herberger day

Table for 650, please: Second annual Herberger Institute Day is a creative smorgasbord

By

Deborah Sussman Susser

The energy at the second annual Herberger Institute Day was electric — so electric that after four solid hours of almost 100 creative workshops at Herberger Institute’s five schools and art museum, and after 650 faculty, students and staff from the institute joined each other for dinner and guided conversation on Forest Mall, a circle of people was still dancing.

And at the center of that circle, for one brief impromptu moment, was Herberger Institute Dean Steven J. Tepper, popping in his signature bow tie

The break-dancing dean was not the only difference at this year’s Herberger Institute Day: The number of people signed up for workshops almost doubled from 2017, with 2,333 registrations. And this year there were two film screenings after the communal dinner, including “The Shape of Water,” presented by ASU Film Spark at the Marston Exploration Theatre, which also featured a live talk-back with the movie’s "amphibian" star, Doug Jones.

“We are a creative city at the institute — 6,000 artists, designers, scholars — working, teaching and learning together,” Tepper said when the day was done. “You could feel the energy of that bustling city on Herberger Institute Day.”

Sofia Alvarez, a theatre design and production student who helped lead a life-casting workshop, appreciated the opportunity to experience other parts of the college.

“A lot of times people just stay in their buildings and people work within their little ecosystem that’s going on there,” she said. “It’s nice to get out of that bubble and collaborate and speak with others and kind of bridge that gap.”

Melita Belgrave, associate professor of music therapy, signed up for three workshops: Escape the Museum, Crafting Your Stress Away and SplashMob, a (movement-based) painting — using the artists' feet — outside Dixie Gammage.

“It was just a lot of fun,” Belgrave said. “Every activity that I did, I did not interact with anybody from the School of Music. So I was interacting with students and staff and faculty from all other units in Herberger Institute.”

Tepper, who sampled more than eight workshops, including ukulele, painting with sand and storytelling through film, noted that at each stop, “students around the table came from every single college. We are doing on Herberger Institute Day what we aspire to do on every day — provide opportunities and pathways for our students and faculty to move seamlessly across the institute — to access talent and ideas in every discipline, finding inspiration in creative adjacencies.”   

Reaston McManus, a photography undergraduate, found inspiration in a literal creative adjacency: “I’ve never been to Design North before, so I completely found a whole new building.”

McManus said his favorite part of the day was the dinner, dubbed #CreaTable, which he pronounced “delicious.” This year’s meal was the work of a group of undergraduate and graduate Herberger Institute students enrolled in an eight-week interdisciplinary class . Led by graduate student instructors Mallory Alekna and Young Nae Choi, with input from Institute Professors Liz Lerman and Michael Rohd and Herberger Institute Special Events Manager Nyomi Gruber, the students planned, organized and presented the food, activities and entertainment, which included a brass band, the Herberger String Quartet and a student DJ from the School of Music.

“The meal was incredible,” Tepper said. “Great music, great conversation. Six hundred and fifty of us, together. One student said to me, ‘If I were in another college, this wouldn’t be nearly as fun. But at Herberger Institute, every other creative discipline is fascinating to me, so I love this.’ I could not agree more. Herberger Institute Day is a beautiful and powerful expression of who we are.”  

Video by Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts