Why Get a Liberal Arts Degree?

With the spring semester looming on the horizon, the registration process kicks up a lot of questions about a student’s future. Most of the conversation involving registration brings up the question college students always hear: “What do you plan to do with your degree when you graduate?” The question, of course, is valid; it’s important for students to have a sense of direction when making big decisions about the future. So why pursue a liberal arts degree? 

Many students don’t know what exactly constitutes the broad category of “liberal arts” in college. Even up until I started working in the SoLA office, I wasn’t exactly sure of what fell under the umbrella of liberal arts. Most people get the basics – English, writing, creative arts – but don’t realize the broadness of the category itself. Liberal arts includes American studies, education, history, modern languages and classics, philosophy, political science, psychology, religious studies, social work, and sociology! So a liberal arts degree isn’t just for someone interested in studying Shakespeare or analyzing Plato; it can apply to hundreds of different career paths.

A liberal arts degree prepares its students with a number of soft and hard skills that are beneficial in the job market, including reading comprehension, analytical writing, and communication skills. Similarly, pursuing a liberal arts degree does not only mean taking English and philosophy classes; students are pushed to engage in a variety of topics, including math and sciences. A liberal arts degree does not teach one specific subject matter but a variety of them, making liberal students skilled and adaptable.

So what are some of your options as a liberal arts student? The first question I am asked when I tell people I’m an English major is always: “Are you going to teach?” This is not to dismiss teaching; being an educator is a valuable, fulfilling career path. However, popular belief is often that you can only teach with an English or history degree. Teaching is not the only option for liberal arts students. Students who focus in English or writing can pursue a career in writing/editing, as a sales manager, or as a communication specialist. Also beyond teaching, students can become involved in marketing communications, business analysis, public relations, copywriting, Human Resources, or sales representation. The opportunities are truly endless with a liberal arts degree.

To end on a positive note from The Muse, “don’t let today’s STEM-driven mindset get you down. No matter your major, the world is truly your oyster. Now go land a killer gig.”

Off-Broadway Play Comes to Siena

This past Wednesday, I had the pleasure of attending Platanos y Collard Greens, an off-Broadway comedy and romance play. Even though I’m a senior, it was the first play that I’ve gone to at Siena in the Beaudoin Theatre. I went in knowing very little about the play itself, only that it was a comedy with the tagline, “A tale of secret lovers from different cultures, who fall in love at first sight, until Mom finds out and has a heart attack!”

Platanos y Collard Greens focuses on two college students, Freeman, an African-American man, and Angelita, a Dominican woman, who fall in love, despite Angelita’s mother’s wishes. Angelita’s mother, who immigrated from the Dominican Republic to New York City, is vehemently against her daughter marrying outside her race, and she is especially opposed because Freeman is African-American. Amidst the relationship issues, racial tensions, and generational differences, Freeman campaigns for student government president with his friend Malady and his cousin OK. Though the concept of Platanos y Collard Greens is in itself a heavy topic, the play is very funny. Freeman’s cousin OK had the audience roaring with laughter for the entire performance, delivering witty one-liners and making hilarious facial expressions.

One thing I really enjoyed about the play was the incorporation of slam poetry and spoken word poems. Characters would often directly address the audience and perform a slam poem about what was troubling their character at that moment in the play. Each act was separated by a poem from a different character. For example, Angelita delivered a spoken word monologue about how she is Latina, but more than just a sexual object. Even though the actors kept the audience laughing through the entire play, Platanos y Collard Greens still managed to discuss contemporary racial issues on a deeper level, captivating the audience while simultaneously providing food for thought.

Keep an eye out for further coverage of Platanos y Collard Greens in the 10/19 issue of the Promethean!

 

Sandwiches and Sculptures: An Artist’s Visit

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of sculptures? Probably not tuna sandwiches. But for sculptor Madison LaVallee, sandwiches help her deal with a way of thinking about sculpture. Tuna sandwiches represent the time she spent growing up with her grandmother and bring back the sense of nostalgia over sharing a meal together. The sandwiches also reflect her grandparents’ gender roles, which she described as the “traditional gender roles of the 1950s family unit” – her grandma was a stay-at-home mom and her grandpa worked for General Electric. 

LaVallee and a student work with materials

LaVallee makes “material sandwiches” when sculpting. Her works focus on materials used in the home, which she stacks together in resemblance of a sandwich. She sculpts with what she considers “material outcasts” – drywall, carpet underlay, and popcorn ceiling paint – to make her unique sculptures. LaVallee initially thought sculptures had to be sophisticated and created through negative space, a notion which she rejects in her own work. She showed the audience images of her finished works, one of which included bricks from her childhood home. The materials themselves are symbolic, not only of home, but of the memories they elicit in the viewer. LaVallee explained that her works were not site-specific but site-related. “I’m thinking about that place and responding to it,” she said.

Students collect materials during a hands-on activity

Her background was originally in drawing and painting, but LaVallee was drawn to sculpting. “I was unsure how to navigate what it meant to be a sculptor,” LaVallee said. “I kind of wanted to experiment.” During her residency, LaVallee began making industrial sculptures in the woods, which caused her to realize how disconnected she had been from nature. She started introducing fake trees and green elements, placing them with construction materials, in her sculptures. “I’m identifying with nature in this faux, false way,” she explained.

Students pose with their finished sculptures

LaVallee conducted a hands-on activity for students at the end of her talk. She brought crates full of materials, including chicken wire, yarn, cardboard, and pipe cleaners. Though there were no rules on what types of sculptures to make, LaVallee encouraged students to pick one “hard” and “soft” material while crafting. They were able to piece their work together with a hot glue gun and take them home to keep as a reminder of LaVallee’s work and inspiration. 

Students can check out LaVallee’s work on Instagram at @madisonlavallee_art.

FRANKENSTEIN IS HERE AT SIENA

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but Frankenstein is beginning to take over at Siena. Wanna know why? Because this coming year is the 200th anniversary of when Mary Shelley published Frankenstein!

If you’re a freshman, you’ve read or are going to read Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein in your First Year Seminar class. Maybe you’re even in the FYS class about Frankenstein? If you’re in an English class or another Liberal Arts class, chances are you may be reading Frankenstein this semester! Otherwise, maybe you have begun to see some of the changes on campus that are celebrating the anniversary. If you haven’t seen them yet, let me tell you about them!

  1. Check out the display case of Frankenstein related books as you walk into the library! (On the left side)
  2. If you’re on the third floor of Siena Hall, check out the electronic banner that features Frankenstein!
  3. Mark your calendars for October 30th and 31st. The 1931 film, Frankenstein will be shown on the 30th and the 1935 film, Bride of Frankenstein will be shown on the 31st
  4. Check out this link of ALL of the events that will be happening on campus over the next year on campus! – https://www.siena.edu/news-events/article/frankenstein-200-years-of-fear-and-thinking

There are lots of speakers, film presentations, and even a play to look forward to. Check back on the blog for updates on these events!

 

Victoria Andler

Social Media Intern

Siena College School of Liberal Arts

Will Kempe’s Twelfth Night or What You Will

 

Hello Everyone!

I hope everyone has had a great first week of classes and is getting into the swing of things! While the first week is a busy time for all of us, I hope you were able to make it to one of the two performances of Will Kempe’s Twelfth Night or What You Will this past weekend. If not, I will recap what you missed!

Long before the performances on Saturday and Sunday, the players hosted a workshop for all Siena students to participate in on Friday from 5pm-7pm. They offered workshops in clowning, stage combat, among other things.

On both Saturday and Sunday, the players came out to Roger Bacon from 2pm-4pm and performed as the audience sat on the steps. It was a really cool experience to watch the play in the outdoors just as Shakespeare’s plays were meant to be performed.

One thing I enjoyed about the play was that while they stayed as true to the original as possible, they also incorporated some fun additions to keep the audience entertained. One thing they added was a musical component. Before the play, the Jester came out and introduced the audience to what would be happening, things for us to know, etc. Then the rest of the cast joined him and they sang for us some of the songs they would be performing throughout the play. They encouraged us to sing along with them. At first the audience was a bit hesitant but by the end people enjoyed singing along.

Another thing that was really great about Twelfth Night was that there were multiple alumni who starred in the play. It was nice to see alumni back on campus and involved. The people involved in the play were very talented and clearly experienced. Not only were they excellent actors but they were all talented singers as well. The actors who played the Jester and Maria stole the show in my opinion.

I want to thank The Creative Arts Department’s Theatre Program for sponsoring this event. I also want to encourage others to go and see other performances this semester that are put on by Stage III and The Creative Arts department. Often you can get event credit for First Year Seminar or other classes you need event credit for. Either way they are a lot of fun to go to!

Have a great second week back!

– Victoria Andler (Student Intern)

“Votes for Women”- A Historical Masterpiece

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Hi guys!

I hope you’re all doing well and that this dreary, rainy weather isn’t getting you down! If you’re in the Albany area this weekend and are looking for something fun to do, I HIGHLY recommend going to see “Votes for Women,” a performance put on by the Siena College Creative Arts Department detailing scenes from the Women’s Suffrage Movement.  I was able to attend this past Friday night and I was SO impressed by the skills of everyone in the performance, including some familiar faculty faces.  I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into when I decided to attend the performance because the flyer indicated that we wouldn’t be sitting in the theater per usual, that we would be walking around the building.  Our tickets contained a sticker on the back, each with a name and we were told that we were to follow the suffragist leader of that group.  My ticket read “Votes for Women” and I had the chance to follow Harriot Stanton Blatch (played by the wonderful June Casey) though various scenes throughout the Women’s Suffrage Movement, including the trial of the one and only Susan B. Anthony.  We literally walked all over Foy, including backstage, to reach these scenes and this is something that I have never done before!

I think the aspect of the performance that I was most impressed with was the historical accuracy that each cast member put into their characters.  The words spoken throughout the show were original text and content from the time period and many of the cast members were required to memorize extensive monologues in language that is not quite as familiar to us these days. In particular, Sandra Boynton who plays Susan B. Anthony, delivered her lines in such a way that I truly felt as if I had been transported back to her time. I was able to clearly see the absurdity in the way women were treated back then and honestly felt incredibly inspired after hearing the words spoken just so well and so passionately.

Check out the flyer above for location and time details for this weekend’s performance and please try to attend if you can! If you did attend the performance here at Siena, what did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Julia (Student Intern)