Stripe Club stripes up masterpiece with Artist in Residence

It began with a yolk-yellow wall. 

Nearly four weeks later, the Dickinson Visual Arts Endowment Artist in Residence, Leah Rosenberg, perches on a ladder in the Rothschild Performing Arts Center (RPAC), rolling on a final layer of “Strawberry Red” paint on the hallway’s wall. Rosenberg, who began her residency on Oct. 17, has been working in tandem with Art Club and the Visual Arts department to develop Stripe Club. 

Stripe Club is the community offshoot of Rosenberg’s project, “If Time Were a Color,” which includes the large mural in the RPAC. The mural’s layers of paint correspond to overlooked everyday objects, such as the muted greens of basil or the sweet yellow of honeybees. The horizontal lines surrounding the little alcove in the hallway mimic the intimacy of a hug, while the vertical panels studded with striped canvases invoke images of themed salon rooms within a great palace. 

“[Large scale art] appeals to me because it can be experienced by many,” Rosenberg said. “It doesn’t have to just be looked at. If you’re there with [the art], you’re as much part of [the message] as it is. The art is always evolving when people are [interacting] with it.”

Stripe Club offered screen printing of the day’s color outside of the RPAC lobby each Monday and Thursday after school. Any student could join in, designing their own patterns on a canvas or bandanna. Rosenberg and upper school visual arts teacher Pilar Aguero-Esparza used screen printing because of its efficient and interactive nature. Students picked which thickness and location they want to place the day’s color on their bandanna.

“Printmaking is a serial process, but we’re doing it in a way that makes it unique, [which allows] each person to print whatever [designs or] colors they want,” Aguero-Esparza said. “[Students] just have to decide to do it.”

As the weeks passed, more and more students picked up bandannas and begun printing their designs. To further incorporate the student body into the art, Harker Spirit Leadership Team (HSLT) and Stripe Club encouraged dressing up in the day’s colors. Students who dress up are then entered into a raffle. 

“[Stripe Club] creates a fun sense of community,” Christina Rex (11) said.“It almost gives [me] purpose when I get ready every morning. [I think], ‘I know what color is gonna happen today, I can dress up for it.’”

Some students based their stripes on intuition and spontaneity, “slapping on stripes” where they think they need them. Other students come into the project with a clear concept, such as Catherine Russell (11), who chose to create hypnotizing squares. 

“My design is just perpendicular to the side and slowly moving in,” Catherine said. “It’s like a weaving pattern, and I want everything to look like it’s all interlocked.”

By gathering the community around the chosen, vivid colors every Monday and Thursday, Rosenberg not only reminds the community of the beauty of the ordinary but also creates an opportunity to embed new memories and meanings within those colors. 

“Leah really breaks down what color can signify,” Aguero-Esparza said. “It’s not just a visual concept. For [Leah], color could be a sense, a taste, it could be memory, it can be poetic, something that’s inspired by poetry or something that inspires poetry.”