Dada on the Hill

January 14, 2013

Their classmates may be visiting the Parthenon and remnants of the Berlin wall, but Dada is taking a group of McDaniel students on a virtual journey to a different era devoid of rules, limitations and even standards.

Begun in Europe in 1916 as a protest to World War I, Dada included poetry, theatre, literature, art and even thoughts and gatherings. It embraced the absurd and reveled in the nonsensical.

“Artists articulated themselves in any way they saw fit without limitations,” says adjunct lecturer Emily Grey. Among the many outrageous images are Marcel Duchamp’s “Mona Lisa” with a mustache and his “sculpture,” Fountain, which was actually a urinal.

A staunch believer in experiential learning, Grey has had her students mimic the Dadaists by making collages out of magazine images and decorate all the walls in her Peterson classroom with abstract drawings inspired by dissonant Dada sound poetry. Although the gamut of majors is represented among her students, each is finding an affinity with the non-art form that was pivotal to modern and contemporary art.

Political Science majors relish the protest aspects of Dada. The Psychology-Neuroscience major sorts through claims that Dadaists were mentally disturbed. Business Administration majors look at the business potential, and the Graphic Design major knows that Dada influenced his craft. The Sociology student exercises her skills of understanding different people.

Each defines it in on their own terms. And none, in this rule-free movement, can be wrong.

Youanidou Thiaw ’15 and Serena Hueitt ’15: “Dada is intuitive nonsense.”

Dani Allen ’13: “Dada is every idea given value.”

Matt Gillen ’13: Dada was the emotional response to WWI where people were able to be completely free and really enter into their artistic talents.”

Cari Sledzik ’15: “Dada glorifies absurdism, in all forms.”

Tyler Holland ’14: “Dada was this artistic idea of embracing the absurd and rejecting rationality.”

Dada collage by Tyler Holland '14
Dada collage by Tyler Holland '14

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