In my quest to gather stories from Arts & Communication’s past I’ve been fortunate to meet and correspond with a number of amazing alumni, fabulous former staff members, and folks whose paths have led through the C.E. Mason building over the past seventy years. Digging around some storage rooms on campus, a campus that is slated for demolition this summer (only to rise again like a Phoenix in the fall of 2021), I’ve found old yearbooks, VHS tapes, some CDs, and DVDs of what the world at ACMA was like back in the day.
I think my favorites are the most antiquated: the browning paper of the photo albums from the 1990s; the old issues of the student newspaper, The Savant; and the cache of slides, at least two batches from the middle part of the 1990s.
A few weeks ago some intrepid students located an old slide projector, loaded up the single carousel we could find, and took a photo off the wall in my office for journey back to Arts & Communication High School circa 1994.
The trip was fantastic.
It was so fun, in fact, that I took the show on the road and shared the images with current students during a couple of lunches.
They dug it, marveling at the walls of their school not yet covered by murals, noticing fashions of the time, and laughing at the faces so much like their own. We didn’t have lots of context; we didn’t know who everyone was for example, so the unifying elements were campus, creativity, and the universally teenage expressions of artistic youth.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, this slideshow was mid-90s Dickens novel.
We’ll work on capturing a higher quality version of the slideshow we can share online, but in the meantime I wanted to make something available right now. So…
I did something as simple as turning a camera toward the wall, putting a little music on the hi-fi, and letting the slide carousel turn in it’s 20th century way. It’s not high tech or polished, not the kind of official presentation you might see in the corporate world, heck, a couple of slides are in backward, but our school has never been constrained by conventionality or burdened by patience.
Click on the slide here and take a peek, if you’d like!
I love seeing the faces in this show and knowing that our school was their school, and their A&C shares many of the good qualities I’m proud to see in ACMA today. While the world changes, and schools do too, there is something both familiar and inspiring in these photographs.
On February 1st we’re going to open our Quonset Hut (or “Cafegymnatorium” as one alum called it with a smile) for alumni to come to campus and share stories. This won’t be a formal affair; we really just want to provide an opportunity for folks who love this school to come back and spend some time together. On that night some of our current students will try to capture (on film, sound recordings, or interviews) some of the stories that help to make up our collective history. I’ll do my best to have some slideshows then, as well as some other photos and memory prompters from our school’s history.
As ACMA looks ahead at a bright future for the artists and free spirits who do and will call our little school home, it’s important to look back at the stories of those founding mothers and fathers on whose shoulders we stand. Some of those stories captured on little squares of cardboard and plastic.
Our Artsy Alumni gathering will take place on February 1, 2019 from 6:00-8:00 pm in the “Cafegymnatorium.” We welcome A&C and ACMA students and staff from any years of our school’s history, and look forward to some laughter, stories, and maybe even a little art. (And yes, I’ll walk you through the school, so you can see the murals, wainscoting, and smell that C.E. Mason old school smell one more time!)