The UCSB Arts Department is taking a week-long “interlude” this week by opting out of classes to immerse themselves in creative alternatives.
The driving force behind the hiatus is Laurel Beckman, professor of art, who says the event is intended to create a “communal environment” within the art department. Alaia/Paipo surfboard making, silk scarf dyeing and a trip to the Getty Center Museum in L.A. are among the activities planned this week to replace the regular humdrum of university life.
Beckman said the idea for the interlude came together quickly because of cooperation from faculty and students. Students are “agents of their own interests,” Beckman said, explaining that they will be leading several of the week’s activities.
“One of the really important parts of the interlude is that everybody’s participating: students, staff, faculty, grad students, undergrads, everybody,” Beckman said. “Other than classes and working by yourself in the studio, we don’t have a lot of community activities, and I wanted to do [an interlude] so people could choose … what they participated in.”
Kip Fulbeck, professor of art, said recently that students had not been producing with the same “drive and fervor” that he is used to, and the arts faculty had also become complacent.
“We were becoming stagnant and needed to shake things up,” Fulbeck said in an email. “I’m hoping to re-ignite our creative drives, excitement, passion for making art and experiencing life. You learn more outside the classroom than in it.”
Graduate students found out about the interlude late last quarter and were highly encouraged to direct activities or to create ideas for alternative classes.
Graduate student Rose Briccetti, who has organized a butterfly pinning event, said the interlude will be an interesting outlet for creativity.
“[The interlude] seemed like a fun kind of unique way to get people thinking about art outside the confines of just painting or printmaking or sculpture or the materials and ways of making we kind of generally adhere to,” Briccetti said.
According to graduate student Emily Baker, the arts department is lacking a critical element of preparation for a career in arts: a tight-knit community. Baker said she pushes students to go to art events every quarter so they can talk about their work and have contacts to “bounce ideas off of.”
“As an artist, networking is my work. It’s my job, you know? Like the whole ‘wine and cheese’ art event thing, that’s work,” Baker said. “And I did feel that lack of community in the arts department … so I think this will help perpetuate that community a little bit more.”
Students and professors alike are unsure at the moment whether they will carry the interlude into the future, but at least a few, like Briccetti, are very interested in seeing it continue as a department tradition. Taking a risk is difficult in huge institutions, Briccetti said, commenting that university rules and protocols can limit activities that are “strange and different and out of the box.”
“I don’t think you can have innovation, or you know, society can’t move forward if people aren’t willing to just try something new,” Briccetti said. “So I hope that this — regardless of how it all shakes out — is something that will inspire other departments and our department to shake things up, to try new things, to not get stuck in old ways of doing things.”