By Isabel Povey, Summer Times Staff Writer

“The art of a person is a mirror to their mind,” former Prime Minister of India once remarked on the universal language that our society has come to appreciate so deeply. The language known as art. This historic quote holds true today, and fortunately for all of us, the art programs we have access to here at Exeter Summer are nothing less than remarkable. 

Not only do we have a beautiful building dedicated solely to visual arts, but we are also so lucky to share a campus with a gorgeous, brand new center for theater and dance. In these buildings, there are over twenty art classes of all sorts available, as well as private lessons for students to uniquely improve their talents. 

It is proven that arts are essential to the success of an academic setting, and vital to the overall well being of a person throughout their life. The arts aren’t for everyone, but neither is math or history. Tiffany Ogharandukun, a 15-year-old from Boston has struggled with this, but that hasn’t held her back from pursuing her true passions. Because of her family’s strong Nigerian roots, it hasn’t always been ideal for her to take the artistic path. Nevertheless, she is a current student in Exeter Summer’s construction design, fashion design, and intro to theater classes, as well as a PE course in intro to dance. Her contradicting cultural values are what fueled her to become involved in the arts. “I had to rebel,” she explained. “I am so glad I did. I love all art forms, I could never choose a favorite.”

Exeter Summer is also a great opportunity for students who don’t have a lot of experience with art to give it a whirl. Cassandre Desurmont, 16, of Paris, aspires to be an architect when she grows up. She is enrolled in the architecture class here, and was so excited to experiment with expressive movement in the dance PE course. Although these are two new adventures for Cass, she is no stranger to the arts. “I love the arts because I feel like they are a part of me. I have been taking guitar lessons for seven years, and I love drawing too,” she said. “I am a creative person! It is just who I am! I love creating and finding new ways to express my imagination.”

Some people look at art as a way to express themselves, and others see it as a way to escape themselves. Amberlee Darling, an instructor in the dance program, believes “You get to really connect with yourself and others through art. Dance is such an embodied art form, meaning you’ll always have to either get into yourself or step into the shoes of another person.” She says art has a special way of enabling us to accomplish this through experiences that aren’t achievable other ways. 

Ms. Darling has been dancing since she was 2 1/2 years old. She now holds a bachelor degree of fine arts in dance performance and a masters in movement therapy and mental health counseling. She began teaching and performing all over the world when she was in her twenties, but recognizes a special requisite of art education here at Exeter Summer. “I think our summer students a lot of times get stuck within themselves over their homework, and it’s good for us to get our heads out of a book sometimes.” 

As a dance instructor at Phillips Exeter for ten years, she is passionate about creativity and started teaching because she felt passing on the gift of art through education was where she could “do the most good.”

It seems the common thread of art is connection. Whether it’s here on the campus we’ve begun to call home, or wherever else life will take each of us, art is the universal language that we will always share. These incredible programs will be showcasing Exeter Summer’s artists and invites the support of our entire community. 

Friday, July 26th the theater program will be showing their hard work in the production of their show at 7 p.m. in the Goel Center for Theater and Dance.

Tuesday, July 30th is the first performance of the dance concert, and the second will take place on the 31st, both at 7p.m., also in the Goel Center. 

At 5 p.m. on the 31st the Student Art Show will be taking place. We hope to see you there!