Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Dartmouth: Hop Garage exhibit will showcase artwork inspired by bodies

Shared from The Dartmouth:
Tomorrow evening, BARE, “an open gallery art show with nothing to hide,” will open, featuring sculptures, videos and works of other artistic media that explore different aspects of the human body.

A major in studio art, organizer Callista Womick ’13 said her inspiration for the exhibit came from a project that she had worked on as a senior in a sculpture class.

“I made an iron cast of my own vagina, and it was a really affirming experience,” she said. “After that, I reached out to a number of different groups on campus about how maybe I could create an opportunity for other people to explore their own bodies in their own or similar ways.”

Womick had previously worked with the Center for Gender and Student Engagement, which is sponsoring the exhibit, to develop a pregnancy support program for undergraduate students. In addition to offering her advice and administrative assistance for the BARE project, the center hosted a series of “making sessions” at its Choate Road offices last week, giving visitors the space, time and materials, including plaster for body casts, necessary to create work for the exhibit.

Between the sessions and Womick’s calls for art over Facebook and over email, she said she has received “a couple dozen” submissions, spanning different media.

“We have a sound piece, a video of a performance, photo, painting, sculpture,” she said. “It’s a really eclectic show.”

Although making work for the exhibit required no prior artistic experience, many who have contributed identify as artists. Samantha Freese, a private school teacher from Canaan who plans to become a full-time artist, said she will display a work called “Dressed to Form,” a portrait of a woman measuring her waist in a mirror, her body “obstructed from the viewer by a dress form.”

Often turning to the human form to explore either issues she struggles with or those faced by the world at large, Freese said that this piece “shows the struggle that nearly every woman faces to fit into what society has deemed the perfect body.”

“When I created this piece, I was feeling a little insecure — earlier in the day I was getting dressed, and none of my clothes fit me the way I wanted them to,” she said.

That day, Freese decided to face her insecurities by eschewing clothing altogether. She said she realized that her inhibitions would likely strike a chord with many women.

Ruth Cserr ’88, a landscape artist, also drew on themes relating to the female body. Taking four separate studies of a single photograph and mounting them on handmade paper, she created “Bare Knuckle Studies May 2014,” a piece that she said considers the parts of a woman’s flesh that are conventionally forbidden from public view.

“I was thinking about things like how nipples are always X-rated on women, and yet they can go out in public on men, and I was also thinking very much about how women’s bodies are so completely objectified — often, not always — but then they are policed,” she said. “So we say, ‘Oh, this nude body is so sexy and sensual, but you can’t show it.’”

What Cserr did, then, was take multiple images of the same female torso and combine them to create a pattern. The result, she said, took on a decorative quality, reminding her of a William Morris print.

“I was interested in the body as an ornament, and just playing with it and putting something out there that you weren’t supposed to put out there,” Cserr said. “This pattern of body bits becomes itself a different kind of ornament.”

Ezra Teboul, a student in Dartmouth’s digital musics program, created a piece from the noise that Pop Rocks make in people’s mouths.

In his art, he said, he works off of common concepts and methods.

“Starting with a term as ubiquitous as ‘pop rock,’ I immediately thought it would be interesting and fun to get a few people to use the candy as an instrument,” he said.

Ultimately, Womick said she hopes the exhibit fosters compelling conversation.

“I think we have a diversity of work, and some are quite provocative, so I hope that people who visit the show will come away asking questions of themselves and of one another,” Womick said. “It wouldn’t be a good show if that didn’t happen.”

Submissions will be accepted until the Hop Garage runs out of room, Womick said. The show will be on display until June 9.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Interview with Georgi Klissurski '14

Excerpt from my March 24 interview with Georgi Klissurski '14:
Callista Womick: We already touched on this a little bit, but have there been any times when you didn’t feel like you fit in here?
Georgi Klissurski: Well, definitely at the end of my freshman fall. Yeah, I just felt a little bit estranged from some people on my floor, and—yeah, perhaps not that I didn’t fit but that I didn’t belong.
In terms of not fitting in, I was a little bit anxious coming in, just—I was wondering how people would react to my accent and how that might turn out in terms of friends and girls or just socially, but I think I was a little bit self-conscious about it the first couple terms, maybe the entire freshman year, but for the most part, people were very nice, and it was really never a big deal. And I don’t think, like, people shied away from me or anything because of my accent.
I think—yeah, maybe freshman year or even the beginning of sophomore year, I had a couple of instances when, like, I would be talking to girls in louder spaces, and, like, they couldn’t understand what I was saying, and they would, like, kind of like, “Uh...” and go somewhere else, and I was, like, Ugh! Great, you know. But that went away, I think.
And honestly—again, it’s one of those things where I have learned to live with it. I think it’s totally fine. I know that people recognize it right away and hear it, but when I don’t
feel self-conscious about it and I still feel confident in the way I speak and the ideas I express, I think that that makes people comfortable and willing to engage with me.
I think it’s a neat little experiment because—you know, that’s very benign. You have an accent. That’s kind of like one of my differences and one of the ways in which I’m different. But I think I still manage to, for the most part, be confident and appear confident, and people all of a sudden don’t care about my accent.
I think people who are different in other ways—racially or backgrounds, socioeconomically, whatever it may be—sometimes—and I know it’s hard, and I have no idea what they’re going through, but sometimes they feel self-conscious about it. And of course. Maybe it’s natural. I mean, they’re having hard times. They have grown up in very difficult ways, and coming to this seemingly perfect environment, they might feel intimidated. But I do believe that if you believe in yourself and you’re confident regardless of your backgrounds and maybe things that socially are accepted as different and whatever, you can thrive here.

Dartmouth Community and Dartmouth’s World is an ongoing oral history project that launched in 2012. The project’s goal is to document the changing nature of the Dartmouth community in the second half of the twentieth century with an emphasis on the concept of the insider and outsider and how those roles and perceptions change for various constituencies over time. Narrators will include members of the Dartmouth community from 1945 to the present, representing a broad spectrum of voices and perspectives.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Edible Book Festival: Booklava

Shared from Dartmouth Spoon:
Berry Main Street was filled with delicious (and some questionable) treats Monday evening as the Dartmouth College Library participated in the International Edible Book Festival for the first time in Dartmouth’s history. Also known as Edible Book Day, the festival has been celebrated since 2000 all over the world. Despite being first-timers, Dartmouth’s participants rose to the challenge, turning out a large variety of punny, mouthwatering culinary artwork based on famous novels.

Walking down a set-up of fold-out tables, students and faculty alike ooh-ed, ahh-ed and lol-ed at Robert Frosting’s “The Rocky Road Not Taken” (accompanied by an equally creative poem); a terrifying, bloody “Killer Angel Food Cake” based on Michael Shaara’s historical novel Killer Angels, which depicted a marzipan hand and knife projecting out of the center of a scrumptious-looking angel food cake; and, finally, “Booklava,” a chocolate-bound baklava, which won the title of Most Creative for paying homage to the festival’s inspiration: the book.
Photo by Katelyn Jones; Booklava by Callista Womick

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


It snowed today. It actually snowed today.

© Callista Womick 2014

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Modeling for Juliette Belmonte

I spent several weeks this spring modeling for a small group of local artists at the studio of painter Juliette Belmonte. Here's Juliette's piece:


I connected with Juliette through the Upper Valley listeserv, which is terrific for connecting with all kinds of local people about all kinds of things. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Dartmouth Wants to Make It Clear They're Taking Sexual Assault Seriously

In a recent press release sent to Jezebel, Dartmouth characterizes sexual assault as "high-risk behavior" alongside drinking and hazing. Alright then.

Friday, February 28, 2014

On b@b, again

Post #3820980: B@B has been used as a primary means by people to harass, threaten, mock, and demean students and organizations at this school anonymously. I seriously want the fans of this site to defend b@b in light of all the shit this site has caused for the school. Feb 8, 2014 @ 6:22pm”


I began using BoredatBaker at 11:46am on September 23, 2010. That’s the timestamp of my first post, anyway. Two years later, my senior seminar work was digital performance art on B@B. The next year, as a Dean’s Office Student Consultant, I used the site to advise students and refer them to campus resources. Throughout, B@B has allowed me to express myself anonymously.

The site itself is a free service provided for anyone with an @Dartmouth.edu address, funded out-of-pocket by its owner and administrator “Jae Daemon.” In a recent message to the community, Jae wrote, “I am providing this place for you as a safe haven where you can talk about anything and everything, honestly, without fear of judgment.”

Bored@Baker provides a valuable service to our community by allowing people across all social groups and backgrounds to come together on relatively equal footing. With anonymity, age, sex, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, and the myriad other visual cues we use on a daily basis to categorize people and decide how much to respect them are stripped away.  We are able to experience thoughts and opinions perhaps unrepresented within our own friend groups shared by people we otherwise may have never met.

Anonymity also allows us the freedom to experiment with aspects of our identities. It allows us to seek advice about tough issues we may not want to discuss in person—sexual violence, mental health, eating disorders, drug addiction, academic trouble, parental conflicts, and money problems. I’ve seen all these and many more in my time on the site, and the community has consistently proven itself a tremendous source of support.

That said, there are those who abuse the service. People can be...horrible. I don't have to enumerate those things. We all know. Probably a good many of us have been targets, too.

For those reasons, there are those who have called upon the College to take action against the site. I, too, am sometimes overwhelmingly disgusted with the depths of human depravity that B@B shows us in our peers, but it is important to remember that the abuses of a minority do not represent the standards of the B@B community and are in direct opposition to the goals of the site. 

It is also worth noting that on the Global Board—a B@ page accessible to anyone with a .edu e-mail address—users from schools with their own B@ pages frequently comment on the uniquely abusive nature of Bored@Baker. Regarding the recent post targeting a first year student, a user from Carleton remarked,I can't imagine something like that happening on our board.” The absence of the problems for which our board often finds itself in the spotlight from other schools’ boards suggests that B@B is showing us something particular to our community.

There is currently a team of 12 student moderators who work tirelessly to remove posts that violate the Terms of Service. Neither Bored@Baker nor the vast majority of its users want to be associated with the kind of abuse that bigots and bullies sometimes post. That's just not what Bored@Baker is about.

Unfortunately, there will probably always be people who will violate the standards set forth by the site and the community at large, but denouncing Bored@Baker for the actions of those individuals disregards the tremendous amount of thought, time, and effort that has gone into building and continually improving the site and threatens to take away from the majority something that is a source of support, enjoyment, and community, simply because a few people will abuse the system.

For the site's part, there needs to be a faster and more forceful way to address some of the problems that arise. We are well aware of this and continually discussing our options. Not too long ago, the threshold for removing posts was lowered so that moderators can remove posts more quickly. It's an improvement, and not the last that we hope to see in the moderation system.

For the parts of students, staff, and faculty who may be concerned about the Bored@Baker atmosphere, I would encourage you to look at it for yourselves. Take a look at the Zeitgeist. Read the top posts from today, this week, all time. Look at how the Bored@Baker community—our community—responds to abuse. Perhaps consider making a few posts yourself to add to the positive and supportive atmosphere that the majority of us try to foster. The more voices like that, the more irrelevant those that espouse hatred and violence. The abuse that happens shows us that there are individuals among us all too willing to hurt others; far more important is how we as a community respond.