Creative students take dorm decor to a new level
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Wandering into Dana 212 feels a little like walking into a nightclub--the room's graffiti-covered walls convey an urban metro vibe. The residents of this five-man have taken their suite to a whole new level, making typical poster-filled dorms pale in comparison. Juniors Eddie Benjamin, Pat Burns, Toreyan Clarke, Dave Havlicek and Ben Oakes (residents of the self-declared "handsomest room on campus") have gone to great lengths to, as Oakes puts it, "really make our room ours."
This fivesome met their freshman year when they all lived in the same hallway in Dana. Oakes and Clarke, who were friends long before coming to the College, found themselves paired up with Benjamin and Havlicek, respectively, with Burns just down the hall.
This year, the group was thrilled to snag a suite together, and they were determined to make it their own. Thus, a plan was hatched to cover the walls in graffiti.
"We really wanted the room to reflect us, be a place to express ourselves. To live but also enjoy ourselves," Oakes says when asked about the inspiration for the project. Both he and Havlicek stressed their desire to make the room more comfortable than a plain dorm room with cold, white walls. "It's tough in a five-man," Oakes says of the suite with its long, narrow hallway. He is determined not to let his prized room be another "boring, normal, sterile Dana five-man." The friends have certainly succeeded; the walls are anything but boring, normal or sterile.
An impressive array of spray-painted, stenciled and oil-painted designs crowd the walls--all of which were created freehand. A wall of spray-painted initials pays tribute to friends, and a stencil of Miller Library reflects school spirit. The words "the good life" are painted across a wall in Greek alongside a large depiction of Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi engaged in a light-saber battle. A wall of album art features Pink Floyd, Gorillaz, Bob Marley, the Rolling Stones, Blink-182 and more.
Rather than tacking up the pop culture posters typical of a college dorm room, the roommates painted characters like Mario, Tyler Durden from Fight Club and Agent Smith from The Matrix. Burns indicates his favorite design, "Towelie," the talking towel from South Park. It was Burns' greatest undertaking, a mixture of oil and spray paints.
Although the roommates have varying degrees of experience in art, all contributed to the extensive project. Burns, an art major, was responsible for much of the painting, while Oakes focused on freehand spray-painting and Benjamin took charge of stenciling. At first, friends and visitors contributed, but the results were not always ideal. "Spray paint takes practice. People don't realize that," Havlicek says. Oakes adds that patience and skill are needed to avoid drips.
Oakes' art experience lies mostly in three-dimensional art. Though he worked with pottery and sculpture in high school, at the College he spends most of his time dedicated to his neurobiology and philosophy majors while also fulfilling pre-med requirements. Havlicek has taken a photography class, but is also a neurobiology major on the pre-med track. Clarke studies government and sings with the Blue Lights, and Benjamin is a philosophy major and administrative science minor who is a dedicated beat boxer in the Megs. Burns, the resident art major, notes that he has the most fun with print-making and finds his current painting class with Associate Professor and Chair of Art Bevin Engman his most challenging medium yet. Outside of the studio he spends much of his time on the football field.
Burns, Oakes and Havlicek all emphasize that their room is a "work in progress," an "ongoing mural, always changing and fluctuating," as Oakes puts it. "We'll fill in white spaces and cover old stuff," Burns says, and Oakes adds that the room will "constantly evolve, representing themselves." New additions are sometimes planned and sketched first, but more often go up sporadically when these five busy students find free time. When asked what will happen at the end of the year, the boys look disheartened. "I mean, we're definitely painting it back," Oakes says, "but it'll be sad." "We'll take a lot of photos first," Burns says.
The multihued room will be white and sterile once more, but the roommates will take a lot of colorful memories with them--and will certainly leave some big shoes for future residents of "the two-one-two" to fill.