Fusion event spotlights outstanding work by CAAH students
“Remember show-and-tell? Well, this is show-and-tell in college,” said Dean Richard E. Goodstein as he welcomed guests to the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities’ annual Fusion event.
Faculty, staff, students and supporters of the College gathered in Lee Hall on Feb. 22 for this celebration of student work.
Students from all parts of the College brought their best work with them, forming a living gallery of undergraduate achievement. Guests were invited to circulate around the room to interact with all of the students and learn about their projects.
As the Clemson Jazz Combo played, guests visited exhibits that included the photography of sophomore visual arts major Marc McCrary, poetry by junior history and women’s leadership major Katie LaPorte, and a model of a planned design for an area of the Swamp Rabbit Trail by senior landscape architecture major Ellen Wilkins.
Guests put on headphones to listen to original musical compositions by senior performing arts major Samuel Goldstein, and learned about Ethics Bowl from senior philosophy and biological sciences major Caleb Hylkema and senior philosophy and mathematical sciences major Sylvia Wu.
The looming presence of an 8-foot-tall, fully operational, historically accurate guillotine started quite a few conversations. Sophomore Regan Ellward, a performing arts major with an emphasis in theater, began last summer with an unusual charge from her professor: spend the next three months researching, designing and building a real guillotine to be featured in the fall 2018 production of “The Revolutionists.” Ellward, who plans a career as a property master, rose to the challenge and crafted the prop, which she shared with interested guests at Fusion. (No, the blade is not sharp. But, yes, it is real.)
Fusion’s home in the Lee Hall Wedge area is a working space. Guests saw artists’ work left mid-sketch on desks, observed tables of architects’ scraps just beyond the bar and walked past graduate students hunched over drafting tables. And, thanks to the generosity of the South Carolina Botanical Garden, dozens of lush greenhouse plants added beauty to the space.
This may seem a strange place for a party, but it provides a context for the event, echoing the message that all we do in the College is about the amazing work our students do every day.
Senior English and philosophy major Abigail Fourspring, president of the CAAH Ambassadors, served as the master of ceremonies.
“I am always particularly struck by the enthusiasm of the guests. It is so rewarding to see that they deeply care about student work within the College,” Fourspring said. “I loved watching them walk around asking the student presenters about their work and seeing rewarding conversations occur.”
Students benefit in many ways from the experience of presenting at Fusion, she said.
“Speaking to a large and distinguished audience isn’t particularly easy, but the event gave me confidence and comfort knowing I have the capacity to do so in the future,” Fourspring said.
Adrina Patterson, a senior language and international health major, worked hard to make Fusion a success. As vice president of the CAAH Ambassadors, Patterson’s chief responsibility was leading the event’s planning and execution (no guillotine reference intended).
Patterson began working on Fusion as soon as school started in August. In the weeks preceding the event, she put in countless hours organizing and training presenters, carrying plants to and from the Botanical Garden in the pouring rain, convincing recalcitrant video screens that they really did want to show students’ slides, and generally ensuring that the evening ran as she had carefully planned.
“I’ve served as an ambassador each of my four years here at Clemson, and Fusion has been my favorite event,” Patterson said. “It was a wonderful opportunity to have the chance to plan it my last year here. For me, the best thing about Fusion is watching the students showcase their projects with so much enthusiasm, and be grateful for the chance to present something that they’ve worked passionately on.”
Like Fourspring, Patterson said she gained experience through the event, learning the importance of paying attention to every detail. “It’s also always best to start tasks early on so that you are not flustered when deadlines approach,” she said.
Senior world cinema and communications major Alex Mueller brought down the house by surprising the guests with his work, which is familiar to any Clemson football fan. Mueller has combined his love of film and his passion for athletics to chart a special path at Clemson. When he hit “play” on the video, guests were treated to the bellowing voice of Coach Joey Batson in the famous “Why We Work” video, which played to cheers and hands raised in the number four before the final quarter of every home football game.
Mueller shared insights into the process of creating the video, telling guests that he had envisioned the entire sound design before filming a second of it, and that no one except Coach Batson was ever considered to deliver the passionate speech.
Mueller enjoyed Fusion as an opportunity “to put a smile on people’s faces.” Guests appreciated matching a face and a story to a video they have seen so many times. Many never realized a student played such a key role in the production of a video they know by heart.
“What really stood out to me was when one guest shared a story about a 4-year-old boy and his mother,” Mueller said. “His mom was putting on some lotion and offered some to her son, but he refused saying, ‘They don’t put championship rings on smooth hands.’ It is astonishing how far reaching my work can be.”