Art show highlights upcoming musical “Hair”

Some featured work at the art show.

Jessica Callahan

Some featured work at the art show.

Jessica Callahan, Staff Writer


The poster that was hung around campus advertising the art show (it reads "Earth without art is just 'Eh'")
The poster that was hung around campus advertising the art show (it reads “Earth without art is just ‘Eh'”)

The annual AIC art show held on Tuesday, April 20 was full of new, exciting twists this year, with artwork and photos shown from the Visual and Digital Arts program.

This year’s art show was based on the upcoming AIC Theater Arts musical production “Hair,” which will be presented here just a few days after the art show.

The opening night for “Hair” at the Griswold Theatre is Friday, April 22 at 7 p.m. The musical will also be performed on Saturday, April 23 at 7 p.m., and a 2 p.m. matinee showing will take place on Sunday, April 24.

The production is about a group of people from many different races, young and old, coming together to stand up for what they believe in. It shows the struggles they went through, but also how they pushed through in the end.

Professor John Nordell teaches courses such as ‘Digital Photography’ and ‘Cultivating Creativity’ at AIC. He came up with the idea to tie the art show into the play.

Communications professors Marty Langford and John Nordell at the art show on Tuesday, April 19.
Leon Nguyen
Communications professors Marty Langford and John Nordell at the art show on Tuesday, April 19.

“The Theater Arts Program consistently produces plays that encourage viewers to confront and examine important issues in society and themselves. Students created art that represents concepts from the musical ‘Hair,’” Nordell said. “I wanted students to create art that is more than just beautiful. I know students’ lives are touched by the important social and political issues brought up in ‘Hair,’ so I assigned students to create images that may connect their lives with the visual and performing arts at AIC.”

Some concepts presented in the show were ideas like patriotism, issues of race, American-Indian tribes, questioning authority, flower children, and questioning society, among others. The students then took these concepts and turned them into different types of artwork, based on the assignment of the class to display how they interpreted a concept.

Drahcir Dickson is a student at AIC. She participated in the assignment in the digital photography class, and is playing the part of a tribe member in the production “Hair.” She offered her thoughts on the production itself, and on the concept photo she took.

The Theater department has put a lot of time and effort into preparing for the Hair musical.
The Theater department has put a lot of time and effort into preparing for the Hair musical.

“The big thing we as a tribe fight the hardest is the draft to go to the Vietnam War, mainly because it was a pointless war and killed a lot of young people,” Dickson said of the main scene. “but also one of our own members has been drafted himself and we are trying to help him not have to go.”

The concept she chose for her photography assignment was questioning authority. Her photo is of a student being reprimanded and she has the student asking “what is the point of this?” Or “why are you doing this?”

“It ties back to the main purpose of the play,” Dickson added. “Just because someone has power or can make the rules does not mean that they are always right.”

For my own concept photo, the idea I incorporated in my shot was patriotism, by taking a picture of a fellow student wearing a New England Patriots shirt, because sports are a huge part of our country, and something I think defines America.

Robby Ollari, also a student in the digital photography class, took on this same concept as well. He said about his photo,

This is Robby Ollari's patriotism photo.
This is Robby Ollari’s patriotism photo.

“For my ‘Hair ‘Concept picture I tried to incorporate the flag in the quad at AIC to symbolize patriotism,” Ollari explained. “I’m not the best photographer out there but I got pretty lucky with this shot. The sun rays illuminated the flag and it came out really cool.”

Other photos in the show, from three of Nordell’s courses were based on the theme “Impressions of Home.” This section is also unique because the idea came from The Friends of the Homeless in Springfield, Mass.

The Friends of the Homeless are also sponsoring an art exhibition on the theme of “Impressions of Home.” This exhibition will combine work created by homeless people along with other artists. So as an assignment, students created photos of what they thought their impression of home was, myself included.

Students didn’t just take pictures of their homes, but instead, incorporated items in their homes, people, and objects or places that reminded them of home. Though many students live on campus and could not go to their actual home, many were able to find their own representation of “home” on campus.

Many students even consider aspects of the AIC campus to be their idea of home. These photos show that there are many ideas of home. Feeling “at home” doesn’t necessarily have to be the place you live, but can actually be many other aspects.

“The goal is to find commonalities between all people,” Nordell said. “Whether homeless or not, for example, you may have issues around security.”

"Toxic Hair" concept art by Chanelle Brodeur.
Jessica Callahan
“Toxic Hair” concept art by Chanelle Brodeur.

The art show is a chance for students to not only learn, but also to broadcast their work.

“The Creative Process starts with planning an image, creating it, making mistakes, trying again, and then ends with the final stage, presenting the image,” Nordell explained. “Hence, the show.”

Katrina Mendes, a student whose artwork from the Digital Photography II class was featured, was in attendance on Tuesday night at the show. She was very pleased to have her work highlighted at the show.

“I am really excited to have my work in the art show because I’ve never had work showcased before,” Mendes said.

This year’s art show, with a lot of time and hard work ended up being a great success. It interpreted very unique concepts and ideas and is an amazing representation of AIC, the students, and the faculty. It showed everyone’s dedication and hard work, and what we stand for as a school.

It also served as a great lead-in for the upcoming musical “Hair,” which, again, the Theater Arts program has worked really hard on all semester long. Be sure to check out the show this weekend!