This year, Princeton seniors earned 68 certificates from the Lewis Center for the Arts — in creative writing, dance, theater, and visual arts — and completed dozens of creative thesis projects. PAW spoke with a handful of these artistic graduates.
Julie Dickerson ’10, visual arts
Dickerson envisioned a thesis project composed of lighthearted paintings and drawings, but after countless hours in the studio, she was less than thrilled with her output. So she made a bold decision: With about six weeks left before her exhibition’s opening, she changed the theme. “It took growth in personal character — and artistic character — to say, ‘This isn’t working,’ ” she says. “You find out what you’re made of.”
The result: a series of large, bold drawings of a post-apocalyptic world, filled with images of war, chaos, and destruction. The thesis, Dickerson says, pushed her creative limits and surprised some of her friends. At the exhibition, classmates told her that they never knew about her “dark side.”
Dov Kaufmann ’10, creative writing
Kaufmann’s love of writing began with a love of reading, reinforced during three years of service in the Israeli army. Through books like Kerouac’s On the Road and Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, he says, he became hooked on the romantic ideal of the writer’s life.
For his thesis, Kaufmann focused his short-fiction collection on a familiar topic: how different Israelis respond to the country’s mandatory military-service requirement. In addition to researching and writing his stories, Kaufmann spent time reading the writers he admires, for inspiration. “I found other classes stifling, mostly,” Kaufmann says. “[The thesis] is much more hands-off ... kind of like you’re building your own curriculum.”
Pilar Castro Kiltz ’10, theater and dance
From the time she arrived at Princeton, Castro Kiltz knew that she wanted to do a creative thesis. As a freshman, she envisioned directing West Side Story for the Princeton stage, but her goals changed: “As I took more classes in theater and dance, my artistic knowledge expanded,” she says. “Very quickly, I knew I wanted to do something different.”
Her thesis production, Liminal, was so different that even Castro Kiltz has trouble categorizing it — she wavers between “tanztheater” [dance theater] and “Our Town-meets-music-meets-experimental-dance.” Each of the 15 students in the cast played multiple roles, telling stories of transformational moments in the lives of small-town teens. Castro Kiltz’s script drew inspiration from Greek tragedy, pop music, and her formative years in Skaneateles, N.Y. (population 7,323). Some scenes relied on movement to tell the story, including a dramatic dance piece about the guilt that the community feels when one teen is killed in a car accident.