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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

First-years experience the Rose in style

Published: October 18, 2013
Section: Arts, Etc.

Free food and Andy Warhol always make a good combination. On Oct. 15, the Rose Art Museum invited first-years to come to the “Freshman Night At the Rose.” The event was hosted by the Student Committee for the Rose Art Museum (SCRAM), a student group that strives to increase student relations with the museum.

“Our goal was to get freshmen into the Rose and to get them excited about art, visual thinking and the museum,” explained SCRAM member Christa Caggiano ’17. “Basically, we wanted people to come for the free food and to stay for the amazing art.”

Visitors were greeted by a friendly and well-dressed group of SCRAM members that directed guests to a long table generously covered with cookies, cheesecake, brownies and other desserts.

After the cocktail hour was over, visitors were free either to explore the museum on their own or join a SCRAM-led tour. Being the explorer that I am, I decided to wander off into a miniature movie theater, where I sat down on a seat and watched “Omer Fast: 5000 Feet is the Best,” a short film directed by Omer Fast, an Israeli contemporary video artist. “5000 Feet” explores the use of drones in the U.S. military surveillance and warfare—without an actual narrator. What viewers are shown instead are conversations between a journalist and a veteran, interviews with drone pilots and overhead shots of towns.

The film, which is 30 minutes long, has no clear beginning or end. It does not matter what time you walk into the screening room: You will understand the film as soon as you begin to watch it. At first, the film seems simple, perhaps even a little boring. However, the eerie serenity of some parts of the film, like when the nameless main character stands in a dark and deserted hallway smoking a cigarette, makes it bewildering to follow, but it also makes viewers reflect on what they are seeing and hearing. The film is unlike the movies watched in typical movie theaters; it makes you think for yourself and determine your own interpretation and analysis of what is being shown to you.

A half hour after entering the film room, I left to look at the other exhibits on display at the Rose, only to join a tour group instead. The tour, whose main goal was not only to expose us to art but also to guide us in a technique of art analysis called Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS). My tour guide, Haley Coopersmith ’15, led us around the Andy Warhol exhibit, where we stopped in front of “Uncle Sam (from Myths portfolio),” a serigraph and screenprint piece of Uncle Sam, the symbolic figure of American patriotism. Using VTS, the group analyzed “Uncle Sam” by discussing artistic techniques and American politics. The discussion was led by Coopersmith, who asked us questions about the meaning of the Warhol piece.

At around 8 that night, the Freshman Night was called to an end. I was pleasantly surprised by the tour. Usually, my museum trips consist of quietly observing works of art by myself. My night at the Rose was the first time I had been exposed to VTS, and I am extremely glad that I decided to go on a tour instead of just wandering around.

The Rose is an excellent source of art, and I would highly recommend going at least once in your years at Brandeis. I hope that SCRAM organizes more student events to increase students’ awareness of the Rose and art in general because this night was truly exciting and intellectually-stimulating.