Honors freshman reading project brings back art option

Baylor Honors freshmen will now have the option of completing an art piece as a reflection for the freshman reading project students are required to complete over the summer. Art from the project sits on display. Photo credit: Clarissa Anderson

By Clarissa Anderson | Reporter

For the first time in at least five years, Baylor’s Honors Program has allowed students to submit an art piece for the Freshman Reading Project. The Freshman Reading Project is required of all freshman students in the Honors Program.

“[It lets] people that have trouble expressing things in words use their creativity and express themselves in an alternative medium,” said Louisburg, Kan. junior Amelia Baumgardner, who led one of the small groups for the project.

Students are required to read a book over the summer and in the past have been given a prompt that they address in an essay. This year, the project allows students the opportunity to submit a reflective art piece with an artist’s statement instead of the usual essay.

The art option provides students the chance to showcase their talents in a way beyond writing on a page and requires students to reflect on what the book means to them.

“You kind of have to dig inside yourself in a way that I don’t think you have to do necessarily when you’re writing an essay,” said Sarah Marcum, Honors Program adviser and coordinator of the Freshman Reading Project.

In addition, many students may be unable to take art classes due to schedule and departmental constraints. The reading project’s art option may appeal to students who wish to creatively express themselves but do not have the outlet to do so.

“Unless you’re a University Scholar, or you’re a minor in art or something, or major in art, you’re not necessarily going to get to take studio art classes because those are often reserved for the majors or the minors,” Marcum said.

The visual pieces students submitted were often profound and detailed or figurative, Marcum said.

“[This student] took photographs of the Waco Suspension Bridge, and she made this really beautiful metaphor with the bridge about ‘The Road to Character’ and how you have to build many bridges because of obstacles you face,” Marcum said while describing one of the art submissions displayed in the Honors College Suite in 203 Morrison Hall.

The last time the Freshman Reading Project allowed more creative expression, students read a book written by an artist and made works of art that were displayed in the lobby of the Martin Museum of Art while the artist had a gallery show in the main section of the museum, Marcum said.

Through the project, students learn the level of analysis expected from them as Honors students, which helps freshman students transition from high school, Baumgardner said.

The 2016 Freshman Reading Project focuses on David Brook’s “The Road to Character,” a book about different character traits, humility, and famous leaders who developed and demonstrated strong character.