Public Art Class holds Mini-Regatta

Students in the Public Art class assist by untangling the wires of a bamboo boat
Students in the Public Art class assist by untangling the wires of a bamboo boat Photo Credit: Ben Cohen ‘22

Associate Professor of Art, Kelly Goff, and his Public Art class hosted a two-part boat regatta on Saturday and Monday of this week on Peacock Pond as a part of the course. The regatta contained 5 boats made out of bamboo created by the course’s students and a pulley system created by Goff that was tethered to the ground by a metal pipe. A larger boat was also borrowed from Wheaton’s grounds department that could hold two people and by untangling wires and other similar tasks.

During the first day, the event lasted from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., with many onlookers in attendance, including students’ parents and friends, and even a dog. One such onlooker, Jeanne Bedard ’22 thought the boats’ material being “made of natural elements” was “really interesting” and praised some of the boats for looking “really aerodynamic.” Three out of the five boats in attendance were successful in making their way across the pond that first day.

One of the students, Eliza Trevor ’22 stated that the event was “really fun” even though her boat fell over during the first two tries. Violet Windham’s ’22 boat was the first to make it across the pond and said that her team “learned a lot about balance” in their construction efforts. Sofie Weston ’22, the other member of Windham’s team, called the creation process a “team effort.”

During the second day, the teams competed in a synchronous boat race from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Weston described the event as “a substitution for the [Head of the] Peacock Race,” which is unlikely to occur this year. This time, four out of the five boats were able to make it across the pond.

The process by which the students decided on this event was described by Goff as a “remarkable brainstorm session,” with the whole process “from conception to realization” taking only two weeks. Goff said that he selected the pond as a public art site because it is “a contained site” with “discrete borders” and described choosing public art as “important.” Goff noted that he was trying to “do as much outdoors as possible” due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and mentioned another one of his courses, 3D Design, as creating art displays outdoors this semester.

 This display is the third this semester, with the Public Art class exhibiting snow sculptures near the start of the semester and ice sculptures near the library last week. Goff said that the next display would be “large, inflatable sculptures,” with students in the course saying that they would likely be placed on upper campus near heavily trafficked areas.