BXA Student Showcase

Carnegie Mellon interdisciplinary students stretch the boundaries of art

Izzy Sio Apr 16, 2017

There were 22 students in Carnegie Mellon University’s BXA Intercollege Degree Programs (BXA) that performed and showcased their creations and exhibits to the public in the College of Fine Arts building Wednesday, April 12 as part of the BXA Student Showcase.

The event was the first of its kind in the history of BXA. Traditionally, BXA students students share their inventive projects that synthesize diciplines from all across campus in an annual event called Kaleidoscope. Instead, this year Amanda Branson, a senior pursuing a Bachelor of Humanities and Arts in decision science and music performance, hosted the BXA Student Showcase as part of her senior capstone.

The BXA Student Showcase is part of Branson’s senior capstone project, a required project of BXA seniors where students create work that reflects their curricula and learning over their college career.

“You can see, through the eyes of the artists, what’s important to them with the exhibits,” Branson said. “I hope that the Student Showcase helps empower others to succeed through seeing the works of others.” Branson also participated in the showcase, giving a commencement speech and performance.
Six other students held performances in the Kresge Theatre.

The performances ranged from the delightful and quirky, such as junior Bachelor of Science and Arts in chemistry and music performance student Valerie Senavsky’s Who Needs a Cello to Play the Cello Song, to the emotive, such as Bachelor of Humanities and Arts in technical writing and music technology junior Joshua Brown’s dance performance Voodoo Bag.

Dante Horvath, a senior pursuing a Bachelor of Humanities and Arts in linguistics and music performance, performed four Hungarian folk songs by Zoltan Kodaly. This performance was a great example of the essence of showcase and the BXA Intercollege Degree Programs as a whole, with Horvath synthesizing his two interests into one cohesive work. Horvath’s family’s Hungarian heritage was channeled throughout the four pieces, and not only showcased Horvath’s work during his time at Carnegie Mellon but his personality as well. All of the performances were recorded and are available for viewing on the event’s Facebook page, BXA Student Showcase.

Across the hall in the Alumni Concert Hall were 15 visual exhibits, including a diverse range of media from computer programs to sculptures and paintings. Complete with a reception, the Showcase structured the Alumni Concert Hall so attendees could walk around the exhibits at their own leisure and fully embrace the artwork of the students involved.

Seniors pursuing a Bachelor of Computer Science and the Arts John Choi’s “Hugging Robot” and Luca Damasco’s Wick editor were two of the computer programs featured at the exhibit. Choi’s “Hugging Robot”, inspired to be his own “robot butler,” gave surprisingly good hugs and could even move on its own. An Xbox controller was also wired to the robot to make it easier to control. Damasco’s Wick editor is a multimedia creation tool that helps create websites that would require a lot of coding in mere seconds, and showcased various programs made with Wick throughout the exhibit. In classic Carnegie Mellon BXA fashion, these exhibits challenged and blurred the distinction between innovation and art.

A junior pursuing a Bachelor of Computer Science and Arts in computer science and music technology, Sara Adkins also used technology as a springboard for her art, but her project showed the other side of what technology and art can do. Her “RobOrchestra”, a series of robotic arms playing musical instruments, could be heard throughout the hall. The robot’s music, which was light-hearted and fun, matched the playful nature of the project and brought smiles to a lot of faces.

A junior pursuing a Bachelor of Business and Arts in global systems and management and art, Grace Wong featured her photo book entitled “Numbness: Rituals for Self-Preservation,” a striking collection that not only revealed aspects of her own personality but also encouraged visitors to examine their own.

Sophomore pursuing a Bachelor of Humanities and Arts in decision science and art, Daniel See not only showcased his project, but also put it for sale. See featured cups made by those affected by homelessness in Pittsburgh, selling each cup for $20 and using his project and the Showcase as a greater outlet for activism and awareness. His project was also featured in an art show on homelessness in Pittsburgh earlier this year.

Junior pursuing a Bachelor of Humanities and Arts in anthropology and art, Madeline Quasebarth’s “Meatsacks,” a collection of five photos of different body parts, was intricate and striking, standing out against its display. Senior Joni Sullivan, who is pursuing a Bachelor in Humanities and Arts in psychology and art, had two pieces, “Welcome Home” and “Pool Party,” which were bright and colorful, bringing a fun vibe to the Student Showcase.

The BXA Student Showcase succeeded in bringing together the Carnegie Mellon community through the artwork of others and helping departing BXA seniors celebrate their successes, and it has all the promises of becoming a new annual tradition for the BXA programs.