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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Classmates confess secrets on postcards

    Students are learning the secrets of fellow classmates through postcard confessions, an extra-credit visual communications project in an art education course.

    “”I want to be a trophy wife,”” “”Sometimes I wonder if life would be easier if I were white,”” “”I’m 19 and still afraid of the dark,”” and “”Once I cut off all my lashes because I heard they’d grow longer,”” are a few of the more than 250 secrets shared visually on postcards by UA students.

    David Darts, an assistant professor of art and visual culture education, began offering the project to his students last fall when he taught exploring art and visual culture, an art education and tier II general-education course.

    Darts said he was inspired by www.postsecret.com, a community art project that displays homemade postcards that are mailed in anonymously from all over the world.

    He also said he was interested in seeing how the project would translate to his class and in a smaller population.

    “”I wasn’t sure that anyone would do it at first. I just explained to them that I’d digitize the postcards and post them online and show them in class,”” Darts added.

    The project had three requirements: postcards had to be submitted anonymously, the secret had to be based on something students had never told anyone before, and part of the secret had to be communicated visually.

    Students used photographs, drew pictures, made collages, colored, painted and used many other mediums to express their secrets visually. Darts said the visual aspects of the project made the postcard confessions more personalized.

    “”Early on I realized I’d stumbled on to something that is really important,”” he said. “”Some students told me it was the first project they’d done in college that they enjoyed.””

    Students said seeing their classmates’ “”visual secrets”” made them feel closer, gave a sense of community and the chance to learn something they wouldn’t have otherwise and made them realize that they often had the same secrets.

    “”They realized they were not alone. They weren’t the only person in the class that had an eating disorder,”” Darts said.

    He said the project also created feelings of empathy and relief when they realized how insignificant some of their own secrets seemed in comparison with some of their classmates.

    Darts and art professor Elizabeth Garber, who teaches the course this semester, asked students who are currently enrolled in the course to participate in the project for extra credit.

    Matthew Pate, a psychology sophomore, said he was interested in seeing his classmates’ postcard confessions this semester and anonymously seeing their reactions to his own postcard confession.

    Pate said the students’ confessions he viewed from last semester were sometimes surprising, shocking, hilarious or gross.

    “”It’s a very interesting approach to getting out those secrets,”” he said. “”It kind of opened my eyes to the things other students experience and created a more open environment.””

    Jennyfer Friday, a junior majoring in French education, said the project gave her and other students a chance to express something anonymously that she wouldn’t have otherwise.

    It’s a very interesting approach to getting these secrets. It kind of opened my eyes to the things other students experience and created a more open environment.
    Matthew Pate,
    psychology sophomore

    “”And it kind of felt good to release it,”” Friday said.

    Gina Piergallini, an accounting senior, said she found the process of creating her own “”visual secret”” to be “”traumatic at first,”” but was glad she participated.

    Piergallini said she and her friends realized they had experienced some of the same things expressed on the postcard confessions created by students last semester.

    “”It’s fun to see what people make. You get a lot more out of the visual (aspects). It adds a lot to their meaning,”” Piergallini said.

    Darts created the Web site www.visualsecrets.org to display the postcard confessions students made last semester.This semester, he’ll be posting students’ visual secrets at www.collegeconfessions.org.

    Darts said he is considering opening up the project to college professors and other groups in the future and may exhibit the postcards so people can see them in person.

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