Staying Connected to Art and Each Other

Photograph by Lois Wu ’23 submitted to “Life through Our Lens”In mid-March, just as the Art Museum’s Student Advisory Board (SAB) was diligently planning its spring programming, the University announced that all students were to leave campus for the remainder of the semester. SAB, which fosters student involvement with the Art Museum, immediately began adapting its initiatives for a digital world. Unable to host its annual Inspiration Night at the Museum, this year centered on the exhibition Life Magazine and the Power of Photography, SAB organized a digital collaborative called “Life through Our Lens” and invited students to share their photographs in response to themes found in the exhibition. SAB received more than 150 images from Princeton students. Board President Shelby Kinch ’22 said of the collaboration, “I think this project speaks to the resilience and creativity of the Princeton student community, as well as the power of photography to heal and articulate the human experience, especially during major historical moments such as the one we are living through now.”

The board developed several social media campaigns, including downloadable coloring pages inspired by the Art Museum’s collections, a series called “Senior Spotlight” highlighting graduating SAB members, and an initiative called #dailydose. During March and April, SAB members published thirty #dailydose posts in which they chose an object from the Museum’s collections and described how it brought them peace during this difficult time of isolation. Anoushka Mariwala ’21, chair of social media and marketing, explains, “Art became a lens through which we made sense of changes at every scale, from the personal to the international. I loved reading each post—rooted in familiar voices, they reminded me of the strength and empathy artwork could generate.”

#dailydose post by Grace Rocker ’23 on March 28, 2020. Object shown: Etruscan hair ring with female heads, 7th century BC. Gold, diam. 4.5 cm. Princeton University Art Museum. Museum purchase, Classical Purchase FundIn early June, as protests against the killing of George Floyd and violence faced by African Americans spread around the country, SAB issued a statement that read, in part:

The Student Advisory Board of the Princeton University Art Museum stands in solidarity with Princeton’s Black community and with those protesting racism and oppression within our community and across the nation. . . . The SAB is committed to recognizing and confronting the legacy of oppression in art institutions. We recognize that museums like our own have immense cultural power. As students in the art world, we pledge to listen to, learn from, and celebrate the works and writings of Black artists, curators, and art historians. We pledge to use our platform to promote inclusivity and anti-racism. We have the responsibility to confront racism in museums and other cultural institutions and to promote art as a means of change, expression, and activism.

The Student Advisory Board’s full statement can be found on its Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Cara Bramson

Student Outreach and Programming Coordinator