Before coming back to school this past winter, I was sitting at my laptop taking a break from writing summer internship applications and cover letters. I decided to look through the “Student Happenings” email that had just popped up in my inbox, and, scrolling down the list, the words NEW ART HISTORY PUBLICATION caught my eye. It was a sign—I am sure of it. There I was, begging to be part of a publishing house and magazine across the country, and the incredible opportunity to be part of an Art History magazine before summer even started had fallen into my lap. Well, inbox really. As an Art History and English student, this was a chance to combine two of my passions together into my dream job. I immediately emailed my interest including a few too many exclamation points in the hopes that I could join the budding magazine.
Now about a month later, I am thrilled to be Executive Submissions Editor of “Spirit of the Living Watching,” William & Mary’s first Art History publication. The magazine, the first issue of which will be published online on the 13th of April 2012, will include student scholarly papers, creative responses to art, articles and information about current exhibitions, and interviews with students and department professors. Also, “SOLWatching” (pronounced “soul watching”) now has a club and staff of over 20 students, all with individual jobs from layout design to finance and marketing. Being part of the launching process of the magazine has showed me the motivation and passion of students here at the college. In just a month, the SOLWatching club has worked on everything from layout and editing to marketing and fundraising for the magazine. The positive response for the proposed online magazine from students and faculty reiterates for me the enthusiasm the W&M community has in supporting student run organizations as well as the creativity of the individuals behind them.
I decided to sit down with W&M junior Michelle Repper, founder and editor-in-chief of “SOLWatching”, to ask her about the publication. Below is a part of my interview with her where we talk about her inspirations, goals, and process of creating the magazine.
S: How did you come up with the idea for SOL Watching?
M: I was procrastinating last semester during finals week—and thinking about the publications on campus, because I often submit, and I noticed the fact that we didn’t have anything relating to Art History. I really wanted to get the Art History major out there, and make us as legitimate as other majors, if not more so, by having a publication. I then talked to my friends in the Art History Department to see what the student interest would be in a magazine and what they thought of the idea of starting one. They were all really excited about it, so I printed off some flyers and put them in Andrews. Then, I sent emails to Student happenings to see if there were any people interested!
S: What about the title of the magazine specifically?
M: Well first off, there is a Gauguin painting called “Spirit of the Dead Watching.” I had been thinking about the painting a lot, because it was part of my Honors Thesis actually, and also about what our jobs are as art historians. I was thinking how we are meant to watch and, personally, how [Art History] is so much of an emotional experience and connected to who we are as individuals. I thought of it then that “your spirit watching” would be what the magazine is about.
S: What are your goals for the magazine?
M: We really do want to include the entire Art History as well as creative community at W&M. As far as the Art History department goes, I know it would be hard to get in touch with alumni, but I think that they would get excited with this project and could support us with funding or interviews about jobs after graduating with an Art History major. As a department, we are tight knit because we are so small and we are all passionate – because you really don’t do Art History unless you are passionate – so I thought people would get excited.
As far as the rest of the creative community, I didn’t want this magazine to be pigeonholed into scholarly responses only. Such an emotional response doesn’t have to be interpreted in just a sterile scholarly way. I think that so much can be learned from doing poetry and music. OK- did you ever see Pixar’s Ratatouille? He eats a mushroom and some cheese and then music is all around him? That’s what I want to see! If a musician looks at a piece of art and hears something, I want to hear that- I want to know! I think that so much can be learned from that creativity, so I also want to incorporate theater, music, dance, and art history into the magazine.
If you have any old papers, creative writing, or responses to art- “Spirit of the Living Watching” would love to publish them in our upcoming magazine. Email us submissions at SOLWatching@email.wm.edu including works cited if needed and links to /scans of the images you reference! Also follow SOLWatching on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the magazine and our journey to our first publication Friday April 13th, 2012. Many thanks to the W&M community, Art History Department, and Publication Council for helping “Spirit of the Living Watching” with its first steps towards becoming a lasting publication and a positive contribution to campus.