Students Construct a Multimedia Art Installation for the Community Day of Poetry

April 26, 2019
Six students stand in front of an art installation that depicts the inside of the MBTA's Red Line.

As part of the April 26 Community Day of Poetry celebration, the students of ARTS 255: Dynamic Interface Design created a multimedia Poetry on the T-inspired exhibition, Next Stop, in Pendleton West 205 that has visual, audio, and physical components, including seats that were created and assembled by hand. Modeled after, and using footage from, a real car on the MBTA’s Red Line, the installation immerses visitors in poems written by members of the Wellesley community.

Creating the exhibition was no small feat. Along with their professor, David Olsen, associate professor of art, the students worked for over a month on the installation, both during and outside of class, and under a tight time constraint. During the process, they struggled with numerous logistical problems and unfamiliar technology. “There were problems all along the way,” Tiffany Sharma ’20 said, “and as frustrating as that can be, I still really enjoyed that because every little obstacle that we were able to overcome was so satisfying.”

The students were excited to feature poetry written by Wellesley alumnae, professors, and current students and to introduce the community to a new way of experiencing poetry. “Poetry is very visual,” said Sei Park ’21. “[I]n a few lines, it has to express an idea, it has to express a vision.”

Dan Chiasson, Lorraine C. Wang Professor of English and co-organizer of the Community Day of Poetry, praised the student artists’ work. “Olsen and his class have lifted poetry off the page and disconnected it from mere words—they have created a living environment where poetry surrounds the viewer,” he said. “It also suggests how poetry circulates in communities once it makes its way out of poets’ imaginations. This project began inside people’s minds. Now it’s a tangible thing in the world, involving dozens of individuals and their unique talents and visions.”

Organized by the Paulson Ecology of Place Initiative and the English department, Community Day of Poetry concludes the celebration of National Poetry Month at Wellesley, an initiative designed in collaboration with Mass Poetry. In addition to the Next Stop exhibition, activities today will include pop-up poetry readings, labyrinth walks, an open house at the Book Arts Lab, a Davis Museum tour, and a performance by Wellesley Out Loud, which begins at 4:45 p.m. in Pendleton Atrium. Please view the full schedule for locations and times. All events are free and open to the public.

Photo: Six members of ARTS 255: Dynamic Interface Design stand before their project on display during Wellesley’s Community Day of Poetry in celebration of National Poetry Month. L to R: Tiffany Sharma ’20, Kayli Balin ’20, Vicky Wang ’20, Cynthia Chen ’19, Seiyeon Park ’21, and April Chu ’21

With reporting by Christine Roberts ’19