At the risk of losing readership, I wish to reflect just once more upon our recent Homecoming Weekend at Davis & Elkins. Specifically, I want to share three experiences from the weekend that amplify the centrality of the arts and humanities in our lives.
During a very busy weekend, I had not one, not two, but actually three opportunities to have the noise and clutter of our modern world pushed aside as I was whisked away to another metaphysical place where I found myself reflecting, refocusing and recharging.
Words can be very powerful! For an hour, I sat and listened to Dr. Bill King, D&E professor of English, read selections from his new book of poetry titled “The Letting Go.” Bill describes his book as an exploration of the deep connection between place and the individual. As one who admires talented writers, I was in awe of Dr. King’s ability to take the reader/listener to a place far away and to another time. I found myself “there” and experiencing the surroundings, the people, the situation, the encounters and the opportunities. His words enabled me to step out of the present and reimagine the power of relationships and the journey. My only regret was that the hour came to an end.
Later that afternoon, I found myself in the intimate and calming setting of Robbins Memorial Chapel on the Davis & Elkins campus. A 2016 D&E graduate treated us to a concert. Kaia Kater-Hurst was a member of our Appalachian Ensemble as a student. Immediately upon graduation she embarked upon what has been a remarkably successful venture as a singer and songwriter. Her talent and poise are remarkable for such a young woman. The depth of her lyrics and her haunting melodies took me away to another place and time. Once again, I found myself ruminating and reminiscing in my own mind, swept away to a calming place that put life and living in perspective. Kaia has a gift that was nurtured and emboldened by faculty and staff on this campus. Now she is literally traveling the world to share it.
The third “aha” moment of the weekend was a surprise. Until coming to Davis & Elkins, I did not know that “hooked rugs” existed, yet alone had the ability to inspire. June Myles, former chair of the Board of Trustees at D&E, is an artist. Hooked rugs are her medium of choice. The Paull Gallery on our campus served as the venue for the opening of June’s exhibit over Homecoming, and the crowd filled the room. There is a simplicity, a folksiness and a profound truth to the message displayed in this unusual medium. June demonstrates that art can be more truthful even than reality. She takes something mundane, a rug, and elevates it from the floor to the wall, enabling the onlooker to see things in a way that should or could be.
A quote from Kelly Pollock recently came to my attention: “The true purpose of arts education is not necessarily to create more professional dancers or artists. It’s to create more complete human beings who are critical thinkers, who have curious minds, and who can lead productive lives.”
The journey continues….