With such a historic building on campus, CMU is bound to have many hidden treasures. If you’re like me though, you probably aren’t aware of most of them. But thanks to fourth year interdisciplinary studies student Samantha Peters, a CMU gem is being opened to the community. The weekly ART JAM that Peters is running as part of the Spy Tower Press Book Arts Association is now giving the CMU community access to the art room/printing press on the third floor of the north campus building.
The Book Arts Association was sparked when Peters fell in love with CMU’s printing press last year through the History of the Book course with Prof. Paul Dyck. Peters said she and Dyck began to dream of what the space could become over the summer.
“We talked about how we could make the space work better and be more usable. We decided that if we were going to make it more usable, we should use it more,” Peters said.
And that’s exactly what Peters did. She now offers weekly ART JAMs; lunchtime sessions where students, staff, and faculty can bring creative projects to work on, and plans to offer other workshops as well.
“We want this to be a community thing where people can work with their hands together,” Peters added.
She notes that this is not your typical community gathering, which is just fine with her.
“I’m an introverted person, and if community building is centered on visiting and talking, I tend not to stay very long,” Peters said. “But what I love about things like the ART JAM is they’re kind of like an introvert party. People can just come and work on stuff, and as conversation arises, you follow it. But the whole point is not having to generate conversation. So part of it is making space for community gatherings where the focus is on the hands.”
For Peters, the Book Arts Association and ART JAM go much further than just giving an art outlet to the CMU community, though. It offers people a way to express themselves that doesn’t include digital technology and media.
“As we move more and more into a digital world, people are saying we’re going towards a paperless society,” Peters noted. “But I actually don’t think it will happen that way. We are such embodied creatures that we are going to become thirstier for this kind of stuff.”
Peters points out that this idea of embodiment is even more important in a theological context.
“I know that in the world of theological discussion at CMU, there’s a lot of talk about embodiment and wanting to overcome the mind-body dualism that we feel like we’ve inherited and has been harmful. So I think the more ways that the community can practice embodiment, the better.”
But at the end of the day, Peters hopes that at the very least, the ART JAMs and printing press can become a place of release and escape for students and staff.
“It’s great to get out of your head. It’s easy to get lost in thought in academics.”
Peters invites all CMU students, staff, and faculty to get involved by joining the Spy Tower Press Book Arts Association page on Facebook.
Jason Friesen is our lead blogger, and he’s in his final year of a Communications and Media degree at CMU.