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Hamza Azeem, Emily Blackford, Em Chen, Dilana Kocak, Johanna Krueger, Joseph Lisa, Pavan Machhi, Anisah Mahmood, Michael Mankiewicz, Oluchi Nwankwo, Michaela Peyrek, Jay Prasad, Kai Simon, Sarthak Uppal, Ethan Xu, Alexandra Zoubrilov

Facilitator: A. Musu Davis

A Mosaic of Many Unique Stories

Digital print with reflective cardstock, 24×36 in.
Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program
Honors Colloquium Section H2

Rutgers is a beloved community that fits together like a puzzle. The students spent several weeks defining and redefining what it means to be a community. RU reflected in this community?

The class theme was about community, and our job was to analyze the definition of a community. We deduced it to a group of people who have something in common. Therefore, we were drawn to a collage idea for an art piece since it combines the concepts of multiple people into one cohesive artwork, representing diverse voices and perspectives, while also having the advantage of simplicity. We debated a few different types of collages. We were inspired by a collage of “pixels” that combine to form one larger image, and another was a series of flags, but eventually we settled on creating a collaborative puzzle since it was the most inclusive of our diverse images.

The image connects with the idea of a beloved community due to the emphasis placed on the many different aspects of a community. The puzzle pieces highlight the myriad of different meanings of a beloved community, all of which depend on your situation at Rutgers. Everyone’s perspective can be contrasting, but all are equally appreciated. The differing images portray how there are various characteristics that define the beloved community at Rutgers. Like how a puzzle is made up of pieces of different shapes, which all come together to create a larger image, constituents of a community fit together with unique relationships because a community is full of diverse people. The edge pieces of the puzzle have room to insert more pieces. Like how a real community is always expanding, our art piece is open to growth. It goes to show how the Rutgers community is inclusive and dynamic.

Moreover, the inclusion of a mirror puzzle piece underscores how your unique perspective and situation affect your belief of what a beloved community entails—you find your own unique part of the community.

While the puzzle occupies half of the final art piece, the other half is a collection of “six-word stories,” inspired by Megan Lotts and her approach to art. Photos show the complexity of a community, while six-word stories show its simplicity. By placing them next to each other, we can show the duality of the idea of community.

“Everybody does not care about you” represents a harsh but beautiful reality: most people are disinterested in you as a person. On the surface, this may seem pessimistic, but it only makes our close-knit friend groups that much more special. Community is similar to life. The scarcity of life makes it meaningful, like how the scarcity of close relationships makes them much more valuable.

“Zoom out and recognize the excluded’ is inspired by Professor Gursel from the Anthropology department, who shared the insight that there is always something or someone deliberately being excluded in a photograph. To include something means to exclude other things. The goal of our poster was to contrast that definition. A community is special, and so is our art piece. We cannot afford to exclude anybody, since an ideal community is about including everyone. We chose to be as inclusive as possible, compiling as many different interpretations of community in one place.

Every single six-word story has a deeper story behind it, and it’s open to interpretation by every person who reads them. The six words give the main idea, but they can be expanded to the reader’s imagination.

The overall message of our piece was to reassure the viewer that they are indeed beloved in this community, even though we live in a world that seems polarizing, intimidating, and exclusive.