AU Press Releases

AU students to present community-based art series in December

More than 20 Alfred University students will lead community-based art initiatives during the month of December as their final requirement for their Drawn to Diversity class.

Students chose topics related to a local, national, and/or international issue and created an art project to engage the community in voicing their opinions about the issue. Once their semester’s end projects are completed, the students will be inducted into the Art Force Five, a group of art activists sponsored by the Drawn to Diversity program.

Dan Napolitano, AU director of student activities, created the Drawn to Diversity program in 2005 as a service-learning project to teach history, inspire artists, cultivate dialogue, and fight ignorance through creative exhibits and programs. Drawn to Diversity’s mission aspires "to build an appreciation for diversity and to champion equality by exploring various media and art forms."

The program has since grown into including a credit-bearing course. Napolitano teaches a two-credit class in which students have formed partnerships with numerous community agencies and businesses including Marvel Comics, MTVu, Wegmans Food Markets, Equality Charter School (Bronx, NY), NYC Comic Con, The National Museum of Play (Rochester), and Catholic Charities of Steuben County.

This fall semester’s end projects scheduled for display in December are divided into gallery exhibits, creation stations located around campus, and off-campus presentations.

Gallery exhibits will be on display in Powell Campus Center at 12:20 p.m. daily between Thursday, Dec. 1 and Friday, Dec. 9. Exhibitions will include senior communications studies major Mariah Evans’s (a Genesee Valley Central School graduate) presentation "Love and Judgment at First Sight," exploring how people can be judged unfairly at first glance, and senior art & design major Sarah Shafer’s (a Wayland-Cohocton Central School graduate) photo exhibit "25 Survivors Amongst Us," which tells the story of cancer in our community.

Also on exhibit will be freshman art & design major Ella Medicus’s photo exhibit "At the Hands of Bullies," exploring the dichotomy of one’s experience with bullying; and senior global studies major Anishka Davis’s gallery show "Recession on the Runway," a fashion canvas of how poverty affects self-worth.

There will also be several creative stations located around campus at various times during early December. On Dec. 1, freshman art & design major Samantha Schem will create a visual memorial for Matthew Sheppard, a gay youth whose hate-crime death led to national outrage.

On Dec. 2, senior biology major Ronja Ogrodnik’s "Live in this Moment" project will place interactive "reflection" stations throughout campus to encourage students to realize the potential in every moment.

Freshman biology major Michael Nacipucha will present an educational board game titled "Non-Violence: The Game" on Monday, Dec. 5 to raise awareness of the power of peaceful resistance.

Junior political science major Erick Selzo’s interactive game booth "Pin the Pump on the Diabetes" in the Powell lobby on Tuesday, Dec. 6 will raise awareness about several diabetics who have control of their disease.

Senior business administration major Janice Cheung will pay tribute to AU’s Chinese students on Thursday, Dec. 8 in the Powell Lobby with her Mahjong-inspired tiles with Alfred symbolism. On Friday, Dec. 9, freshman art & design major Valerie Ling will be creating recycled sculptures from campus trash in the Powell Lobby.

Several Drawn to Diversity students are also leading outreach presentations as their final projects including freshman interdisciplinary art major Lauren Fix, who will connect AU students to the Darfur genocide with "What’s Your Darfur Story?," which assigns students certain identities of people of Darfur and gives them status updates throughout the week, and freshman psychology major Samantha Smith, who will create a lethal injection display titled "Lethal Reflection" on Wednesday, Dec. 7 to mark the anniversary of the first lethal injection.

Napolitano will lead the Dream Gallery Project, which asks local third graders to create artwork that exemplifies their dreams. The gallery exhibit on Wednesday, Jan. 18 will coincide with Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Drawn to Diversity students will be inducted into the Art Force Five on Friday, Dec. 9 in the Knight Club, when each student will recap their projects and be presented with an Art Force Five apron.
Through community-based art and educational presentations, Drawn to Diversity promotes equality, teaches history, inspires artists, builds community and fights ignorance.

Community-based art provides a productive and creative outlet?for community members to express emotion and a diversity of viewpoints. Such projects can be used as a means to heal in the wake of tragedy, celebrate in response to triumph, or just acknowledge those events that shape our lives.

For more information on the Drawn to Diversity program, contact Napolitano at or visit