I walked out the door, hopped on my bike and braced myself for the long ride to Stanford’s edge — Cantor Arts Center. Peddling closer and closer, I heard music radiating from Party On the Edge. Once I reached a fair distance, I parked my bike a block away and passed by the Rodin sculptures that lurked in their dimly lit, shadow-covered garden. Once past the garden, I traipsed through the metal graveyard made up of carelessly strewn bikes. Students came from far and wide to experience a different type of party on Thursday night.
As I reached the entrance, shimmering steel pan drums greeted me with the melodies of Cardinal Calypso. Next, a wave of heat over across my face and fingers, defrosting them from the brisk biking air. Students all over shed their jackets as they absorbed the myriad events around them. They had arrived to Party On the Edge.
After taking it all in, I began walking across the venue. After just a few steps, a student stopped me and thrust a pencil and post-it notes into my hands. He pointed toward the “Idea Wall” and encouraged me to share my Stanford arts experiences. I pondered what to write while looking at the wall’s progress. Initially, the wall was bare, but as more students arrived, writing crept across the wall like ivy. Comments included philosophical thoughts and requests for more arts on the Farm.
“More opera!” one student wrote.
While I stood at the “Idea Wall,” I heard the whispers of one freshman. He mumbled possible ideas, but couldn’t decide what to write. He pondered for several minutes. Then, stumped, he stormed back to the table with the post-its and slammed his idea pad down.
“I don’t know anything about arts at Stanford,” he said.
After also being lost for words, I stood back, observed other’s ideas and smiled. I placed the pencil and post-its back on the table and continued browsing. Friends jumped in front of me to greet me. Some were enthusiastic about their imminent performance. Others were nervous and discouraged me from watching their show. Either way, I was excited about the night that awaited me.
As I reached the student art galleries, I made my way through a dense pack of students. Some guests nudged each other as they snapped pictures of the artwork. Others chatted about summer vacations, dorms and classes.
Somehow, I felt the other students and I were out of place. I felt as though our jeans and sweatshirts clashed with the elegance of the event. We weren’t dressed up like the typical museum-going, art-collecting crowd. We were Stanford students, simply searching for a study break and a relaxing time. Yet it wasn’t fake or inappropriate.
Suddenly, a project created by Santhi Elayaperumal M.S. ’09, Ph.D. ’14 and Greg Kress M.S. ’09 Ph.D. ’14 began to move. Gasps filled the crowd.
“Oh snap,” a woman yelled.
This project combined technology and art, as it used energy from plants to power a robotic pen.
After this show, I stepped back and absorbed the atmosphere once again. The many displays overwhelmed me. There was no way to see and truly appreciate all the pieces. Artwork blurred with guests, one body that danced as the night continued.
The week’s rain stopped for this party. The clouds parted and the sky cleared. The moon glistened white. It was truly a beautiful evening.
I biked home feeling rejuvenated. It wasn’t just because of the break from studying, the cool night air or the spiced tea I drank. It was the joy that came over me after seeing the beauty and talent of my peers. Stanford is, in more than one aspect, a work of art.