Common Ground: Students, Faculty, and Visiting Artists Embrace New Disciplines in ArtSmooch

by Morgan Albrecht

A dancer performing on stage
What might a hybrid concert/dance recital/art exhibition/poetry reading look like? This was the question that Rachel Vetter Huang, Scripps adjunct professor in music, asked her peers and students as they worked together to create this year’s Family Weekend performance, ArtSmooch.

On February 17, Huang and a group of nearly 30 students, professors, and visiting artists from across the 5Cs debuted a collaborative performance that was nearly a year in the making. The first of its kind at The Claremont Colleges, ArtSmooch was a uniquely staged mix of original poetry, music, dance, and visual art, with each medium complementing the others in striking ways.

ArtSmooch consisted of four separate works—two entirely student created, one by four faculty members, and a finale that combined the efforts of guest artists, a faculty choreographer, and student performers.

According to Huang, it’s rare to find both undergraduates and faculty performing as creative equals on the same stage. “It says something that faculty here feel it perfectly appropriate to debut their own work on a stage where student work is also being debuted—it reflects a great trust in the students,” she says.

The writers, dancers, musicians, and visual artists used poetry they wrote for the occasion to inform related works. For Elena Dypiangco ’19, a poet and videographer, getting involved in ArtSmooch was an adventure. “After I wrote my poem,” she says, “I worked with composer Kathryn Chan (HMC ’21) to relay how I thought the text might be reimagined as sound.”

Madeline Sy ’18, a poet who also created a soundscape for her text, found the collaboration with peers to be enriching and refreshing. “The creative process was enhanced and informed by the different approaches that each student artist brought to the work,” she says.

Huang was excited to see how ArtSmooch brought the diverse interests and passions of students at The Claremont Colleges together, noting that many of the participants were not art or music majors. “I am so happy to be teaching at a liberal arts college for exactly this reason,” she says. “It’s moving to work with people with so much curiosity and talent.”


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