Libby Chriswell Contributing Writer
Even in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, the School of the Arts Diversity Series and its events have thrived on Samford’s campus this semester.
According to current Diversity Series committee member and senior studio art major, Emily Kent, the original idea for the series was created two years ago by several Samford students who wanted to share art that promoted messages of diversity with Samford and the Birmingham community. When their season was cut short by COVID-19, Kent said that she was asked to be one of the six arts students to carry on the series as part of the new committee.
“I have a passion for sharing important messages and ministries, especially subjects that people are afraid of or uncomfortable talking about,” Kent said. “We were to spearhead a season that hopefully would set the precedent for future committee members and for the Samford community to see what we were really about — sharing diversity and awareness through creating and engaging in music, theatre and art.”
One of the Diversity Series events held this semester was an art installation by senior studio art major, Trent Carruth, who said he felt drawn to participating in the series through an idea he had to portray humanity through a different, often overlooked kind of diversity: neurodiversity.
“As a person with Asperger Syndrome, I found this to be an important issue that I relate to very much and that I could use the Diversity Series to address,” Carruth said. “While discussing mental health is becoming a less taboo topic as time goes on, it’s important to help continue that conversation.”
Carruth also said that he hopes his show gave those who struggle with their mental health an opportunity to share their stories, and that his work inspired others to believe that mental health is not something people need to fear discussing.
Another recent Diversity Series event was a recital called “Songs of the Soul: An Evening of Music by African-American Composers,” performed by Christopher Jordan on baritone, and Cindy St. Clair, Samford’s Interim Chair of the Division of Music and Assistant Professor of Piano.
St. Clair said that their purpose in performing the recital was to bring awareness to composers and music that are not always included in the standard repertoire.
“This music was born out of a lot of struggle and hardship, but you can always find this light and this truth and this hope in the music, and we thought that with everything going on, it was very timely,” she said. “We’re really thankful to the Diversity Series for sponsoring it.”