A Brief Reprieve by Alexandra Andrews: an inside view of SFCC

The assignment in the on-line fiction class was to go somewhere and sketch it in words. Student Alexandra Andrews really caught so much of campus I am posting it here. The Memoir classes also visited the courtyard, with an installation by Chrissie Orr–El Otro Lado/The Other Side.

The walls are the typical sterile off-white that some designer somewhere had decided was “neutral”. At least it isn’t that yellow-ivory color. The off white is almost pleasant. True white would have been so much more pleasing to the eye. Until you started to notice every smudge and fingerprint and scratch. Nah, off-white was best. Besides, it makes the print of Calla Lilies really pop out of it’s black background. Not all the artwork, well what was called artwork anyway, benefits from the “neutral” background. Posters, odd graphic arts, photographs, pop-art mixed media works, and collages all mixed with the occasional electric blue framed digital watercolors make for an interesting view. Regardless of whether or not you find any particular work impressive. Although I have never walked down this hallway or sat in this “lounge” and not found something I liked up on the walls.

That’s one thing this place has done right, showcased every students work of art who wants to show it. The campus is littered in a thousand different visions of art and interpretations. Here though, in this quiet sunlit area it’s all media arts of some form. The glass wall of windows to the right provides enough natural light that you almost forget there are buzzing florescent lights above. You can escape from your work for a moment simply by looking out that window. Trees, sky, smooth stucco short walls that encircle the true courtyard of the school are plainly seen. You could literally walk through the glass (if you were capable of such a thing of course) and walk right into that park-like retreat. Wooden tables that were somehow still comfortable housing students eating, reading, or just visiting. Funny how some schools never saw the benefit of adding nature and reprieve to their students curriculum. Or found it important to showcase the students, it’s always about the professors at other schools. Even out in the designed nature there is evidence of students and their journeys. Sculptures, or rather welded pieces of metal, adore the edges and journal/collage projects blown up to man height are staggered throughout the area. Tales of addiction overcome, dreams lost and realized, family built, and wanderings of students you’ll never know distract and inspire as people stop to read them. Useful. Every step, every little adornment has been thought out to be useful and yet somehow just came into being on it’s own. God bless students sharing real thoughts and personal expressions.

Even the interior seating was carefully thought out. From the textured poles to the smooth and modern bench/couches. Set in the middle of the “lounge” with space running all around them…like a little island oasis to sit at and relax in between the busy classes. The same off-white smooth of the walls, but adorned with comfortable, rich brown cushions…the back cushions with modern and yet somehow retro geometric patterns of brown, orange, red-orange, and lime green run the lengths of the two long benches facing each other and each of the four mini seats. Amazing how when you look at it closely it’s so busy and vibrant but from a slight distance it’s simply a slight pattern. The floor in this couch/bench area tried to mimic the back cushions, poorly, but again somehow blend. Running around the outside of this cafe-like lounge area are the tables. Some short, some tall, all with chairs in popping colors. Lime green, teal, neon orange and a single boring brown char. Pops of color that all mimic the cushion pattern and against the off-white walls makes the whole area feel like a starbucks minus the barista and endless supply of caffeine. There’s even a “cyber cafe” section against the far back wall with two computers for students who don’t have a laptop…or for when the upteenth time the college wireless isn’t working.

To the left the hallway continues both in front of and behind me, worn with a thousand feet walking a thousand steps to hundreds of different futures. Kids who dream of being graphic designers, middle aged office workers looking to move up, people of all ages chasing careers and dreams one step at a time. The carpeting cushions each footfall, turning it into another whisper of things to come that echo through this school. Faint sounds of students playing music, dancing, creating new solar power options, learning how to read blood pressure readings, reciting poetry, giving speeches about who the are and what they would do if they had a million dollars. Echos of bowls being used to create culinary delights….those whispers mingling with the scent of fresh baked bread…of new starts and new delights. Pride filling the corridors like a gentle pressure. How could you not strive to be proud of yourself here? Every aspect is designed to make you feel at home, comfortable, and able to achieve. Look, here are 40 pieces of work from your fellow students, in the same classes you are taking now. Look where you will be soon! Strive, achieve…and while you sit here relax, or work on homework, or play on facebook…your choice. But bring your own coffee.

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