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Smallen Grants Fuel Creativity


Thirteen students have been awarded Smallen Creativity grants to support art projects and independent study.  The Smallen Fund encourages creativity among Hamilton students by providing support for projects displaying originality, expressiveness, and imagination.

Take Dehao Tu ’20, for example, who is using his grant funding to support his senior thesis. “I want to explore VR technology as a digital art medium and investigate its potentials for helping people to empathize with each other,” he said. “With the Smallen grant, I'm able to purchase digital assets to create 3D graphics in the virtual space and building materials to make an engaging environment in real life.”

Charlotte “Charlie” Guterman ’22 and collaborator Zach Jones ’22 will explore the intersections of art and physics through the lens of light. “The Smallen grant gives our project, Interference, a platform specifically geared toward interdisciplinary work, as well as generous funding to support our materials,” Guterman said. “It allows us to share our work more publicly and have wider conversations about our passions. Right now we are working on creating diffraction pattern light experiments, then exposing them on photosensitive paper to create latent images that we will then develop in the dark room as photographs.” 

Other projects include:
  • Hilary Ortega ’21 will deconstruct the popularized term campesino/a by photographing the experiences of campesinos and campesinas (“peasant farmers”) in the Dominican Republic.
  • Kayla Beardslee ’21 plans to explore how various characteristics of music can be translated into poetry and how the two media can work together to become more than the sum of their parts.
  • In her project, Sunny Chen ’20 will portray the intimate relationship between a mother and child through painting, as reflected in her relationship with her mother.
  • Emma Fighera ’20 plans to highlight the surreal, using digital manipulation to muddle fiction and non-fiction within the same frame. "By creating something intentionally deceitful or misleading,” she said, “I aim to provoke the question: how do I know that what I know … is true?”
  • Through sculpture, Teddy Golden ’20 hopes to “illustrate the concept of viewing oneself through the eyes of others, showing that the individual experiences that make up our lives … create something beautiful and unique when viewed as a whole.”
  • Elias Griffin ’20 describes his project: “Using the sculptural figure as a launching point, relevant in its immediacy to the viewer and situation in art history, I want to find the point where the body, object desire, and the flow of information intersect in the contemporary experience.”
  • Claire Lincoln ’20 will create a music video that reflects her experience “growing up [with] ADHD, taking medication, and how these things can affect an individual’s life." The video will incorporate animation, live action, and will be matched to the beat and rhythm of an original, fast-paced score composed by Anthony Reyes ’20.
  • Drawing on her experience working with different printmaking techniques in high school, Satchel McLaughlin ’22 will experiment with silk screening, linoleum printing, and laser-cut woodblock printing, focusing on color theory and pattern using photographs she has taken as inspiration.
  • Corinne Russell ’20 proposes to interview women at Hamilton about their experiences reading fiction and publish the results in a self-designed booklet.
  • For her senior art thesis project, Nanaka Suzuki ’20 will “create paintings on silk that draw inspiration from traditional Japanese kimono iconographies. The fabric will serve as a three dimensional portrait of myself and my experiences moving to this country at a young age, and communicate the complexity of intersectionality and competing identities,” she said.
Nanaka suziki sr. project
Nanaka Suzuki '20 displays a painting on silk.
  • Thanks to the Smallen award, Matt Tom ’20 said, “I have the financial means to complete my senior thesis in visual art. This award will provide me the materials to build four large canvases on which I will paint a series of family portraits. Through this project I attempt to find a new equilibrium within my family which over the past couple of years has been affected by passings and geographical division.” The series will document imbalanced familial structures and the change within our relationships, he said.

Former Vice President for Libraries and Information Technology David Smallen and his wife Ann established the creativity fund in 1993 in memory of their son Steven. Steven Smallen studied at Hamilton for a year while receiving treatment for leukemia, before losing his battle with cancer in 1992.

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