Students in Philosophy 108 and Graphic Design 149 not only study philosophy and art – they live it.
Students from the two linked courses will be presenting their art and poetry in an exhibition titled “(That’s Not) The Story” on Thursday, May 20 from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Saville Theatre lobby. A reception will also be held and the event is free to the public.
The exhibition will showcase students’ work inspired by their collaboration with Special Delivery, a nonprofit organization comprised of volunteers, who cook and deliver meals five days a week to more than 130 homebound people with severe disease.
Students prepared meals in the Special Delivery kitchen and delivered the meals to the recipients’ homes, enabling them to interview the recipients and hear their stories. The students then created poetry, art journals and art installations based on these interviews.
“The objective (of the exhibition) is to celebrate the voices and lives of individuals who are homebound with critical illness,” said Professor Andrea Singer, instructor of Graphic Design 149. “We are trying to model for students that if you want to change the world, the steps to do that (are) in your thinking, behavior and art making.”
Graphic Design 149, Studio Practices: Making Art and Design Relevant for Community, and Philosophy 108, Perspectives on Human Nature and Society, which is taught by Singer’s husband, Professor William Stewart, together form a hybrid course that emphasizes active involvement in the community. Students- have created art journals every week throughout the semester, which are based on philosophic traditions they have studied, volunteering at Special Delivery and students’ personal revelations they have experienced throughout the semester.
“The class has been an amazing experience,” student Desireé Aspiras commented. “We get to be involved with a great community organization and create art that will, hopefully, make people more aware of Special Delivery and the homebound individuals it serves. In particular, our study of several philosophical traditions have provided additional perspectives for us which have been meaningful in our interviewing, volunteering and art making.”
Philosophy 108 is not your typical philosophy class where students read about a certain philosophical idea, write about it and discuss it. Questions regarding the individual and its role in society are explored and a community within the classroom is formed.
“One of the essential aspects in exploring this question is, of course, to not just keep philosophy trapped in the theoretical, but to bring it into the experiential,” Stewart said. “If philosophy cannot help us to understand and live our lives more fully, then it is not providing our students all that it can.”
In addition to their volunteer work with Special Delivery, the classroom community went rock climbing and traveled to Deer Park Monastery, where they lived like monks for a weekend, partaking in Zazen meditation, mindful walking, noble silence and Dharma discussions. To conclude the semester, students will get together and share in a last supper pot luck together.