By Giovanna Scroggins
SMU student Niara Gill, 22, latches her fingers around a pair of craft scissors and slices a delicate lace fabric. Perplexity wipes across her face as she plots her next move.
Chatter fills the inside of the Prado on the Prairie, the name often referred to for the Meadows Museum for its collections of Spanish masterpieces. Students congregate around the museum Thursday night, upstairs and down, moving in different directions among the paintings to take part in the annual “Art After Dark” event. Various Valentine themed activities stir up the creative catharsis, including collective collages, jewelry making, and a photo booth that provides a memento of a lovelorn late night.
“I feel like an artist,” Gill said.
The sugar rush from the dessert bar provides all the excitement needed to experience everything from getting a temporary tattoo to writing poems to listening to gallery talks highlighting the love stories of Spanish royalty featured in the museum’s exhibits. SMU’s Southern Gentlemen and Belle Tones perform acapella while students sample offerings from the candy charcuterie board.
A wall of love and heartbreak is the focal point of the collective collage visual experience. Students join other student artists to design a collage.
Gill settles on building a collage upon a broken heart.
“Once upon a time I was a stupid girl, and sometimes that inspiration just leads into being artists and also sadness, which honestly is not a scary emotion,” she said. “If you feed into it you can learn a lot about yourself, and channeling that inner artist, it’s just the best way to go.”
Most of all, “Art After Dark” gives students a chance to participate and collaborate with their peers, said Anne Kindseth, director of education at Meadows Museum.
“We work closely with students across campus to help design and implement activities throughout the evening,” she said. “So it’s not only a great opportunity for us to really highlight what the museum has to offer, but also to give a platform to really highlight the talents of students across campus.”
Sara Dotter, an event volunteer and graduate student pursuing a masters in studio and fine arts at SMU, said she especially likes collages.
“It allows you to mix a lot of different elements and tell a new story with a lot of elements,” she said. “(You can) tell a new story with a lot of different diverse pieces of paper or color and make something new out of disparate elements,” she said.
Meanwhile, Gill looks around for more elements to add to her broken heart collage.
“I wish there was glitter,” she said.