November 30, 2011- Issue 11 A&E

Students get A+ for Plagiarize This!

Copy Editor

The opening night of “Plagiarize This!” was not your typical opening night of an art show. One artist, Shawn McPeek, was still in the process of creating his work. Ryleyanne Vaughn had trash bags filled with crumpled up pieces of paper next to her presentation. And Danielle Cinderella’s paintings weren’t hung; the tools she used were still sitting on top of her work. Is this unprofessional behavior for three aspiring artists? Not at all. Actually, it has all been planned out for months.

Shawn McPeek, majoring in Studio Art with an emphasis in Dada, did self-portraits of the people who came to the opening. Students, professors and parents could step into Shawn’s “workspace,” which was the coat rack next to the gallery that he claimed as his own. He would pick a random colored pencil and start drawing—without looking down at the paper. The “models” could then hang up their portrait anywhere in the coat closet. He drew a total of 39 blind portraits, including the faces of Dr. Rosemary Allen, his fiancée Abigail Cownie and music professor Dr. Heather Hunnicutt. On Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:45 p.m. to 3 p.m., McPeek will be sitting in his closet, and you can either have a portrait done or he will sell you your portrait for anything you have to offer (money, stick of gum, shoe, etc.). This offer will only last until Dec. 8. McPeek has gotten quite a few laughs (and a few jokes involving the closet) but it is all in good fun. In the thesis statement for his presentation, he said, “Overall I hope the viewer walks away from my show happy.”

“Forgiving is one of the hardest things to do as a human being, but it is also the most rewarding,” Ryleyanne Vaughn stated in the opening of her thesis statement. Her presentation looked simple from far off, but she used many mediums to get her idea of forgiveness across. It included true stories from three people who dealt with forgiveness, along with three posters with their silhouettes. She came up with a logo, a website and souvenirs that observers could take home. These consisted of beautifully made small booklets with stories inside and a journal. These are still available to take if you stop by and check out her presentation. She also had a trash bag beneath each poster with thrown away pieces of paper, the writing on the paper expressing feelings and thoughts that the person had “thrown away” in order to forgive someone and move on.

Danielle Cinderella is an example of a perfectionist who learned to let go. Inspired by the works of Sam Francis and Jackson Pollack, she set out to “plagiarize” them in a sense, starting out with the same idea and finding her own process. Using things like eye droppers to paint on boxes and other material, the paintings she used turned out to be one of a kind. They were all beautiful; I could look at them all day and never get tired of it. As Danielle said in her artist statement, she “wanted to challenge people’s understanding of and attitudes towards art…” Many may say that they could do the same thing just as easily, and Cinderella encourages you to try it, saying that it was stress-relieving and fun.

For these three seniors, the show was also a test. They either passed or failed, which would decide if they passed the class or not. After 30 minutes of defending their work in front of art professors, all three of them passed. Dr. Decker, the professor of the class, is very proud of them. “They did a really good job,” she said. Even with last minute complications, like the fire alarm going off during Cinderella’s dissertation. She encourages students to come and see the show if they haven’t already. It will be at the gallery in the library until Dec. 8. After that the art gallery will need their coat rack back.

“Arthur Christmas” leaves student hankering for Dec. 25

Staff Writer

Having just finished the latest film in what had evolved into a two week marathon of the strangest, most experimental, oftentimes foreign and brutal (both on the senses and the emotions) films I had seen in a long time, I found myself sitting in my living room, devoid of the usual merriness and joviality that one feels during the holidays (I didn’t even want more turkey for Christ’s sake). Why had I done this to myself? I had no idea. But I decided I needed a pick-me-up. No more “Enter the Void” or “A Serbian Film” (Don’t look them up; it’ll just make you sad). I needed some Christmas cheer!

After much deliberating (Yes, it takes Liz and I twelve years to decide which kids’ movie to watch), we decided on “Arthur Christmas”. It couldn’t be that bad, right? It had Christmas right in the name! How could we go wrong? Now, for those of you who’ve read my reviews before, this is the point where you expect me to say, “Here! Here’s how you could go wrong!” Thankfully, I can’t do that. As it turns out, “Arthur Christmas” not only pulled me out of the disturbing film induced haze I had been in, it did so in a charming and incredibly unexpected  way that has left me hankering for Dec. 25 ever since.

Coming down our “chimbleys,” the newest production from British animation studio Aardman Animations (“Chicken Run,” “Wallace and Gromit”), co-written and directed by Sarah Smith, “Arthur Christmas” tells the story of Santa’s clumsy but endearing son Arthur as he journeys from the North Pole and across the globe to deliver one last present, a bike, to a little girl named Gwen after it was accidentally left out of Santa’s deliveries. Now I know this description may have you wanting to flip away to see what the Back Page has to say about the holidays (Or to see what it’s raging about, whichever it turns out to be), but stick with me for just a moment. While it sounds like a carbon copy Christmas movie that was just made to force unwilling parents to fork over 20 dollars to essentially babysit their children in a dark room for an hour and a half, that is far from the case (though you may have to suffer a few of these kids if you do go to see this film).

While the film does manage to include all the standard Christmas myths and lore, it does so in a way that reinvents the paradigm of the holiday. By turning the idea of Santa into a hereditary monarchy and pitting new, high-tech delivery systems and operations (piloted by Santa’s epitome of an “alpha son,” Steve) against the reindeer-pulled sleigh system of old (represented by Santa’s father, Grandsanta and eventually Arthur himself), the film not only tells a heartwarming story of a merry Christmas, it also provides a sharp, savvy, and hilarious picture of how a family interacts with and relates to one another. In accomplishing this, the film is able to satisfy its younger audience while still entertaining the older crowd; owing in large part to its amazing cast of British actors.

While the animation is outstanding and on par with any recent work of Pixar or DreamWorks (Yes, I said it!), the voice acting and brilliantly written script are where the film truly shines. From James McAvoy’s (“X-Men: First Class, Atonement”) loveable and nerdy Arthur to Hugh Laurie’s (“House” and “Black Adder”) militarily minded Steve, the characters are as crisp and well crafted as any I’ve seen in quite some time. The star of the movie, however, is Bill Nighy’s (“Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Love Actually”) crotchety Grandsanta, who, with his constant inappropriate remarks and actions (topics including women, Saigon, and wars), had me Ho- Ho-Ho-ing anytime he opened his mouth.

Really, all I can say is that if you’re in need of some serious holiday cheer, do yourself a favor and see “Arthur Christmas”. While Grandsanta should be enough to make you want to see it, it will also warm your heart and entertain both the kid and the grown-up in you. It’s truly a lovely film and I wouldn’t be surprised if it soon becomes a new holiday staple. Christmas has come early this year. 4 and a half out of 5 stars.


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