The Voice: Summer 2002

The Voice

Students saturate themselves in art for a weekend

By Andrew De Jong

First year students Lindsey De Jong, Andrea Van Wyk, Beka Schreur, and Sara Prins did more than observe sculptures in the Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center in MinneapolisIn early April, nearly ninety Dordt students spent a weekend in Minneapolis, listening to classical music, seeing a foreign film, watching a play, looking at different works of art, and discussing the arts. These students weren’t art majors; in fact, some of them admit they aren’t even “into” art. They were part of a class called Gen 200: Introduction to the Arts, a required course for all Dordt students.

According to Theatre Arts Professor Simon du Toit, one of the teachers of the class, “We’re trying to help Dordt grow into a community that appreciates the arts.” He admits that often class time isn’t enough, which is why he approached the board in 1995 with the proposal for a weekend class trip to Minneapolis for the students in Gen 200.

“Over the years,” says du Toit, “we’ve gained more financial support from the board.”
When it first began in 1995, many students could not go because the cost of the trip was too high, but this year, over half of the students in the class were able to go due to a lowered cost.

In this semester’s Friday night and Saturday trip, students saw a performance of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, a foreign film at the historic Heights Theater, a performance of the Greek tragedy Medea at the Theatre de la Jeune Leune, and various works of art at the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Art Institute.

“Students had the opportunity to be ex-posed to artworks at a different level,” says du Toit.

But how have students responded? Du Toit admits that the response has varied from one trip to the next, but this semester, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Sonja Eenigenburg, a freshman from Chicago Heights, Illinois, values her experience on the trip. “It was great to be able to do so much in such a small amount of time,” she says. “Even the events that I wasn’t excited about turned out to be really stimulating.”

Some students found themselves applying concepts learned in class to their experiences on the trip. Eenigenburg says her study of theater helped her pay more attention to stage layout and characterization in Medea.

Janean Swager, a freshman from Sunnyside, Washington, found that her new knowledge of music came in handy. “I think I was able to listen more carefully to the orchestra because I was listening for different elements in the music,” she says.

Students in Gen 200 aren’t just learning to appreciate art, says du Toit. He hopes they are learning to engage art as Christians as well.

“If they leave class hating theater, I don’t care,” says du Toit, “but if they leave knowing that they have a Christian responsibility to engage culture, so much the better.”