As you walk into the lobby of Short/Denney Hall, you are greeted by brightly colored furniture and wall decor made by current and former residents of the dormitory, which is predominantly populated by students majoring in the arts. Residence coordinator Quinton Lane hosted “Shades of Me,” an event that introduced the diverse group of student artists, performers and writers to one another Sept. 6 in the Short/Denney lobby.
“This is the first time I’ve done this, and I actually did take this idea from another hall that performed this program last year,” Lane said. “I decided to do this because I think it’s very important for people to see the different elements that make up a person.”
The event featured a station with paint and a large paper draped over a table with simple instructions written on it: Cover your hand in the shades of paint that represent who you are.
Students chose colors that represented whether they belonged to different identities such as being religious or spiritual, a part of the LGBTQ community or their supporters or a survivor of an event in their lives.
“We have an incredibly diverse student population here in this building,” Resident Master Carl Olds said. Olds is new to the Short/Denney community this year. “We take marginalized populations to express themselves in art. They often have a society that doesn’t favor their identities and who they are. This becomes an outlet in which these kids find their tribe.”
Though students came and went throughout the lobby, the idea of participating in something that would connect them to others that they may not know convinced some to leave their mark.
“I think it will make everyone aware of who they are and compare things like where they come from, what they identify with, and will make everyone more comfortable,” freshman resident Erin Dortch said, who was passing through the lobby when she saw the display being made and decided to join in. “I most related to the person of color [category].”
In addition to the paint activity, Olds hopes that the students take away just how diverse yet alike the hall and campus can be.
“This is a building of performers, and they want to be out there and exuberant as well as show off who they are. This also [served]as a secondary function of letting us engage and interact with each other,” Olds said.