, in the process, offer a unique window on the University.

The sculpture by WZBC, for example, is colored silver and festooned with CDs, headphones and other accoutrements of the radio broadcast profession. The Chinese Student Association's entry is red and gold and features Chinese icons and designs, while the "5" submitted by the Environmental Action Coalition has ecological themes and messages.

"So many diverse groups took an interest in this project, and what's exciting is, many of them are not organizations that are commonly associated with the arts," said Karen Goldfeder '03, an administrative assistant for the arts festival who has helped to oversee the Fives Project.

This entry by the Chinese Student Association, shown in Higgins Hall last week, will be on display with the other Fives Project sculptures in O'Neill Plaza during this week's Arts Festival. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)
"Art is a way to express oneself where words cannot suffice. I feel that this exhibition truly encompasses that statement with the breadth of sculptures we have received."

Fran Grabowski '03, one of the project's architects, said, "It's a fun, entertaining way of spreading the word. Someone will walk by the sculptures and ask, 'What's that?' and those who know will tell him or her. So now, when that person hears somebody else ask about the sculptures, he or she will be able to provide the answer."
As part of the occasion, all "5"s were to be moved this week to O'Neill Plaza and other nearby locations for the duration of the festival. WCVB-TV reporter Kelley Tuthill is scheduled to join a panel that will judge the sculptures and pick the best two, say organizers. Once the event is over, the groups can reclaim their sculptures, if they wish.

The project grew out of discussions last fall between student leaders and arts festival staff on devising inventive ways to commemorate the festival's fifth anniversary. Grabowski suggested an initiative patterned after large-scale municipal "theme" sculpture projects such as "Cows on Parade". The organizers considered an eagle motif for the project but decided it would be difficult to undertake, Grabowski recalls, and instead hit upon the idea of "5."

"From the very first, there was a lot of excitement about the idea," said Goldfeder. "It was great to see the enthusiasm spread to others in the University community."

Adj. Asst. Prof. Mark Cooper (Fine Arts), who has coordinated several collaborative projects for the arts festival, constructed the basic sculpture out of wood and blank white canvas. In February, Fives Project leaders invited members of the University community to submit proposals for sculptures and then selected 17 finalists. The groups sought sponsors to raise $500 for the labor and materials to construct each "5."

Last month, the participants began decorating their sculptures in ways that evoked their group's respective identity and nature.

Groups such as the PULSE Program and the UNICEF-Global Justice Project showcased their organizational mission and focus. The PULSE "5" sculpture includes signatures from youths at the Italian Home for Children, a residential and day treatment program where PULSE students lend assistance. The UNICEF-Global Justice Program incorporated into its "5" a list that purported to compare the cost of war-related materials and activities with those of social initiatives.

One band of Walsh Hall students turned their "5" into a facsimile of the residence hall's exterior, adorned with photos and pictures of Walsh residents and word balloons - "kind of like what you'd see in 'Batman,'" according to one contributor.

"We just thought this was a great way to get involved in the festival," said Christine Burns '04, a Walsh residential assistant. "Not everyone is artistic, or can perform, but there are still ways you can express yourself. It was also a valuable experience working together and coming up with ideas."

More information on the Fives Project is available at /offices/artscouncil/festival/fives/.


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