Students, faculty and staff can stop by the green space north of the Nebraska Union on April 26 to add painting strokes to a canvas that aims to build “The Human Connection.”
The event, organized by three University of Nebraska–Lincoln students and sponsored by the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts’ Undergraduate Student Advisory Board, will begin at 9:30 a.m. on the Meier Commons. It will run until 4 p.m. or until the painting is complete.
“We will be setting up a blank canvas in the Meier Commons with the words ‘The Human Connection’ taped onto it,” said Alex Cathcart, a junior math major helping organize the event. “We will then ask passersby to contribute a single paint stroke to the canvas. We will have a wide variety of paint colors and paint brushes available to encourage everyone to be as creative as possible with their stroke. With each person’s addition, the painting will grow until the entire canvas is filled.”
The organizers — Cathcart; Taylor Hoskinson, sophomore advertising and public relations major; and Jack Dobson, freshman psychology major — plan to donate the piece to the university and will take the names of those who participate so they can be recognized for their contribution.
Hannah Mason, a junior theatre performance major and member of the Hixson-Lied Undergraduate Student Advisory Board, said they were eager to support the project.
“Quite honestly, there was no reason not to sponsor the event,” she said. “As arts students in all areas, we all understand the neglect that the arts community has faced this past year due to the pandemic and how we have often been pushed aside, so we were eager for the opportunity to create again and reinforce the idea that art is still very much alive. I, personally, know that I have missed all the usual events that would occur outside of the union throughout the year, so I was excited by the idea to have a fun and relaxing project presented to the students that will hopefully take their minds off of final tests and projects, even if it’s just for a few moments.”
Cathcart said the project is in response to the pandemic year and a desire to build community.
“I think it’s an understatement to say that the past year has been tough for the vast majority of people,” Cathcart said. “COVID forced us inside our houses and, despite our best efforts, it isolated us from our communities. I believe that maintaining a healthy connection to our support systems, whatever those may be, is vital for our well-being as people. So, I started thinking of ways to solve this problem (in a COVID conscious way) and reached out to my friends Taylor Hoskinson and Jack Dobson for their input. That’s how The Human Connection was born.”
Mason likes that the event is inclusive.
“Here, you don’t have to be an artist to participate,” she said. “In fact, we are encouraging students from all walks of life to paint, whether you may be an English major, a pre-med major, a classics major, etc. Stationing this project by the union was very important because we knew that we would have a variety of students passing by at all hours, and we wanted to ensure that each student who wished to participate was given the chance. This helps reinforce and remind us of the idea that art can be very inclusive, and anyone can come together to make something beautiful.”
Cathcart hopes it’s a chance for people to reconnect with their community during tough times.
“I hope this project will serve as a lasting reminder that, even though it may not always feel like it, we are all connected,” he said. “Each of our unique temperaments, talents and convictions adds to our community, and because of those differences, our campus (in this case, the painting) becomes more beautiful.”
The Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts Undergraduate Student Advisory Board is providing the painting materials for the project. The College of Journalism and Mass Communications is also supporting the project by loaning cameras and microphones to record the event.
COVID-19 safety procedures, such as sanitizing paintbrushes after each use, enforcing social distancing and mask use, will be followed.
Cathcart is brainstorming new ideas to bring people together and plans to hold more events like this one.
“If this project can positively affect just one person, I will call it a success,” Cathcart said.