As Spartans return to on-campus teaching, learning and living, the Michigan State University College of Education has debuted a community-led exhibit to reflect on the past several months and look toward the future.
The College of Education Community Pandemic Scrapbook, based in Erickson Hall and in a digital format, features a myriad of ways for students, faculty and staff to “reflect, heal and imagine as we come back together for the school year.”
“We’re living through a momentous time in history,” said Terah Venzant Chambers, the college’s associate dean for equity and inclusion and a co-creator of the exhibit. “Even as we’re experiencing the impact of the pandemic in deeply personal ways, this Pandemic Scrapbook is an opportunity to document and share with one another, and for history, the breadth and meaning of this momentous time.”
Poetry is prominent in the exhibit, displaying works by college faculty members Laura Apol, Janine Certo and Karenanna Creps. The exhibit also includes a poster featuring the text of “The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman, the poet featured during the 2021 U.S. presidential inauguration. Exhibit creators found inspiration in Gorman’s poem, and used snippets of the poem in “Restorative Cards” participants can write on to contribute to the exhibit. Prompts include “How did you find or give support to those around you? What can your MSU community do to support you?”, among other questions.
Hearts of various shapes are included for exhibit participants to honor and remember the names and groups of people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Art and artifacts submitted by community members dot the walls, depicting activities and hobbies from the pandemic, like learning to crochet.
Rounding out the exhibit, in a more light-hearted tone, community members can fill out cards asking questions about favorite TV shows, books and more.
“This project has the potential to serve as a space for so many things: reflection, mourning, healing, sharing and self-expression,” said Christine Thelen-Creps, exhibit co-creator. Thelen-Creps is the policy and outreach coordinator of the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA); MSU currently serves as host for the organization. “I hope that everyone who visits and participates can use this project as an outlet for whatever they need right now.”
Jenn Brown, executive staff assistant to Interim Dean Ann Austin and another exhibit co-creator, agrees.
“By giving the exhibit a broad scope, we hope that it is inclusive to wherever you are in your emotions and journey. It is a tool that can be used in multiple ways by multiple people,” she said.
In addition to the physical representation of the exhibit, the Scrapbook is also available digitally. Anyone is welcome to participate in either version of the exhibit. If you wish to donate art or artifacts to the exhibit, they can be delivered to 133 Erickson Hall or 122A IM Circle.
The Scrapbook was created and is maintained by members of the College of Education community, including Venzant Chambers; Thelen-Creps; Brown; Cait Bergeon, a doctoral student in the Curriculum, Instruction and Teacher Education (CITE) program; and Lauren Knapp, digital communications manager.
- The Scrapbook is one of several exhibits that have been displayed in Erickson Hall in recent years. Others include the “I March, I Stand” exhibit (2018); the “Our Global Community” photo exhibit (2019) and the community-led holiday exhibit (2019).
- Laura Apol was named Lansing-area’s Poet Laureate in 2019. Since March 2020, Apol has worked with her TE 458 classes on using poetry to “put their [pandemic] experiences into words.” Read more from Apol on this work, and some samples of poems by students in the New Educator (2021).
- Terah Venzant Chambers became associate dean for equity and inclusion in 2020. Since then, she and others from the college community, have led efforts to reignite the college’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. Read about some of those efforts in the New Educator (2021).