Nov. 30, 2016
Walking through the subway station on Thanksgiving morning, we were focused on warming up. Then I looked up and cocoa was forgotten for a bit. In front of me and down the hall was a spontaneous, beautiful display of art. Sure, some might not see art in Post-it notes, but I did. Beauty is, after all, in the eye of the beholder. A simple square of paper on its own is just that – a square of paper. Yet here, hundreds of squares in all colors, with words of hope, peace and love, became a work of art.
We paused for a bit to read the messages those before us had left. Some were in other languages. Others were just pictures. All were heartfelt. Somehow, simple Post-its had turned into a community art project in the Union Square subway station. For me, art isn’t just something pretty to look at, but something that makes you feel. As Edgar Degas, one of my favorite artists, once said, “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” What I saw in that station was simply beautiful.
Maria Novotny is a fourth-year doctoral student in the College of Arts and Letters who uses art to help others see and explore the issue of infertility. A co-director of The ART of Infertility, she travels the world exhibiting stories and art related to the issue. She fuses her academic research with community outreach by offering art and creative writing workshops to infertile individuals. Check out the STUDENT VIEW: Art as advocacy, to learn more about her inspiring work.
Joan Rose, one of the world’s top water experts, says that throughout history, public water fountains often served as art. They provided gathering spaces for communities as well as providing essential water. Today’s fountains, when you can find them, often have “little artistic merit or community value.”
She’s hoping that a call for a redesign of the modern drinking fountain can bring back some of those historical qualities. Check out the FACULTY VOICE: MSU Fountain Challenge, to learn about a cool competition for students to help with the endeavor.
If you want to learn more about Rose, the 2016 recipient of the prestigious Stockholm Water Prize, check out last week’s MSUTODAY FEATURE: A seat at the table, and see the striking result of a photo shoot where we put her in the Red Cedar River. She’s not only brilliant; she’s an incredibly good sport.
My colleagues did outstanding work putting together that feature. The photos are absolutely stunning. They too, understood that using art helps people see something important – in this case, the value of endowed chairs to the university.
Spartans are always looking for unique ways to expand the reach of their work. Whether curating an art collection to study a societal issue, using artistic design to bring attention to clean water or creating an online photography exhibit, Spartans constantly find innovative ways to express ideas and make people think. And just like that colorful wall in the subway, when you put all Spartans together, you create one beautiful picture that is changing the world. Spartans Will.