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Georgia Southern University capstone class explores Statesboro’s College Street and west side of downtown through creative scope

Georgia Southern University’s Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art presents a multimedia exhibition, exploring College Street and the west side of downtown Statesboro, by students in the undergraduate studio art capstone class. The exhibition is open to the public on April 29, 5-7 p.m. in the Foundations Drawing wing of the Visual Arts Building, rooms 2049 and 2050.

The inaugural B.A. capstone class partnered with the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority (DSDA) and Georgia Southern’s Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement. The DSDA has a well-communicated vision for the East and West Main Street sections of downtown, and has created visioning documents and artist renderings for the new Blue Mile segment of 301 South and South Main Street. The DSDA wanted to informally consider whether an additional downtown street may have potential as a student and arts-friendly area for future investment. College Street is contained within the county’s Tax Allocation District (TAD) making it an attractive area for business and residential development. Students in the B.A.capstone class were asked to use their creative skills to catalog and interpret the features and character of College Street and discover assets the DSDA can then work to optimize.

The character of College Street examined through art practice sheds light on the neighborhood’s buildings, lots, green spaces, occupants, history, politics and demographics. This semester, the B.A. capstone students explored College Street with an Asset-Based Community Development model in mind and expanded their study westward from College Street toward Lee’s Restaurant. College Street marks not only the western edge of the DSDA map and TAD but also marks the edge of an informal boundary between the east and west side of Statesboro.

“The students found this area engaging because of its welcoming inhabitants, visual textures, and unexpressed history,” said Professor Elsie Hill, M.F.A., assistant professor in the Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art.

The projects created by students this semester are animations, 3D modeling of architecture, photography, ceramic sculpture, poetry and graphic design. Susan Williams built a virtual tour using 3D tracking and video footage she shot in the area. Kimmi Tackett created an animation using footage taken in the home of a native of College Street who narrates some of her experiences growing up. Jonathan Simons and Morgan Best collaborated to create a photo-documentation and 3D model highlighting African-American businesses in the area. Kamiyah Franks photographed textures of Elm Street including the old Van Buren Hospital and nearby establishments no longer in use. Emily Oren created a ceramic sculpture representing Mother Earth and the division of land in the area. Andre’e James will be presenting poetry, which chronicles her personal experiences and wanderings around College Street and the west side. Kate Rokoczy has tied all of the projects together in a 64-page book which she has designed. The layout and preview of the book will be on display at the event and also will be available to order.   

The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) is the largest of the eight colleges that make up Georgia Southern University, and it plays a central role in every student’s core of knowledge. CLASS, also described as the University’s College of the Creative Mind, prepares students to achieve academic excellence, develop their analytical skills, enhance their creativity and embrace their responsibilities as citizens of their communities, their nations and the world. CLASS offers more than 20 undergraduate degrees and several interdisciplinary minors from its 11 departments and five academic centers. CLASS offers eight master’s degrees, two graduate certificates and one doctoral degree.  For more information, visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu/CLASS.

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