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Art: an intimate friend

September 22, 2023

This piece represents the opinion of the Bowdoin Orient Editorial Board.

At Bowdoin, art is everywhere. On most weekends, you’ll find an a capella concert, theater production or Bowdoin Film Society screening on the docket. Before the Maine winter sets in, visual arts students can be found painting landscapes on the quad. You can’t even rush from H-L Library to your class in Searles without passing the Bowdoin College Museum of Art (BCMA), which is bursting with both world-renowned exhibits and is a work of art in itself.

Bowdoin’s plentiful ways to make and appreciate art cultivate a one-of-a-kind creative culture, and this is no accident. These opportunities are as integral to your development and liberal arts education as writing an essay or studying for an exam. They’re also a lot more fun.

The Offer of the College, which every student has the chance to reflect on before coming to Bowdoin, asks its readers to “count … art, an intimate friend.” We sincerely hope you will.

For those who want to make their own art, Bowdoin is lush with possibility. Musicians can join a capella, chamber choir, jazz band or even access space and equipment to form a band of their own. If the visual arts are more your thing, you can use the craft center’s impressive pottery studio or rent a camera from H-L to take photos or shoot films. You can even access curatorial opportunities through the BCMA and have a hand in an exhibit of your own.

Not the “artist type”? No problem—if you don’t want to make art, there’s plenty to enjoy. Next time you see a poster for a film screening hanging in your common room, invite your friends to check out the new, state-of-the-art film screening room in Mills Hall. When the Entertainment Board brings a musician to campus this spring, go, even if you don’t know the artist. Tonight is the bi-annual students’ night at the BCMA, which is a chance to check out exhibits in a formal-but-fun atmosphere. The best part of these opportunities is that they’re all free.

Perhaps the most important thing about the arts, especially at a college, is that they are integral to building a thriving and close-knit community.

Whether you know it or not, artists are an essential part of the Bowdoin social landscape—they are your floormates, classmates, professors and friends. These artists deserve to be celebrated with the same excitement that athletes receive at sporting events. Without the support of their peers, Bowdoin’s alumni working in artistic fields may have never succeeded. When students buy into the arts—as performers, enjoyers, applause-givers and applause-receivers—everyone wins.

From Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to Hari Kondabolu to DJ Spooky, generations of Bowdoin students have discovered what the arts mean to them. Join them—you owe it to yourself.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Editorial Board, which is composed of Emma Kilbride, Jane Olsen, Rin Pastor, Margaret Unger, Vaughn Vial, Sam Pausman and Juliana Vandermark.


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