It has been said that art exists all around us, and that is especially true on Chapman University’s campus. Yet, how often do you even notice the sculptures or paintings as you walk along rushing to your destination? Or perhaps it seems like it is not there for you, pieces sought out and arranged for art aficionados not really intended to be discussed by students enjoying a coffee on the way to class. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. That concept is what sparked the idea for the Panther Perspectives Project.

Panther Perspectives is an initiative conceived of by Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, and Creative and Cultural Industries (CCI) faculty member Dr. Jamie Larkin in his Introduction to Museum Studies course. Before the pandemic, the course included several field trips to area museums and exposure to the university’s art collections. Facing the challenges that came with teaching during COVID-19 Dr. Larkin wanted to integrate a project intended to help students remain creative, engaged and motivated during the pandemic. Key to the project is the concept of looking at ways in which community members can feel more welcome and valued in creative spaces and helping the audience to realize that all interpretations of art are valid.

Norm Hines (1984)

CCI students who worked on the project were asked to analyze and research a specific piece from Wilkinson College’s Escalette Permanent Collection of Art piece displayed in the Keck Center for Science and Engineering in order to familiarize themselves with the origin, artist, and the artist’s message behind the piece. They were then given the option to voice record, video tape, or be as creative as they wanted in the interpretation of their chosen piece. Finally, students produced and placed a sticker with a scannable QR code next to the artwork. When scanned the student’s method of interpretation can be watched or listened to via smartphone. The Escalette Collection was chosen because it is the largest collection of art on Chapman’s campus and exists to inspire critical thinking, foster interdisciplinary discovery, and strengthen bonds with the community.

Peter Bynum (2018)

Currently Panther Perspectives is solely being produced in Dr. Larkin’s Museum Studies course which runs in the spring semester. However in the future he hopes “that the project will expand to become an initiative that everyone in the Chapman community can be a part of”, and will include the perspectives being recorded in a diverse set of languages and visuals to increase inclusivity as a reflection of the whole Chapman community.

In the meantime you can experience the first installments of Panther Perspective featuring the Escalette Collection in the Keck Center for Science and Engineering or listen here.  To learn more about the project and the Escalette Collection, read our full blog story here.