Through the pursuit of art and the exploration of ideas, we artists and humanists fuel our instinct to positively impact our world with our creative processes. “Know Thyself,” the famous aphorism inscribed at Delphi that was later made famous by Socrates, reflects the artist’s and humanist’s desire to paint, sculpt, film, photograph, act, dance, compose… ideas become shapes, feelings turn into melodies, concepts inspire reflection. A camera angle explores emotions and builds suspense; a reporter speaks truth and forges community ties; a speechwriter finds the right words to convey the significance of democracy, justice, and dignity; an educator leads her students in understanding the value of centuries-old questions that still illuminate our quest to form a more perfect society.
In our creative engagement with ideas, we artists and humanists always have in mind sharing the thoughts that have taken flight, for the sake of strengthening our bonds with others, forming bridges of understanding, and providing insights that will promote the common good.
Once in the workforce, our contributions are immense: Our gifts of communication, understanding of art and artistry, and critical reflection provide us with the tools necessary to find creative solutions and promote a sense of unity in diverse environments.
At its core, our academic mission reflects a foundational desire to train the next generation of artists and humanists who will continue on our quest to change the world. Every semester, as I think about our recent accomplishments, I’m truly impressed by the breadth of creativity that comes from the synergy of faculty and student minds engaged in creative processes. Because we earnestly believe in the power of our disciplines, we will continue to develop our skills, pursue our endeavors, and educate our students with integrity, even when faced with adverse circumstances.
Day of Giving proved to be successful beyond our expectations; donations to Dean’s Council reflect and promote the value of our disciplines. During D.o.G., we celebrated ourselves, our sense of belonging, and our ever-present creative spirit, as we felt immensely thankful to College faculty and staff, and supporters from the greater University community, the Central Valley, and beyond.
The support of Dean’s Council bears bountiful fruit: Five of our MCJ students went to Ghana for 16 days, where they collaborated with students from four colleges at Fresno State (Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Health and Human Services, Science and Mathematics, and Social Sciences) to document a Ghanaian community’s effort to become fair trade certified. Their videos are a testament to the power of storytelling: Our students from across the University came together to learn about life, and in so doing, they broke with pre-conceived notions about happiness, the value of manual work, and the meaning of life. Indeed, it’s a trip that allowed our students to value the humanity and joy in others while becoming conscious and thankful for what they have in Fresno. This experience, like so many others, brings home the reason I donate to Dean’s Council: We give our students the opportunity to create value in their own lives, so that they may, in turn, strengthen the value of respect in our communities.
I’ve used the term of art in all of its inclusive forms: writing, visual, plastic, performative, etc., because I believe in the inherent unity of the arts and humanities. For this reason, Nora and I have focused our energy on making the Performing Arts Center a reality. We are glad to report that, with President Castro’s support, the second phase is progressing smoothly. Imagine how wonderful it’ll be to have a space that forges a bridge of enjoyment, admiration, and respect amongst all demographics of our community. Our rich cultural heritage, showcased on stage, will bring us together in celebration of our unique backgrounds. Please stay tuned as we continue to work hard to realize this dream.
I conclude the CAH Fall 2018 newsletter with this thought: I am proud and humbled to find, semester after semester, extraordinary examples of our creative efforts. We harness the power of our disciplines to help bring about the personal transformation reflected in the centuries-old aphorism, “γνῶθι σεαυτόν” –know thyself. I take joy in the fact that our faculty and staff –proud champions of artistry and thought—are hard at work empowering the next generation of artists and humanists to continue with this noble mission.