To find traction and a sense of laying down tracks, making a mark, having a voice, you need these spaces. It’s not just Slocumb. It’s the Norris theater, the machine shop, the forge, the metal shop, the music studio, the woodworking shop. In Segovia and Aix we have them, and collectively they are some of the most important creative soul corners in our community. In the jargon of the day they might be called makerspaces or tinker spaces, but I like to think of them as soul corners, these eddies within community where one finds a path of one’s own while connecting with something much bigger than oneself. They are both humbling and inspiring.
In Slocumb, works in progress and works nearly finished are pinned to the walls, propped on easels, set up on shelves and tabletops. Even empty of students the space feels filled with life: paint brushes and palettes, pottery wheels and blocks of clay, the smell of oil paints and mineral spirits, that thin, comforting patina of clay dust just visible on the wooden floor. Even in its stasis it feels like movement. Or home of a kind. One’s own home designed, measured up, and crafted into that place where we go when we want to tap into what centers us, gives us purpose, and sets the world both into manageable perspective and gives us agency within it.
The arts have always been important at Proctor, but a further shoring up of the underpinnings of the arts at Proctor occurred when the trustees (this winter) established a committee on the arts as part of the formal board structure. The chair of the committee - Matt Nathanson '91 - wrote that the committee’s partial intent is to “amplify and nurture the arts at Proctor.” There has long been a sense that the arts matter at Proctor and that they are a part of our gravitational grounding, one of the essential tenets of the school to establish connections, windows into the other and wonders of the world, and the Board’s commitment to this will only help further ensure that these soul corners are acknowledged, celebrated, and supported.
Yesterday afternoon, after talking with Jill and watching her frame a piece of work for the arts show (don’t miss it next weekend), I walked up to the Norris Family Theater where it would be hung. Rehearsals for In the Heights were going on. Against the hum of construction and set painting, the cast was running through numbers (Carnaval Del Barrio, Albanza, Everything I Know, Champagne….) and I could see the stitching together of a powerful production. Easy? Certainly not, but as I sat in the back of the theater to witness the small show sampling, the electric energy of cast coming together and collective creative journey in progress was revealed. Another soul corner‘s power evidenced.
My recommendations is to get tickets early at the link below for next weekend (the show airs May 18-19 at 7:00 PM after the Spring Art Show at 6:00 PM), come enjoy the arts, and while you are here on campus (or whenever you visit) amble into some of the well loved soul corners of Proctor.
Mike Henriques P'11, P'15
Proctor Academy Head of School