By Will Broaddus
---- — The diplomas that students will pick up at graduations this week are symbols of what they have learned. But graduates of Endicott College’s master’s program in education arts and learning program will also put the process of their education on display.
“In many ways it will look like a traditional art show with non-traditional art,” said Enid Larsen, an associate professor at Endicott and assistant dean.
The show, which will be held tomorrow from 4 to 9 p.m. at the Cyber Cafe in the Van Loan School of Graduate and Professional Studies, will include displays of pottery and painting, along with performances of poetry and dance.
While the 20-month program in which these works were created bestows a degree in education, it isn’t just for teachers.
“‘Educator’ has a wide definition in this program,” Larsen said. “We draw students from so many other disciplines.”
Unlike many of the other students who will graduate this week, the engineers, therapists and college professors in the arts and learning program often have careers. The challenge they often face is the feeling that they have stalled, or are repeating themselves in their chosen paths. The key to getting unstuck, Larsen said, is taking risks.
“If you do things that are unfamiliar, your learning is challenged and enhanced,” she said. “If you keep doing things that you’re comfortable doing, there’s no new learning.”
By creating projects in five areas — visual arts, music, poetry/creative writing, drama and storytelling — students explore their own creative processes.
“The whole idea is to trigger and stimulate their own idea formation, to understand how that actually occurs,” Larsen said. At the same time, students are challenged to apply what they’ve learned in their work.
The program has been offered at Endicott for 14 years, with enrollment ranging from five to 16 students, Larsen said.
Susan Richardson, a special education teacher at Essex Aggie, is one of this year’s group of eight students. She created a garden for the art show.
“Each piece represents somebody in the cohort who helped me,” she said. “It’s kind of a metaphor for my whole process through Endicott.”
The garden draws on an earlier career as a landscaper, and includes a hosta made of paper, wire and paint, and an echinacea created with PVC piping, wire and paint.
Creating the pieces has given Richardson insights into her own struggles with a learning disability, which she can, in turn, apply to helping her students.
“Art connects to how people solve problems,” she said. “Not all students are able to show what they can do on one exam. They need to become independent, creative thinkers and problem-solvers.”
Alison Anholt-White’s contributions to the show will include a presentation she developed for the class in storytelling.
“It’s to do with bringing history to life, kind of a docent program for teaching students about history, with a focus on maritime history,” she said.
In an age when children are distracted by digital devices, storytelling relates to them in a direct way that empowers their imaginations, said Anholt-White, a graphic designer by training.
Peter Flister, another of the students, is the recreation director for Northeast Arc. He has always worked in ceramics, and adapted the skills and processes used for making pottery to some new materials.
“The main pieces I’m going to be displaying use paper pulp,” he said. “What I’ve done is added acrylic paint to the pulp and used that as a medium.”
Flister has created pieces on paper that are three-dimensional, and sometimes figurative, while other, more abstract pieces are monotypes, which he created by pressing the pulp through a screen.
“In some ways I feel like my creative and professional life had gotten stagnant,” Flister said.
Now, he said, “I’m doing things I never thought I would do.”
IF YOU GO ... What: Graduate student art show When: Reception on Friday, May 17, 4 to 9 p.m. Show on display until May 26 Where: Cyber Cafe, Van Loan School of Graduate and Professional Studies, Endicott College, 376 Hale St., Beverly Information: www.endicott.edu/gps/artsandlearning