While most Bowdoin students were snoozing on Saturday morning, a small group of art enthusiasts gathered at McLellan Building at 9 a.m. to embark upon an epic artistic journey. Students in Advanced Studies in Visual Art, a class taught by Visiting Assistant Professor of Art Anna Hepler, spent 15 hours completing a studio marathon dedicated to whichever project they chose. Some students explored new ways of developing photography, some delved into the art of Chinese calligraphy, and some even used shoes as a medium for sculpture.
This was the second marathon of the semester. The first included visits from outside artists such as Haig Demarjian who provided inspiration and advice to Bowdoin artists. Demarjian, a Boston-based mixed media artist, currently teaches drawing at Salem State College in Massachusetts.
The marathon was a way for Hepler to allow her students to look at traditional mediums in new and complex ways.
"The studio marathon stimulates the creative process by cross-pollination within the studio, that is, watching others work and being influenced by what is being made around you," Hepler said. "Making things and being engaged as a maker has a snowball effect. The more you do it, the easier it is, and the deeper your ideas. I wanted to set the stage for that type of experience."
The opportunity for members of the class to offer input on each other's projects was another important aspect of the marathon.
"I was also interested in how the experience would change the group dynamic," Hepler said. "Specifically, I wanted it to be a bonding experience for the group."
Jenna Breiter '10 was enthused at the length of time spent with her work.
"Of course the long hours were draining, but the investigation is just as important under a tired state of mind as any other," Breiter said. "New things happen when you're tired that you may never have allowed yourself to do, but with a different level of energy and focus there are different options you find available to yourself."
Breiter used the first marathon to collaborate with others in her class to create a woodcut using ink and Color Aid, a manufactured colored paper supplied by one of the visiting artists.
Although Breiter focused on one project, not all students used their time in the same way.
"The marathon wasn't necessarily about completing projects but about being open to experimentation," Breiter said.
To strengthen the bond within the class, a number of Bowdoin art professors attended the marathon to provide guidance. Among the art department faculty present was Visiting Assistant Professor of Art Meggan Gould.
"It is rare, in my own studio, to have the opportunity to spend 15 uninterrupted hours with a specific project or projects, and it seemed like an amazing chance to spend a concentrated spurt of time on my work," Gould said. "I brought several projects?a few that I had intended to experiment with for months, another that has been in process for a while."
Gould appreciated the benefits of such an extensive and time-consuming endeavor.
"I think it is incredibly useful for the student participants to isolate themselves in their artwork for such a dedicated chunk of time," she said. "It intensifies the process of working through, and moving on from, certain blocks in one's work."
The projects created by students in the class during the first studio marathon were previously displayed at the Visual Arts Center and the class's final project will be on display at Fort Andross at the end of the semester.