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Art-Chopped competition brings crowd and seeks to mend student-athlete divide

February 10, 2023

Courtesy of Alfonso Garcia
CHICKEN DINNER: Winner of the first Art-Chopped Competition Alfonso Garcia '25 poses with his painting. Going off the theme of "glass ceilings," Garcia and three others were given 30 minutes to complete their pieces.

Last Thursday, students of all class years flocked to Jack Magee’s Pub and Grill in Smith Union to witness Bowdoin’s first ever “Art-Chopped” competition. The event, piloted by Assistant Class Dean Roosevelt Boone and Assistant Director of Student Activities Eunice Shin, aimed to provide students with an outlet to showcase their artistic capabilities. In collaboration with the Bowdoin Craft Center and the Bowdoin Student Athlete Advisory Committee (BSAAC), they hope to foster community growth for all demographics of students on campus. The initiative was inspired by the popular reality TV show of a similar name.

“There is a television show, ‘Chopped,’ that is a cooking competition with chefs who work together under the same constraints within a timeframe to create their best work. So that’s the premise behind Art-Chopped,” Boone said.

In the spirit of healthy competition, students on varsity athletic teams and non-athlete students were set to compete against each other for the prize of bragging rights, not to mention a $50 gift certificate to Portland Pie. Boone, who started his position at Bowdoin this year, hopes that the event will help mend the divide between athletes and non-athletes.

“We are looking to include four total students to compete to bridge the divide between student athletes and students who don’t compete in a sport,” Boone said. “We wanted to bring students in the same space on the same playing field. It’s really just them and their art.”

This year’s Art-Chopped theme was “glass ceilings,” and students were given 30 minutes to create an image on canvas using any medium of art.

“I was actually inspired by the debt ceiling that was in the news recently. There is also this terminology of women in the workforce hitting a glass ceiling so it can be interpreted as a barrier or something to overcome. There is a lot of room for interpretation which is why we went with it,” Shin said.

This year’s participants consisted of athletes Carl Williams ’23 and Katherine Page ’23 and non-athletes Shumaim Rashid ’26 and Alfonso Garcia ’25. Surrounding the competitors, the pub was alive with student activity. Students piled into booths and munched on slices of pizza, eagerly anticipating the announcement of a winner.

“I came here to do my homework because it seemed like a really lively and diverse atmosphere,” Eisa Rafat ’25 said. “Everyone seems to be here to celebrate art and its creators.”

As time began to run out on the clock, the competing students geared up to present their artwork. Williams presented a canvas that was inspired by Black art history. It depicted a figure holding a one-ton hammer and a chain that appeared to be breaking as it circled the world.

“We as Bowdoin students hold a pretty privileged position and it’s our duty to break that,” Williams said.

Page’s work demonstrated a feminist take on the theme.

“[My piece] represented all the creativity and fun brilliance that women have,” Page said. “Sometimes these things can be prohibited by society or you’re not able to unleash all of that energy.”

After a short period of deliberation from the judges, Garcia took home the prize with a painting depicting a “metaphysical glass ceiling structure.”

“My painting is about how if you’re on a certain level of the glass ceiling, you might be aware of the people that are above you. But for the people that are below you, there is a willful ignorance of their existence. By placing the viewer outside of the artwork, it gives a spectator the ability to see [this concept] for all that it is,” Garcia said.

Afterwards, Garcia reflected on how the event was beneficial to him and to the campus as a whole.

“I left Art-Chopped with greater confidence in my ability to think about artwork and rely on my intuition,” Garcia said. “I also think the athletes that were present at the event were really cool. This just shows to me that art is not exclusive to any one group on campus. It’s for everyone.”

Alfonso Garcia ’25 is a member of the Bowdoin Orient.


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