Collaborative Community

Asked how she could help her community, associate professor of scenic design Shannon Robert, came up with a simple idea that soon turned a group of virtual strangers into a small community.

On a normal day, the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts is alive with theatrical productions, music concerts and other cultural opportunities for students, faculty, alumni and community members. Last spring, with the industry shut down for people’s safety, Robert was one of the many people who brainstormed program ideas to help keep the community connected and engaged during this time. Her idea stemmed from studios that offer wine and paint nights.

Initially, Robert’s first Tuesday night paint night on April 21 began with current students but its success led to its expansion to the Brooks Center audience after an invite was sent out. Every Tuesday since, Robert has stationed her laptop in front of her home workspace and taught virtual class members how to create different works of art. Participants range in age from 12 to 80 and from student to faculty to alumni to Tiger fan.

Robert’s goal was to lead group painting sessions that were quick and relatively easy for those of any skill level. Robert said, “It became clear that people want to continue doing this, so I think we can probably learn something along the way.” She began to incorporate mini lessons on things like cubism, scumbling or impressionism. She also wanted to teach participants about the value of painting and to not be afraid — to just do it. Robert recognizes that most people are fearful to show their work or even begin painting because they worry it won’t look good. However, she reminds people that after sitting down to a first piano lesson, no one will walk away playing like Horowitz. She described it as “a process” and told the group to “just enjoy where you are in the process, and don’t be afraid. You have to be fearless when you are creating.”

Eventually, the Tuesday-night painting group turned into a small community of regulars who began to connect with each other, despite the virtual distance. Robert compared it to a quilting group, a fun space where people can sit around to chat and catch up. “I have bonded with so many of these people,” she said. “We talk about recipes, movies, television shows and music. It’s really nice to see everyone having conversations with people they would usually never talk to.”

There were, of course, challenges along the way. Most stores were shut down or, at the very least, limiting hours. Participants had to get creative with the materials they used and where they got them. Some had limited funds to buy the paint, paint brushes, canvases and palettes necessary. Robert also described figuring out the angle to position her camera as a learning curve. She wanted to be sure everyone could see what she was painting in as much detail as she could. Her paint-splattered laptop is proof of her dedication to making these nights as doable and fun as possible.

As the weeks went on, an idea began to emerge. With the number of regulars the meetings were soon beginning to have, Robert thought a collaborative project would be easy to accomplish. She painted a piece and cut it into 16 parts to send to 16 contributors. Each person would have no idea what the painting looked like as a whole, nor how their piece would incorporate into the final. Their task was to replicate their section as accurately as they could, in whatever medium they desired. The contributors ended up using charcoal, oil pastels, acrylic and latex to complete their sections.

The decision to create the piece in black and white was a practical one. Robert knew not everyone might have a color printer, and she knew painting in white and shades of black would be easier to color match for new painters. Painters completed their sections on their own or with the help of friends and family members. Robert said the message behind the piece is harmony. The work pays homage to the different disciplines within the Brooks Center in a way that “lifts them up and is aesthetically pleasing.” It contains a dancer, a light technician, a singer, a musician, and an actor — each performing. Robert wanted students who are studying in the building to look at the mural and “see themselves or see something that they connect with or relate to.”

After two joint paint sessions, the mural pieces were complete and ready to be displayed in their new home: the Brooks Center. Robert described the collaboration as a gift from each one of the contributors. They bought their own materials and gave up their time to produce something meaningful and beautiful that can now be shared with the whole Clemson community.

As difficult as these times are and have been, the shining light through it all has been people’s willingness to look out for each other while remaining connected and positive.

 

 

 

Alumni News

Virtual Engagement

Need a new Zoom background? The Alumni Association is offering downloadable campus photos on their virtual engagement page to keep your Monday meetings interesting and keep you more connected to Clemson. And the virtual opportunities don’t stop there.

Explore painting classes, read alouds of children’s books, dance breaks with DJ Sha, question-and-answer sessions with alumni and Clemson experts on topics ranging from NASCAR to the economic impacts of the pandemic, and more. The Alumni Association has also listed online resources available to alumni, including an online job search and online mentorship opportunities.

 

Affinity Groups Update

On the Alumni Association’s contact update form, alumni can now self-identify with various affinity groups they’d like to be part of, including the Hispanic & Latinx Alumni Council, the Women’s Alumni Council, the LGBTQ+ Alumni Council and the Black Alumni Council. Visit alumni.clemson.edu/contactupdate to access the form.

 

Made to Order

This spring, bright orange signs emblazoned with “Tigertown Bound Class of ’24” could be seen in front yards all over the state and country. It’s a proud moment for future students and their families, showing their neighbors and friends where they’re going to college.

Normally, the Alumni Association provides these signs for student send-off parties and other events. COVID-19 made that impossible this year, so the Alumni Association created an online order form at signs.com/tigertown-bound, where students can order their own signs and enjoy the tradition.

 

2020 Welcome Back Festival Canceled

For the last 35 years, the Alumni Association and the Student Alumni Council have sponsored the Welcome Back Festival in downtown Clemson, with local vendors offering a variety of merchandise and food. The event raises approximately $18,000 each year for student scholarships through the Student Alumni Council Scholarship Endowment Fund.

Due to COVID-19, the Alumni Association and the Student Alumni Council made the difficult decision to postpone this year’s Welcome Back Festival in the hope of hosting a similar event in the spring of 2021.

To support the Student Alumni Council Scholarship Endowment Fund, visit iamatiger.clemson.edu/giving and use the “Search for a Fund” feature to search “Student Alumni Council (S.A.C.) Scholarship Endowment.” A gift of any amount can make a difference in the lives of Clemson students.

Ring Story: Double Trouble

Frank Hammond '83

Frank Hammond ’83 lost not one but two Clemson class rings. He tells the strange story of how they were both recovered:

Due at least partially to the shock that I was (seemingly) going to graduate in 1982, my parents offered to buy me a Clemson ring. Much to their disappointment, I took a victory lap but did graduate in ’83. I proceeded to lose the ’82 ring in 1986 on a business trip in Columbia, and they were even more kind to purchase a replacement.

Flash forward to the summer of 2006 on an island in Lake Hartwell. I was with my family, throwing the ball for the Lab, and felt the ring come off, making a nice soft splash some distance offshore. With no luck finding it and figuring two was probably my limit anyway, I resigned myself to moving forward without my Clemson ring.

That is until about a month later when my home phone rang, asking if I was the Frank Hammond that graduated from Clemson in ’83. Affirming that it was indeed me, the caller relayed he had seen something shiny while recently fishing on Hartwell and dove down to retrieve what turned out to be my ring. He was a Clemson grad as well and mailed it back to me, politely refusing any reward. I considered myself more than fortunate to have lost two rings and actually gotten one back, though some nine years later, the story takes an even odder twist.

While sitting at my desk in 2015, my phone rings with that same question, asking for a Frank Hammond who graduated in ’82. The caller said she was looking at my ring, which turned out to be the first one I’d lost. It had been missing for almost 30 years. She was the manager of an assisted living facility in North Carolina, and one of their residents, who could no longer speak, had given it to her the day before with no further explanation of how she came to have it.

“What’s the story?” I asked the manager.

“I don’t know,” she replied. “She just handed it to me.”

Honorary Alumni

The Clemson Alumni Association recently named three honorary alumni:

HonoraryAlum_CandiceGlenn

Candi Glenn is one of Clemson’s most well-known volunteer student recruiters in Texas. Glenn and her husband, Gerald ’64, have supported Clemson through the Glenn Department of Civil Engineering and as an Athletic Cornerstone partner through the Gerald and Candice Glenn Family Unrestricted Endowment for Clemson Athletics.

Jacqueline Reynolds, who married into the Clemson Family, has shown a lifelong commitment to the University through the Jacqueline Morrow Reynolds Endowment for Music in the performing arts department and a devotion to historic preservation as the president of the board of trustees for the Pendleton Historic Foundation. She established the Jacqueline M. Reynolds Conservation Endowment for Fort Hill to ensure its conservation. This endowment has since expanded to the Hanover House, Hopewell and the Trustee House.

HonoraryAlum_TerryDonPhillips

Terry Don Phillips, who served as Clemson’s director of athletics from 2002-12, was recognized as an honorary alum on Aug. 22, 2019. Known as the athletics director who “gave Dabo a chance,” Phillips is considered by many to be, as former vice president of advancement Neill Cameron stated in his letter of recommendation, “a person who is ‘just Clemson.’”

Alumni News

100th Gameday

Clemson parent Mark Baxter volunteered to fly the flags at College GameDay on Sept. 7, 2019, in Austin, Texas.

100 GameDays On Oct. 12, 2019, the Tiger Paw and Clemson alumni flags traveled to Baton Rouge, La., for LSU’s matchup against Florida. This marked the flags’ 100th consecutive ESPN College GameDay appearance, thanks to the tireless efforts of alumni and fans and the coordination of the Alumni Association. The streak began in 2013 when GameDay came to Clemson for the season opener against Georgia.

Meal Clubs The Greenville Luncheon Club, Hub City Friends of Clemson in Spartanburg, the Second Century Society in Columbia, and Clemson in the Lowcountry in Charleston meet several times throughout the school year for fellowship and networking. These meal clubs host a featured speaker at each meeting. More info

Orange Shoe Event The Women’s Alumni Council held its first Orange Shoe Event at the Madren Conference Center, which included a silent auction benefiting the Clemson WAC Scholarship and appearances by the Tiger and DJ Sha. The 100 attendees, clad in orange shoes, enjoyed dinner, drinks and dancing. More info

Launch of Hispanic Latinx Alumni Council The Clemson Alumni Association Board of Directors approved the launch of the Hispanic Latinx Alumni Council in September 2019.

Fall Band Party The Clemson Young Alumni Council and Alumni Association held their eighth annual Fall Band Party on Sept. 6, 2019, at Swansons Warehouse in Greenville — the night before the Texas A&M game. Partygoers enjoyed a performance by the Midnight City Band as well as a raffle and silent auction. In all, $12,650 were raised for the Spirit of Greenville nonprofit and the Clemson Alumni Scholarship Endowment. More info