Art and DigiCOM Students and Faculty Collaborate on Community Project
Lebanon Valley College students and faculty are collaborating on a project relating to the impact the heroin and opioid epidemic is having on families in Lebanon County.
Mathew Samuel, professor of digital communications, and Adam DelMarcelle, adjunct instructor in art, in collaboration with three students and funded through a grant from the Edward H. Arnold and Jeanne Donlevy Arnold Program for Experiential Education, initiated the project earlier this year.
Titled “What Heroin Sounds Like,” the project was based around the families who were not able to express themselves and their memories of the victims in an effective manner. The families are given a platform to express themselves and to give them opportunities to get their stories heard by local and state government.
“The goal was to raise awareness of the current heroin epidemic within the United States, end negative stigmas relating to heroin usage, and build a community of support for those who have lost family to this epidemic,” said Dan Bennett ’20, a digital communications and art & visual culture double major.
“The end goal of this project is to build a template that other colleges and communities can use to combat the heroin epidemic in their own area,” Bennett added.
The project included two events, starting with assisting families in creating art that represents those lost, as well as the struggles of those desperately attempting to help the ones they love. All interpreted the project in different ways.
“We had a day of making artwork where the families told the story about who the loved one was. It was an interactive experience where they could express memories and connections to the person,” Samuel said.
The families would bring in personal items such as a shirt, photos, written documentation, and poetry written by the victim.
In addition, Kelly Bruce ’19 is helping to develop a website and Lexi Shriner ’19 is writing copy and editing audio recordings of the interviews. Bennett also is creating a series of posters based on poems written by one of the victims.
Although the primary students in charge of the event are digital communications majors, students from other departments were involved in this day as well, including art, psychology, and education. “It is definitely mostly student-driven,” Shriner noted.
“This was really my first time working in the real world to make something worthwhile,” Bruce explained. “Hearing the stories of the victims and their families, it made me think, ‘how can I make a difference?’ That’s something you can’t experience in a classroom. I wanted to help end the negative stigma against the victims’ drug use.”
The work created during this day will be showcased at an upcoming event in a gallery setting. It is meant to serve as a display on how the heroin epidemic affects the victim and everyone around them. The stories of those lost will encourage change.
-- Michaela May, Marketing & Communications Student Assistant