Dazzling Door Decorations: A Tour of Dormitory Artwork
Published: Saturday, November 6, 2010
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 01:11
Everyone knows that first impressions are important, and maybe that's why some Kenyon students go to such trouble to decorate their dorm room doors. The door is the first impression visitors receive of the person residing within, and if their doors are any indication, there are some interesting people living here at Kenyon.
Stuart Giles '14 said, "I don't like having my name on the door." Instead, he likes "having something that says something about my personality," he said. "If you put things you like on your door, people will find out more about you. They're sort of like an advance warning." To this end, Giles has selected three works of art to adorn his door, all drawn by friends of his who have made a habit of designing decorations for him. They include a rendering of 16 sheep against a light blue background, a sketch of a unicorn against a bed of text which self-referentially explains the origin of the unicorn drawing and a poster admonishing the singer Billy Joel that "there are other colors too, Billy" that he could have included in his song "Shades of Gray."
Giles' fellow Gund resident Rachel Bishop '14 has affixed a political bumper sticker to her door. Bishop, who hails from suburban Atlanta, said, "I like to support Georgia politics even when I'm not home" as rationale for her Roy Barnes sticker, who is the Democratic candidate for governor in the state.
Many Leonard Hall doors feature Community Advisor (CA)-designed film-themed decorations, with each resident represented by a quote and photo from a different Hollywood film. Kevin Ye '13 has the quote "This is Sparta!" from the popular film 300. "It's a nice touch to make the dorm a little more interesting," Ye said. Other rooms on the second and third floors of Leonard feature films including A Few Good Men and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. In contrast, first-floor doors in Leonard are embellished with World Cup-themed posters, and the common area features a bulletin board depicting the history of the vuvuzela.
Across Middle Path from Leonard, Hanna Hall's residents are represented by a series of posters featuring different historical figures, seemingly arranged in no particular order. Featured writers and thinkers include Karl Marx, Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud, and each poster features a photo and a helpful paragraph about its subject.
In Farr Hall, Emma Novins '11 has chosen to decorate her door with reminders of her home in Cornwall, Vt. It features a New Yorker cover that, Novins said, "shows Vermont tourism planes that are painting the trees in the fall," a whimsical take on the state's famous autumn foliage. Novins also has bumper stickers on her door that express her interests in skiing, running and local food.
Back in Gund Hall, CA Quentin Karpilow '12 has decorated his hallway and first years' doors and hallway with images and quotes from famous comedians, such as George Carlin and Woody Allen. "Humor is the best way to make people feel welcomed … and everyone likes a good laugh," Karpilow said.
At the New Apartments, nestled deep within the woods, another CA, Jen Brown '12, has decorated the doors of her residents with album covers. "I emailed all of my residents over the summer and asked for favorite bands or a favorite song, and … [used] a picture of the album cover as everyone's door decoration," Brown said. For residents who failed to respond, Brown got creative: "I took their birthday and I looked up the number-one album on the charts the week they were born, and then I put that album cover on their door decoration, so that's why some people that don't really like Mariah Carey have those fun '80s decorations." Brown said she believes that the decorations, which feature artists such as Lady Gaga, The Shins and Jack's Mannequin, Brown's band of choice, have helped her residents to get to know each other better through their musical tastes.
Speaking of taste, Caples Residence Hall, on the north side of campus, offers a nutritious theme on its first three floors: breakfast cereals. The doors are adorned with boxes for breakfast cereals old and new, including many bygone brands such as "Crunchy Nuggets" and "Wackies." To brighten up the main Caples lounge, a handmade sign asserts: "Caples is Frosted Flakes … it's more than good - it's grrreat!" Still, the most exciting Caples decoration is not found in its hallways but in its notoriously unreliable elevator, which is painted with undersea scenes. The cheerful mural includes characters such as Marcel the Octopus and a school of orange fish. It's good to know that students will at least have several happy undersea companions during those inevitable times when the elevator gets stuck.
Recently, first years participated in a door decoration competition. Housing and Residential Life provided art supplies, and on Wednesday, Oct. 20, a panel of judges, including students, College staff and faculty members, selected winners in several categories, including Kenyon Pride, Most Creative, Most Inspirational, Best Story and Most Resourceful. These winners received $100 prizes. The "Most Resourceful" winners were residents Benjamin Kress '14 and Robbie Sellers '14 of Gund 111, whose door prominently features a protruding three-dimensional unicorn with a lighted horn. "Kenyon Pride" went to the residents in Lewis rooms 101-109, whose doors collectively tell the story of two Kenyon students named Philander and Hannah who end up falling in love and eventually getting married in the chapel. Upstairs, Darci Marcum '14 decorated her Lewis 214 door with quotes from famous people, such as Thoreau's "The universe is wider than our views of it," winning her the "Most Inspirational" prize. Across campus in Mather, "Best Story" went to Anna Yie '14 and Kathryn Krinsman '14 of Room 205 for their door featuring a modern take on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Finally, Caroline Hesse '14 and Kelsey Vogt '14 won the "Most Creative" award, for their Mather 201 door featuring a rendering of Middle Path bedecked with leaves and other natural materials.