Section: Opinion

The case for valuing originality of student artists

Our campus is filled with such a wide range of artists that it doesn’t make sense how little attention they receive, especially from other artists across disciplines. It is time we trade in our obsession with loving what was already given a five-star rating.Instead, we should recognize that Kenyon artists really want the same thing: someone to appreciate our work.

On April 25, Amanda Goodman ’18 released her EP, Please Don’t Ghost Me, on Bandcamp. After listening to the 16-minute album on repeat all day, I was reminded of my appreciation for honest lyrics and effortless vocals. The Soccer Mommy concert at the Horn Gallery later that night was like transitioning from dark roast coffee to decaf.

The concert was as forgettable as Seeb and Whitney at Summer Sendoff later that week. It’s not that these shows lacked the heart and creativity that can be found in other Kenyon student-produced work like Please Don’t Get Scared by Lucky and Shedding Velvet Goes Platinum by Shedding Velvet, both released earlier this year. It just feels like the majority of the people in the crowds at these shows seem to only be there because the performers are famous, but not because the music makes them feel anything at all. Attending Kenyon means we are surrounded, like we may never be again, by smart artists who have yet to  drink  the need-to-make-a-profit poison that has turned so many geniuses into caricatures of themselves.

The audience for the Kenyon Filmmakers Film Festival or for senior thesis plays like Sharing Souls by Kyla Spencer ’18 was thin, but campus screenings for Call Me By Your Name and Capote were filled.

At least some of the seats at these screenings were occupied by people who have already seen them. Why is it that we would rather see a movie we’ve already seen twice than see the hearts of our peers poured into their projects?

Rarely do people have the chance to discover great art, which is why we go to major feature films, because someone else has already decided that they are good and worth seeing. 

We spend money at galleries when the senior studio art show at the Gund Gallery, running April 30 to May 19, has transformed the sleepless nights of art students into every medium imaginable. You don’t have to walk far into Horvitz Hall to see mirror-like drawings of your peers lining the walls or the sculpture of a slanted picnic table with flies speckling the food that only become visible when the distance between the observer and the art is shortened.

As artists and students with tightly packed schedules, we have to choose carefully which art we consume. We fear  wasting time on something that we might not enjoy. It feels safer to know the art has already been critically acclaimed before we give it a chance. This is a reasonable mentality, but its believers will always find themselves last in line. This argument grows incredibly weak when we remember apps like Bandcamp and Soundcloud are free to download.

Why shuffle the “Today’s Top Hits” playlist on Spotify when we could tune in to WKCO and hear what our friends and classmates want so badly for us to hear? Spotify doesn’t offer the personal opinions and anecdotes that college radio does. Let’s fall in love with each other and the mediums through which we translate our souls.

Elizabeth Iduma ’20 is a film major from Silver Spring, Md. You can contact her at iduma1@kenyon.edu.

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