Beats and Pieces brings to campus a multicultural view of art

Students and community put work on display in “Origins”

By Hallie Grumer

While the University of Chicago may have a reputation for being weak in the visual arts, that’s slowly changing. Certainly the Logan Arts Center is a large contributor, but so are student efforts. “Origins” is a student-organized and student-created art show that displays arts from both the campus and community.

“Origins” was first created in 2009 by fourth-year Adama Wiltshire when she was inspired to change the art scene on campus. The lack of art shows was her inspiration, and the building of the Logan Arts Center provided her with the perfect opportunity. She took the construction of the new center to signal a shift towards a greater presence of the arts on campus.

Wiltshire teamed up with the RSO Beats and Pieces, which strives to connect the surrounding community with art. She and former Beats and Pieces vice president Ashtin Berry collaboratively brainstormed the idea of a multicultural art exhibit, while Marrissa Washington, fourth-year and current president of Beats and Pieces, along with her vice president, Shiraz Gallab worked on publicizing it.

Wiltshire, Washington, Berry, and Gallab wanted to create a space for the artist, allowing students to discover just what an artist can be. In doing so, they have brought together people from entirely different backgrounds, hence the name “Origins.” The show strives to celebrate multicultural approaches to art, as well as each artist’s origins in their native country.

To help organize the show and promote a multicultural approach, Beats and Pieces collaborated with multicultural RSOs like Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan and the Puerto Rican Students Association. Plus, the show is being held at the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.

There are six artists—some students and some community members—included in “Origins” this year: Social Sciences graduate student Sohad Murrar contributed spoken word poetry, while Yvonne Jeffries’s wire sculptures, Analia Rodriguez’s collages, Shirley Moore-Munos’s charcoal rubbings, Miguel Arroyo’s photography and painting, and fourth-year Victoria Maya’s sculptures are all on display.

Each artist brings something different to the show, “[which is] what I love about them,” Washington said.

Some of the artists will even be selling their pieces at the show. This two-day art exhibit is unique to campus, and through it, Washington hopes that such shows will continue with the opening of the Logan Arts Center.

This exhibit provides the opportunity for students and community members to expand their cultural horizons and to help develop a vibrant campus art scene to welcome in the new Center. It is not only a collaboration with the community, but one with the students as well, challenging them to open their eyes to these different forms of art and perspectives. By teaming up with the “Origins” art show, Beats and Pieces hopes to achieve its goal in an interesting and exciting way.

In light of the progress “Origins” has made since its first run last year, Wiltshire’s project only stands to grow. Unlike last year, “Origins 2.0,” as Washington likes to call this year’s incarnation, has been in the works since the beginning of September.

“Last year, we sort of threw it together, and I still don’t know how we did it,” she said with a laugh. “This year we had more time, but there is still so much to do.”