Annual SHOUT week commences with art crawl

Monday kicked off the Pugh Community Board’s annual SHOUT (Speaking, Hearing, Opening Up Together) week. The theme of SHOUT week this year is Art as Politic. According to the announcement on ColbyNow, “Art has the ability to connect, move, and empower people to imagine, see, and understand the world in different ways. In other words, art is transformational. Art as politic allows us to break boundaries and connect the aesthetic to the personal. Art has the capacity to change cultures, societies, people. How is the personal political? How does our art allow us to imagine, empower, and [de]-construct new politics?”

SHOUT week began with a keynote from Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, a black visual artist from Oklahoma. She uses art to address the oppression that many marginalized people experience daily. Stop Telling Women to Smile, Fazlalizadeh’s street art series, inspired a later SHOUT week event in which students created posters that expressed their experiences and ideas relating to sexism and other related oppressions. 

The SHOUT week Art Crawl followed Fazlalizadeh’s keynote presentation. Stretching across campus, the school-wide exhibition featured student art in a multitude of mediums, all of which had to do with the Colby community’s expressions of their identities, beliefs, and politics, and the intersections between them. Student works of visual art, including painting and photography, were on display in Cotter Union. There were also many student-made poems on display, which discussed a wide range of issues including pride, strength, and social and environmental justice, among others.

Community painting in Cotter union provided a space in which students could get together and create art in real time, and talk with one another about their own experiences at Colby. Here, the barrier between the consumption and creation of art was broken.

Many works of art were related to student experiences at Colby. As an overwhelmingly white small liberal arts college, Colby grapples with the same issues that many similar schools do. In Cotter Union, a series of interviews with students of color at Colby was screened. These students talked about their experiences as people of color on campus, and in the Waterville community. Additionally, due to the recent emergence of COVID-19 in China, many international students and American students of asian descent have experienced discrimination due to their race. The voices expressed in the film and the public sentiment show that Colby, like the rest of the world, is not without its intolerance-related issues. 

Importantly, this year’s SHOUT week signifies the unifying and expressive powers of art, and the impact art can have on tangible issues in the world, like injustice and oppression. Art will continue to play an important role in Colby’s continued striving towards becoming a more welcoming place to people of all ethnicities, nationalities, sexualities, genders, and beliefs.