PHOTO: Kitty Pond throws “blood” (actually a cranberry juice mixture) on herself during her performance in the “Vagina Memoirs,” Feb. 24.

The Vagina Memoirs

This year the fifth annual “Vagina Memoirs” was performed on campus, highlighting various issues faced by Western students and community members. Participants shared their real-life stories, memories and full-fledged experiences through powerfully written and memorized monologues. 

An adaptation of Eve Ensler’s “Vagina Monologues,” “Vagina Memoirs” covers tough topics such as domestic violence and body image, as well as racial, sexual and religious issues.

Associated Students Women’s Center Coordinator Lizzie Lamb said that a large focus for this year’s production was to make sure the event was trans-inclusive, including those who identify as queer or transgender.

“Women’s experience is so much more than what we look like and what’s between our legs,” Lamb said.

After a casting call in November, 15 participants were selected, all of whom spent the next several months in meetings and writing workshops.

In February, the 2010 production of “Memoirs” received the Student Driven Program of the Year award from the Association of College Unions International.

“It’s hard to pinpoint ‘Memoirs’ success on one person, even though nomination was based on last year’s cast,” said Lamb.

“There was so much work before that that was put into the ‘Memoirs,’ and it’s not just the coordinators and not just the cast that are winning this award, it’s everybody. It’s really exciting and really humbling at the same time.”

The ACUI is a nonprofit educational organization that brings together college unions and student activities professionals from hundreds of schools in seven countries.  Within the ACUI, there are 25 institutions outside the United States and 557 intuitions total.

This event was a favorite of ours for many reasons. The “Vagina Memoirs” has become a staple on Western’s campus as a truly unique experience, and now after this year, an award-winning experience. Participants share their raw, vulnerable truths on-stage, as the audience members bear witness. The event itself is inspiring to all who participate, it is loved by so many on campus.

Whirling Waves and Wolfbats

In February, the Viking Union Gallery was transformed like never before. Artist Dennis McNett opened his exhibit, titled “Whirling Waves and Wolfbats.” The installation included elaborate and intricate woodblock prints, which McNett created by hand-carving designs into wood, then turning the designs into prints through stamping or rubbing techniques.

In preparation for his grand unveiling, McNett worked with students to build a large piñata referred to as the “Fire Eagle.” Students also built their own helmets and weapons, all of which they used to crack the piñata open after hanging it from the red sculpture in the Performing Arts Center plaza.

Senior Teresa Grasseschi, a gallery attendant and art major specializing in print-making, said she was not only thrilled to take part in the creation of art, but in the performing and destroying of it as well.

 “Dennis is one of my very favorite artists that I’ve been hoping and hoping would come for a couple years now,” Grasseschi said. “His art is interactive, and he really takes print into a different direction that it usually doesn’t go into.”

The medium for McNett’s prints varied, which was a testimony to his creativity. His prints lined the bottom walls in curling waves, restored colorful life into Anti-Hero skateboards that hung on the walls and gave dimension to ceiling-to-floor silk tapestries.

His gallery also included a wooden Viking ship that was built inside the gallery with help from students prior to the exhibit opening. The ship’s sail contained an intricate print of skulls, goats, snakes and a set of forks. Prints of snarling wolves lined the hull of the ship. Allie Paul, VU Gallery coordinator, said the contrast between McNett’s gallery and previous artists is the perfect example of the diverse array of art the VU Gallery strives to show.

 “The exhibit exemplifies how the VU Gallery is so versatile, going straight from a hanging cloud of PostSecrets to an overwhelming fantasy world that Dennis McNett creates with his intricate designs and creatures,” she said.

This event was not only fun for us to cover, but brought to light the uniqueness and variety that was the VU Gallery this year.

From the PostSecrets exhibit to the free drawing board, the white gallery walls went through a variety of looks this year, all of which are memorable and creative in their own right. 

Rally to Restore Education

It is hard to think of this year and not think of two words: budget cuts. When Gov. Christine Gregoire proposed another cut for higher education across the state in the range of $84.6 million, Western students and faculty weren’t going down without speaking up.

The rally was held on the National Day of Action to Defend Public Education, and was coordinated by a variety of organizations, including Western Votes!, Western United to Defend Education, local nonprofit organizations, veterans groups and Associated Students clubs.

The fight against budget cuts was a big one this year, and the fact that students went above and beyond to get their voices heard speaks volumes about our campus and the students that are part of it.