It’s a mid-November night at the Ronj, the student-run cafe in Ross House on Frye Street, and in one part of the homey space, students are draped across couches and splayed out in chairs, sipping tea, munching on snacks, while they study, relax, and just hang out.

In another part of the house, in a performance space known as the Thunderdome, the furniture has been shoved to the perimeter, creating an open area for an evening of visual art.

At the ready are watercolor paint kits, cups of water, and lots of paint brushes, and the students, around 20 of them, quickly get going. Over here, a student paints a tree in late autumn. Over there, another creates a fantasy garden, and another makes a rainbow, all conjured from the mind’s eye or pulled from a smartphone. 

Watercolors and ThanksWatercolors and writing thank you notes to those who are special to us!WhenMonday, November 14th, 20227:00pm (until 8:30pm)WhereRoss House, The Ronj Coffee House 100 - ThunderdomeFor More InformationRaymond Clothier (Multifaith Chaplaincy)rclothie@bates.edu
Deep concentration on a painting provides a break from studying stress, as colorful blobs, an orange haze, or bananas are painted onto the cards. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

There’s no instruction and no still-life subject to sketch, just one goal: Create a piece of art for someone you care about. The students are making watercolor postcards, which, when finished, will be mailed to a loved one along with hand-written words of gratitude from the sender.

The idea for the event came from Phoebe Stern ’24, a religious studies major from Nashville, Tenn. As the student arts and spirituality coordinator for the Multifaith Chaplaincy, she wanted to create a time and a space before Thanksgiving for students to “take a deep breath and ask, ‘Who are the people in my life who have really impacted me? And who made a change? How can I give back to them?’”

In this case, giving back means giving a bit of one’s self, “something tangible,” Stern says, “whatever art you’re feeling, and that can be just drawing a very abstract piece or like drawing some trees or mountains, but whatever you want.”

(Isabella Phillips ’23 of Durham, N.C.
Alana Margerum ’23 of Wyncote, Pa.) together painting


Watercolors and Thanks
Watercolors and writing thank you notes to those who are special to us!
When
Monday, November 14th, 2022
7:00pm (until 8:30pm)

Where
Ross House, The Ronj Coffee House 100 - Thunderdome

For More Information
Raymond Clothier (Multifaith Chaplaincy)
rclothie@bates.edu
From left, Alana Margerum ’23 of Wyncote, Pa., and Isabella Phillips ’23 of Durham, N.C., work together on their paintings; Margerum is painting a detailed, lush garden scene, and Phillips is mimicking a botanical-illustration style with different kinds of flowers. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

First-year students Audrey Esteves ’26 of Cranford, N.J., and Riley Baker ’26 of Northfield, Ill., are creating postcards to send to friends from high school as a little “hello” before they reunite during the holiday break. Before long, the two will head across the street to WRBC, the Bates student radio studio, where Baker co-hosts a music-and-chat show, Gin and Toxic.

Maddy Ewell ’24, a neuroscience major from Ridgewood, N.J., is using the time to stretch one creative muscle and give another a break. For her English class, “Early Modern Sex and Sexuality,” taught by Assistant Professor of English Katie Adkison, she’s composing a musical score as her final paper. 

Watercolors and Thanks
Watercolors and writing thank you notes to those who are special to us!
When
Monday, November 14th, 2022
7:00pm (until 8:30pm)

Where
Ross House, The Ronj Coffee House 100 - Thunderdome

For More Information
Raymond Clothier (Multifaith Chaplaincy)
rclothie@bates.edu
Mikayla Burse ’26 of Rumford, Maine, paints a watercolor rainbow on her postcard, and begins to add a bright yellow sun in the corner. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

The class has read Shakespeares’s As You Like It, whose opening scene, in the forest of Arden, presents a “mystical land of make believe, a fantastical environment.” For the final assignment, Ewell challenged herself to express the scene through classical music — a genre she hasn’t composed for before, though she loves composing and playing jazz. 

And she has the chops for it. An accomplished violinist, Ewell is the founder and president of the student Small Ensembles Club. Creating the score has been “difficult but fun,” she says. “I’m exploring what I can do with music.” (Last spring, she and fellow club member Riley Gramley ’25 performed classical music for the canine residents of the local animal shelter.)

Riley Baker ’26 of Northfield, Ill., painting tree watercolor and cookiesWatercolors and ThanksWatercolors and writing thank you notes to those who are special to us!WhenMonday, November 14th, 20227:00pm (until 8:30pm)WhereRoss House, The Ronj Coffee House 100 - ThunderdomeFor More InformationRaymond Clothier (Multifaith Chaplaincy)rclothie@bates.edu
Riley Baker ’26 of Northfield, Ill., paints a tree and colorful leaves strewn on the ground. The autumn theme pairs nicely with the treats provided: an assortment of cookies. “I was just kind of thinking of like one of the easier things to watercolor around campus, and so I thought about the tree by the library,” Baker said. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

For Stern, the event organizer, experiencing the Ronj for the first time fit perfectly with the vibe she hoped to create, a getaway from “the stresses of the rest of campus, like we’re just coming together and making some art, eating some cookies, drinking some chai and talking and laughing.

“That’s what the space is.”

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