Kitao painting invites campus to experience art

Photo by / Therese Tom

When you think about “Kitao Gallery”, what comes up to your mind? To some people on campus, “Kitao” is hipster and mysterious. To some others, they don’t even know where it locates. However, last Friday night, across the dullsville of fraternities and the peacefulness of the woods, Kitao Gallery was elevated with warm lights and joyous laughter. For every breath I took in, there permeated a mixed scent of paint and music. Only half an hour after the opening of the re-painted Kitao, there was already an outrageous explosion of colors and forms on the walls, from dramatic to whimsical. People were either pacing back and forth from the walls, deliberating over their artistic statement, or standing and chatting casually with hands dirty and scattered paint on face. Here is a brand-new Kitao.

In Kitao, students were provided with basic materials – washable paint, brushes, sponges. The stark spotlessness of of the wall invited everyone to interact with the space in a personal way, to dig into the colorfulness and leave their own mark. From detached people-watching to tentatively putting down their first stroke, jolly rhythm bobbing in the back, people gradually integrated into the vibe. As the palettes covered with intertwining splashes of vibrant shades, more and more art pieces sprawled their way onto the wall, with burgeoning styles and distinct messages. “This is a great way for student to express their creativity. I love that there is a lot of freedom,” Wendy Xu’19 said, “You can literally do anything you want, and it doesn’t matter how good at art you are.”

The Kitao Gallery space was acquired in 1999 through the joint efforts of the Student Art Association and the Photography Club. The student art “movement” won the referendum against SCCS to become the only public student art space for students. Previous to 1999, this beautiful Tudor style building was merely used for storage and small events. Renovation of the space was completed in 2000. In May 2001, the gallery was dedicated to retired art history professor, T. Kaori Kitao. However, here it is now, with its white-painted walls, welcoming the whole campus to give new definition and liveliness.

“Our goal this year is to expand the purpose of the gallery- to open it up to be a more diverse space.” Tara Giangrande’16, co-president of Kitao, said with with excitement “So with this event, we are having people come to Kitao to dispel the idea that it is an untouchable gallery with white walls that opens only sometimes. And our long-term goal is to open up the awesome space for more performance, visual art groups, literary groups as well as spoken words events.”

Through its own capacity as a student-run gallery, Kitao is experimenting with new ideas and ways to engage the campus. Dyami Farnsworth’19, a newly-joined member on board said that “I have always been doing art since I was a kid. Both of my parents are artists. Though I did not come to Swarthmore with an expectation of what the art scene would be, I do hope that it is always encourages new people and non-majors to join. I think that is what Kitao is doing.” On a campus where students resort to a variety of outlets to express their opinions and individuality, Kitao stands in importance and necessity. Compared to other gallery spaces, Kitao has the freedom to readily cater its purpose to the students. “We really don’t want to lose the space because it is so uniquely devoted to art and thinking. We hope to revive it and to get the campus excited to the possibilities. It will be great if we can link up with the Olde Club and have an art show going on here while a music performance there. Really the goal is to make Friday night a thing again. We want to get people out of the room and have some fun!” Tara’16 said.

The music in friday-night Kitao didn’t come to the end until mid-night. The walls were covered with strikingly overlapping strokes and diverse personalities, standing on their own telling the stories of each participant. Paint the Wall was a great start of Kitao’s transformation. With all the new ideas and excitement about the revival of this unique space on campus, we cannot wait to see how Kitao Gallery will bring another dimension to the on-campus art scene.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The Phoenix

Discover more from The Phoenix

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading