‘Connections’ exhibit in Eastern Star Gallery sparks interactions between students, faculty


Photo credit: Vaughan Anoa'i

Multi-colored prompts, prompt responses, and a rainbow ball-pit fill up the Eastern Star Gallery space for the "Connections" exhibit. Both students and faculty members used this space as an opportunity to make new connections and rekindle old ones.

Interactive, community-oriented and rainbow-themed prompts and responses covered the once white walls in the Eastern Star Gallery for the first two months of the 2019-2020 school year. “Who or what inspires you?” and “What brings you joy?” were just a few of the questions pasted around the space.

“Usually the exhibits in there are things like art that you just look at,” sophomore Andrea Ramirez said. “This one, you were actually able to go inside and spend time in there.”

In addition to the multi-colored prompts, the main aspect of the exhibit intrigued students, faculty, and even visiting parents to dive head first into a rectangular rainbow ball pit.

“We were trying to come up with something fun for when the students came back to school and to the Gallery space,” photography teacher and co-creator of the current exhibit Marya Alford said. “We wanted you guys to enter into Archer and just see a whole new space of art and to be inspired by that in some way.”

Alford said she and performing arts teacher Reed Farley drew inspiration from a video produced by Soul Pancake, a digital media and entertainment company. Samantha Coyne-Donnell, Archer’s former upper school director, introduced the video to her. In the Soul Pancake version, different prompts are pasted on the multi-colored balls within a ball pit to spark natural interactions and meaningful conversations between strangers.

“These questions kind of allow you to have a conversation with someone that you might not know and allow you to make these connections that then you can keep and build upon in the future,” Alford said.

Even though prompts were not plastered directly onto the balls like in the video by Soul Pancake, having these prompts fully cover the walls accomplished Alford’s vision of creating “authentic” connections and bringing the community closer together.

“If all the balls were black it would’ve just been like, ‘Oh, whatever.’ But since they’re all so colorful it brought to the aesthetic of the place,” Ramirez said.

Along with the interactive prompts, the physical appearance of this exhibit caught the eye of multiple students and faculty members within the community.

“I think it stood out,” junior and member of the Eastern Star Gallery Board Astrid Mcquaide said. “It’s just a lot more interactive and there were a lot more people in the gallery than there’s ever been, which I think was really nice to see.”