By Sawyer Pollitt, Staff Writer
A new academic year always brings changes. There’s new classes, new teachers, new friends, and new challenges. However, this year at UMass Dartmouth there is also a new organization on campus that has been making big waves.
Many people walking around campus are sure to have noticed the Center for Undisciplined Research’s name and logo on flyers, posters, and installations but have no idea what the center actually is, what they do, and who’s involved.
Planned to be a nine-month project based out of UMass Dartmouth, the Center for Undisciplined Research is a multifaceted group that has successfully put on several exhibitions and is carrying out several ongoing initiatives across campus and beyond.
The program was founded and is currently being directed by Roz Crews. She is an artist in residence here at UMass Dartmouth who is normally based out of Portland, Oregon. As the founder of this organization she was able to offer some insight into the goals of the Center.
In her words, “The Center is about freely experimenting, questioning the many ways of learning about a topic, asking questions, failing publicly, exercising our right to assemble in honor of curiosity, trying out new forms of art making, putting art in public places, collaboration, and community building.” She continued to explain that the plan was uniquely created for the community and culture of UMass Dartmouth. “I knew I needed to create a conceptual framework for a project that students, faculty, staff, and local people would be able to contribute to in meaningful ways—the framework needed to be something understandable yet mutable.”
The Center for Undisciplined Research has also reached beyond the confines of UMass Dartmouth and has partnered with the New Bedford Art Museum and museum curator Jamie Uretsky on several occasions. Most recently, they organized a “Doggy Drive” where around twenty dog owners and dogs took off from the museum in downtown New Bedford and let the dogs lead the way.
Besides working with the museum, the Center is also currently looking to set up a piece of student created public art to be displayed on campus. To achieve this, they are working with the Student Government Association.
One thing that has been made clear by the Center is that they are able to accomplish what they do not through the actions of one person, but through the combined efforts of all involved. The student volunteers include: Taylor Maroney, Jillian Ratcliffe, Adeline Thibeault, Amanda Leeland, Jesse Sullivan, James J. Tooker, Lauren, Brian Towne, Armani Marquez-Chaves, Rebecca Hope, Ben Urdi, Gina Pantalone, Rachael Abrantes, Mark Kayanja, Pat Nee, Dylan Podesta, Nicole Winning, and Zachary Sass. Non-students and faculty include: Roz Crews, Nicole Lavelle, Daniel W. Everton, Ellen Mueller, Brittini Ann Harvey, Dena Haden, Jason Loete, Megan Abajian, Rebecca Uchill, and Harrell Fletcher.
A notable and quirky feature of the Center is that everyone involved is given the ability to choose their own title. This goes along with the mission of the organization and empowers the volunteers to not be defined by their own lack of formal education and allows them to play on what they themselves perceive to be their strengths. These titles range from Armani Marquez-Chaves’ “Brainstormer” all the way to Brian Towne’s “Director of the student art project and undisciplined liaison to underachivement.”
Very few organizations on campus are able to start as a virtual unknown and become a powerhouse in only two semesters of existence but the Center for Undisciplined Research manages to do just that.