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A group of students will march through campus tomorrow morning, wearing masks created in their Principles of Studio Art class. They will be accompanied by a small marching band: Karl Newlander ’03, Stephen Bayer ’04, Ryan Tobin ’03, pep band and brass ensemble director Tom DiGiovanni ’96, and a friend of class instructor Ross Gay ’96, Dean of Studies Humanities Fellow.

The parade will include choreographed movements at the Williams Visual Arts Building and in front of the Farinon College Center. Plans also are being made for accompaniment by the Lafayette Pep Band.

The parade will begin about 10 a.m. in front of the Williams Center for the Arts, proceeding along High Street as it passes in front of Markle Hall, winding onto Pardee Drive between Skillman Library and the Phi Delta Theta house, and bearing right onto South College Drive between South College and Van Wickle Hall. The parade will continue on South College Drive and proceed down the steps by the Simon Center that lead to downtown Easton. The students will perform a rehearsed movement piece at the Williams Visual Arts Building, then head up College Avenue, finishing in front of the Farinon College Center. The parade will conclude between noon and 12:30 p.m., culminating in another choreographed performance.

Choreography for the dances is being arranged by Brooke O’Harra ’95, who will hold an evening rehearsal session for the class. O’Harra studied movement in Japan for two years and runs a New York theater company that is scheduled to perform an off-Broadway play next spring.

In an earlier class assignment, the students created a mobile, using whatever materials they desired. The mobiles had to be designed to work best as moving, three-dimensional objects. “The students had to make their use of space interesting in several possible angles,” says Gay. “They also had to implement the majority of the colors in the color wheel and have interesting relationships between them.”

Another project paired up the students to create mechanized, four-foot puppets that had to move through pulleys or levers. Jennifer Gentile ’03 and Kristine Terzella ’03, for example, created can-can dancers from tennis rackets. Kelly Wise ’02 and Elizabeth Siliato ’02 made a large wooden figure with moving legs and arms. “The students did a really great job on that assignment,” notes Gay.

A winner of the George Wharton Pepper Prize as the senior who “most nearly represents the Lafayette ideal,” Gay will teach a unique class on art and poetry in the spring term. He has investigated the concept of marrying art and poetry at length in his own work and the work of others.

“One question is, ‘How can painting and poetry connect in some way?’ A more pointed question is, ‘How can words function in an image?’ I think it will be fun to address that question,” says Gay. “I’ll play with the correlation between visual arts and poetry, and make students think about it in ways that they haven’t done before.”

Gay has incorporated snippets of his own poetry into his paintings, following the tradition of established artists such as abstract painter Cy Twombly, whose works have fetched multi-million-dollar auction prices.

“One thing that’s great about this opportunity is that some of my former professors are here, who know a ton of stuff about what I’m studying,” he says. “They’re an amazing resource.”

The alumnus worked on physically putting together the Commemorative Quilt recently created by members of the Lafayette community who decorated individual squares. Unveiled earlier this month, the quilt expresses the theme of “Peace and Unity” in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks against the U.S.

Gay graduated with honors in studio art. A double major in art and English and a starting defensive end on the varsity football team, he received the Vivian B. Noblett Prize, given to the outstanding senior in studio art, and the Gilbert Prize for superiority in English.

His fellowship at Lafayette this year will be the latest in a series of contributions Gay has made to the enrichment of his alma mater’s cultural scene.

He collaborated this summer in a painting project that included use of text on the canvas with Chris Michaud ’03, a junior art and music double major from Millerton, N.Y., and Edward J. Kerns, Eugene H. Clapp II Professor of Art and director of the Williams Visual Arts Building. He led a workshop on poetry and painting for high-school students participating in art classes conducted by Jim Toia, director of Lafayette’s Community-Based Teaching Program.

He has also exhibited his work with artists Melvin Butler and Roderick Jordan at the David A. Portlock Black Cultural Center and participated in poetry readings.

During his stay at Lafayette, Gay is working toward a Ph.D. in literature at Temple University. He holds a master’s degree in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College. His poems have appeared in Sulfur, Columbia, American Poetry Review, and Harvard Review, among others.

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