CAST minors present creative, social transformation projects

April 12, 2019

Earlier this week, I was fortunate enough to attend an event held by the interdisciplinary CAST (creativity, the arts and social transformation) minor at the Shapiro Campus Center. The event was divided into two sections.

During the first part, Jean Poulard ’19 presented his capstone project. He showed a video that included beautiful murals that incorporated Mayan influences. These murals respected and remembered Mayan culture and were able to convey ideas of beauty and health to viewers. Poulard spoke of how much he admired the way people have used art to express values that are important to them.

He also discussed the way Americans use art to convey the importance of health and showed the audience numerous ads from the United States that promote health. The first one was produced by PETA to convince people to go vegetarian. Another ad was meant to promote life insurance and showed a picture of a dad shaving and his son gazing up at him in admiration.

The most controversial ad was one meant to promote mental health. This ad wanted to call attention to mindfulness and showed a picture of a woman, but instead of showing her head, they photoshopped in doll heads instead. Many audience members were confused with this depiction. One even called it disturbing.

Poulard went on to explain that the point of his project was to explore different ways a culture depicts health and what that says about the culture. He’s fascinated by how people choose to use their creativity to inform the public on topics such as health and wellbeing.

I really enjoyed the interactive of his presentation, where he asked the audience to come up with our own ads to promote health and educate the public. We spent fifteen minutes designing our own public health advertisements and then presenting them to everyone. Everyone shared positive messages about health. One ad promoted meditation.

The second part of the event featured Rasheed Peters ’20 and a screening of an episode of his series “Proper Bantah.” These episodes consist of two parts. In one of the parts, Peters interviews people and allows them to tell their stories and share their passions, and in the second, he gets to join the guest speakers in a particular hobby they enjoy.

In the episode we watched, Peters interviewed Akim Sanni ’21, who plays basketball for Brandeis. He discussed how he felt when he left his home in Benin to come to America and the cultural shocks he felt at times. Sanni also spoke about how he loves having the ability to pursue both his athletic and academic dreams in college. It was really important to him to not have to sacrifice one for the other.

One of my favorite parts of the inspiring interview was when Peters asked Sanni about how he’s able to manage his time when he has so much going on. He explained that he’s able to complete his responsibilities because he has equal passions for both being a student and being an athlete. He values both equally, which makes it easier for him to both get his work done and play at games and train.

We were also able to watch both of them take on sculpting, one of Sanni’s favorite hobbies. They made a sculpture of Peters’s hand doing a “rock on” pose, and Akim showed his impressive “Game of Thrones” inspired artwork.

I really enjoyed both Poulard’s capstone project and Peters’ interview. They both illustrated the importance of using creativity for social change. I was really surprised by how controversial some ads about health were. It was really nice to share positive messages about health with each other. There was also a generous amount of some solid pizza served.

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