You can't spell art without RA

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Casey Tissue, '16
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Do you ever pay attention to the walls of your dorm? I know I don’t. Usually I’m in such a rush that the trip out of my room, down the stairs, and into the cold outdoors is just a blur. However, after talking with a senior RA on West campus, I'm starting to pay attention to the wall art around my dorm.

Torie Scott, a second year RA in Kilgo House O, created a small photo gallery titled “One Wild and Precious Life” in an entrance of her dorm. It was her Resident Coordinator’s idea to put up photographs of nature in the otherwise empty lobby, and in the coming weeks they plan to have a grand opening “party” (the RA version of a party) to celebrate her work. After she graduates, the plan is to have another RA next year change the scenery in the gallery with new photographs.

As a lucky second year resident of Hotel Bell on East, I realize the importance of the appearance of the inside of a dorm. It truly makes a difference to the experience on campus. I’ve become slightly spoiled living in one of the best looking residence halls I’ve seen so far at Duke. The halls are painted orange and yellow with wooden panels across the lower half, and the rooms are all freshly painted and carpeted. There is some art around the dorm, too, but it is not student produced (as far as I know). It seems like it’s there to take up space on the wall rather than to inspire students. It would be great if we had more displays of student creativity around our living spaces. Art produced by fellow Duke students would give dorms a personal and inviting atmosphere, something they currently lack.

While her residents haven’t said very much about the gallery yet, news about her project will spread after the opening party. However, the purpose of the gallery isn’t to create a powerful bonding experience among residents; rather, it reminds Duke students of the world outside stressful academics and activities at school. The green photos of leaves, dragonflies, and flowers represent the small beautiful sights in life that we frequently overlook in our rush through each day at Duke. The precious world outside the classroom is a refreshing theme to encounter here. Her gallery also serves to show the creativity of a Duke student who cares about her dorm. I asked Torie what she wanted me to take away from our conversation, and she told me that she just loved being an RA; it’s one of the best commitments she’s made at Duke. She enjoys being a resource for her residents and creating a healthy, friendly community in her hall. While the gallery may not help people to make friends, it shows them that someone cares about the dorm. Someone wants it to be a welcoming, colorful place to live.

Torie will be graduating this spring. Torie’s title “One Wild and Precious Life” sums up the experience at Duke perfectly. Our precious four years here are passing more quickly than we ever imagined they could.

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