Hope: The 2017-2018 LaGuardia Mellon Humanities Scholars Showcase
On May 21, 2018, the LaGuardia Mellon Humanities Scholars took audiences through a curated exhibition of their student-designed projects around the year’s theme of “Hope”.
Showcases are intended not only to reflect the students’ learning over the past year, as they developed their projects with the help of peers and mentors, but to prompt the audience to reflect on their own understanding and assumptions about the students’ diverse fields of study.
Over the course of a few hours, the Scholars lead participants in a carefully orchestrated tour of their projects, which span a number of disciplines—from theatre, to fine arts, to media studies, to literature—but which all similarly employed humanistic modes of inquiry to pursue vital, exciting, and original research questions.
Walking Around: A Musical Theatre Exploration of Identity, Feminism, and Xenophobia
Book and Lyrics by Ambar Castillo
Music by Rinchen Llama
Recent media attention to gender-based harassment/discrimination and incendiary anti-immigrant rhetoric have highlighted major societal issues. In this 20-minute excerpt of an autobiographical musical theatre exploration of such problems, a Dominican-American young woman spends the summer in Santo Domingo working on a documentary, seeking female empowerment within the marianismo paradigm in a Catholic machista society. One evening, while looking for pizza toppings in a neighboring barrio, chaos ensues. Amid the chaos, she learns how far she will go to fight for her freedom to walk around as a gringa and woman in her parents’ homeland. Central to this fight is a question posed by Pablo Neruda’s poem “Walking Around”: what does it mean to tire of being a man–or, more so, a woman–in an irrational world? And how do our experiences shape the identities we create in a society that polices phenomena like cultural appropriation and Latinidad?
Capturing Social Injustice
By Luisa Madrid
Injustice has plagued mankind for centuries. But a weapon in the battle to combat it came in the form of a device that can freeze time. As the camera became a fundamental instrument in documenting history, it eventually altered the course of it, and helped produce social change. This project reenacts key events that became turning points in American history and established radical change through the help of photography.
A Life of Significance
By Dayana Sadova
Aristotle believed that there is always a purpose/reason for everything that happens. This statement was the main reason for my project to happen, as the realization of the meaning behind philosopher’s words completely changed my way of thinking. The aim of my film is to show the audience that every single thing that happens is significant – it’s designed to either shape us or teach us something. I hope that my project will remind people that we are all here on purpose and strive towards one ultimate goal and every single action we commit, every single decision we make is crucial for what’s next. In my project, I hope to achieve both: explore the topic and engage the audience in the exciting visual experience.
Preparing Yourself to Act: Female Archetypes in Theatre
By Amina Cunningham
When an actress searches for the roles she would like one day to play, she will not find a wide variety. It seems the media keeps placing women in these bubbles and archetypes. She can be one of four people. This affects women outside of the theatre life, too. It creates a mindset that they can be only these and limits them. It divides women instead of promoting love. I wish to explore how one woman can be all those archetypes and none at the same time. That we must rely on our fellow women instead of judging them. And I’m going to do it all during a twenty minute train delay.
By Ryan Cooper
What does hope look like? Hope can take many forms. It is mostly associated with finding the light in darkness. Hope is an idea of projecting a positive outlook at the worst of times. In “Allegorical Exploration”, three painted representations of dark and static scenarios all depict a sense of hope for the subjects and objects involved. The cave scene, inspired by Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”, depicts the most basic form of humans with hope. Three subjects are trapped in a well and have no contact to the outside world and can only see the sky pouring in. Inside the house, a family placed in the middle of nowhere can only stay connected with their world by using devices since their home has no windows or doors to physically experience the greater reality beyond. Above our atmosphere, satellites orbit the Earth as they observe and connect those on the ground while simultaneously searching to the furthest extent of the universe to understand who we are and what our true reality is. All three stages are connected yet completely autonomous with each other. It is up to the viewer to see what they choose to see. However, we must acknowledge that we do not know what lies beyond our own limitations and that is where we may find hope to be able to do great things in life.
The Plate is Political
By Telijah Patterson
“What’s on my plate?” When did you last ask yourself this question? It’s not unusual to eat fusion foods like a paratha taco, ramen burger, or curry fries, but beyond the chef’s search for new and exciting tastes, what is the story behind the crossing of these seemingly unrelated cultures. It has been said that the story of our food is a window into our humanity and this projects seeks to look beyond the superficiality of “feeling cultured” by indulging exotic foods and encourages critical thinking around the complex stories of people and cultures to whom they belong through the lense of politics and the arts. You will have the opportunity to talk about food eaten in four countries the U.S. is currently in conflict with and understand the politics that lead to their creation! Participants will leave with a recipe card and are encouraged to continue their dialogue here.
Bringing Perspective to War
By Brandon Francis
First-person shooter games top the charts in video game sales each year. Yet, having known both World War I and World War II veterans, the experience of playing these games is not that reminiscent of the experience of war. Some games allow you to select your character and the characters’ national affiliation, so you can see the scenario from different perspectives. I wanted to go one step further. This new video game concept forces players to literally take the perspective of the person who you just shot. My hope is that this game mechanic may be able to raise awareness and build empathy among game players.
By Shakierra Henderson
If you walk down Broadway between 25th and 26th Avenue, you will find Larry. Larry has lived on the streets longer than the restaurant establishment that is behind him has been open. I first saw Larry when I was employed by that same restaurant, it was the middle of September, 2016 and the New York weather was outright cold. On the surface, Larry had on a black heavy leather jacket, a black skully, sweatpants and hard-toe boots. Not to mention the layers upon layers Larry had on underneath those articles. Spring forward to the summertime and as I headed into work wearing my short sleeves and shorts, Larry has on the same clothes as he did before. Unfortunately, Larry’s situation is not uncommon. Many people (statistics if I can find) in New York City are homeless and don’t have the luxury of switching up their wardrobe as the seasons change. This project will explore the ways versatile clothing can help people who suffer from homelessness.
By Giselle Mendoza
Ableism: Discrimination in favor of able-bodied people.
In life we often don’t believe what we cannot see, this has been a constant struggle for many living with invisible disabilities. Those living with invisible disabilities are often ostracized to the point that it begins to affect their mental health. We can start by un-learning those ideologies we were taught of what makes a valuable human being. By acknowledging our own privileges we challenge ourselves to get to the bottom of that discomfort and find out if it has to do with how we think or what we perceive disabled people to be.
The Complexity of Sexual Harassment in the U.S. and India
By Sandep Kaur
Sexual Harassment is a subject often hidden and isn’t talked about to the general public nor the environment its happening in. Until recently we have seen the media publicize such scandals happening among the big screen actors to even politicians the people of high power. The questions that arise are people afraid to come out because of losing their job or fear of judgment by their superior. Ultimately this is what is happening all around the world not just the cases we hear about. My project will address the issue of sexual harassment in India and the United States as well talk about what’s being done to resolve the situation. Lastly leave the audience with tips and advice to help someone and raise awareness.
Arts and Music Add Value to Business and Beyond
By Paula Moreno
Many people are studying subjects related on business such as marketing, Accounting, Administration, and Management. We can see that here at LaGuardia community college 19% of students are enrolled in Business Majors while 8% of students are enrolled in humanities. People are putting on the side classes like art or music without thinking how this humanities subjects help and influence our lives professionally and academically. I know students can chose classes they want as an elective. However, they have a pathway for their major that they should follow. This project wants to engage students to take art and music classes because it adds value to their professional lives. In addition, it helps to improve different skills such as creative thinking and teamwork.
About the Program
The LaGuardia Mellon Humanities Scholars program enriches LaGuardia students’ understanding of the Humanities, and helps them build academic and career pathways in the Humanities. Through biweekly meetings and additional humanities enrichment activities, the Humanities Scholars are exposed to modes of critical and creative thinking, various historical and cultural perspectives, and aesthetic appreciation. They will also further develop their skills in research, oral and written communication, collaboration, project management, and digital literacy.
Each LaGuardia Mellon Humanities Scholar designs and creates a year-long project that is meaningful for the individual student, their scholarship, their career aspirations, and the wider community. With the student at the center, this program supports Scholars – through their program, their major courses, and humanities enrichment activities throughout New York City – to succeed to towards graduation and their future careers. Along the way, they are advised by peers (vice-versa), graduate fellows, and faculty or professional mentors to engage in a project that will advance their interests, progress to degree, and their career goals. This project-based work culminates in a student-curated exhibition of their projects around the year’s theme.
The LaGuardia Mellon Humanities Scholars program and the CUNY Humanities Alliance are generously supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to broaden and strengthen interest in the Humanities among LaGuardia community college students, and to help those students build academic and career pathways in the Humanities. The Scholars program is hosted by LaGuardia Community College. The LaGuardia Center for Teaching and Learning provides administrative support necessary for our work with the Scholars.