By Benito Vila
“So what’s it all mean?” and “Why do we have to learn this stuff?” are common refrains from kids in school at every level.
Parents and educators are always hesitant to tell the truth in answering the first question, that it all means little unless it’s applied and practiced. And few are willing to answer the second unless they have had the joy of discovery, taking the most arcane bits of information and finding a use for them.
This year’s Ross seniors have shown that they are already gaining insight on both questions. Currently there are 52 senior projects on exhibit in the Ross Gallery and the Ross Senior Building, running the gamut from “Map-matics” to “Off the Grid”.
In “Map-matics”, Moss Turpan tracks personal and group behavior in 17 smartly designed posters; in “Off the Grid”, Sylvia Channing and Karen Sanchez chronicle their experience in doing their best to live without modern conveniences.
On the whole, this savvy class, the first brought up entirely in the all-new world of iPhones, iPods and iMacs, demonstrates a comfort with those communication tools and has submitted an inventive set of projects born of equal parts effort, creativity and angst.
According to the project syllabus, The Ross School senior projects are intended to “be the culmination of a student’s learning experience.” It is hoped that students should come away with “a deeper insight into themselves as learners and producers.”
Among the standout projects are five raising over $40,000 for charities and causes, several pointing out the illogic of ignoring world hunger, climate change and successful indigenous cultures, and several more making comment on the media, fashion and cultural trends that have become so familiar to them.
Many are visually unexpected, such as “Urbanism: A Rebirth of City Planning”, in which Jennifer Ortiz models an efficient urban center on the shores of Georgica Pond and the David Hume-inspired “Simulacra” by Hannah Baker which presents memories in much the random way we recall them.
Some are straightforward but insightful nonetheless, two examples being Nathaniel Oppenheimer’s “Government, Inc.: Financial Aspects of Political History” and Miles Kozatach’s “Flexible Minimalism in Furniture Design.”
None seem to draw visitors in the way “The Wanderers of the Desert” does, Lorcan Jowers installing a full Bedouin tent in the Senior Building lobby, complete with the typical artifacts of that nomadic tribe.
A more detailed overview of the Ross seniors’ work is available on ross.org under the “news” tab. The presentations are available for viewing until mid-March.