Mappa Marlboro Mundi

_MG_0429You already know, because I have ranted about it on numerous occasions, that the end of the semester is when the campus is so abustle with open studios and film festivals and graceful dance performances and erudite final papers and unfathomable performance art presentations that it could make a passing moose feel culturally enriched. What you don’t know, and I’m sure you are awesomely curious, is that the highlight for yours truly was a display of maps in the dining hall. Yeah, maps. I’m talking about student projects from the Introduction to Cartography class, taught by mathematics professor Matt Ollis and history professor Adam Franklin-Lyons.

_MG_0432There were big maps and little maps, bright maps and oblique maps, digital maps incorporating the very latest in mapping technology and hand-drawn maps using the very latest in colored-pencil technology. There were sobering maps, like sophomore Eddie Higgins maps charting mass killings in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, and surprising maps, like senior Eliza Rudegeair’s brilliant map of speeches in Act One, Scene Two of Hamlet—I’m not kidding. Of course, Marlboro being Marlboro, the most popular thing to map was Marlboro being Marlboro.

_MG_0434There’s an interactive map of trails around Marlboro by junior Ian Hitchcock, a map of sounds around the college by senior Kara Hamilton, a map of smokers on campus by freshman Jonah Nonomaque, and a map of what parts of the library are being used by students over time by Kelsey Gibson. I mean, these students made the NSA look like elementary school playground stuff. But my favorite, as you might know from all the images I’m sharing this instant through the modern miracle of the internet, was a glimpse of Marlboro from the perspective of crusty, old historical maps.

_MG_0437These amazing maps by sophomore Kelly Hickey are inspired by the mappa mundis of Medieval Europe (top), the Codex Mendoza of the Spanish conquistadors (middle), and the Tizoc Stone, a giant Aztec cosmographical map (bottom). But while the original Tizoc Stone is about six feet across, carved of solid basalt, and used for human sacrifices, Kelly’s version is a more Marlboro-scaled 16 inches across, crafted from stoneware, and would make a really nice cup holder. Instead of images of blood-thirsty warriors engaged in battle, Kelly decorated the outside of her stone with more familiar Marlboro scenes like skiing, studying, partying, and pressing cider. Now, I don’t know how those feathered gentry of 15th-century Tenochtitlán would feel about that, but to those of us chowing in the dining hall that day (most of us unaccustomed to human sacrifice), it was pretty awesome.

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Marlboro’s Got Compassion

_MG_0401Up here on the hill, where natural disasters usually take the form of icy roads or bad years for maple syrup, it can be hard to imagine a typhoon flattening communities, killing more than 5,000 people, and leaving another 3 million displaced. Well it hasn’t been hard for a collection of awesome students who have designated this Typhoon Haiyan Awareness Week to help alert their peers to the ongoing plight of Philippine communities. I mean, these students set up a bodacious booth in the dining hall, projecting images of the typhoon’s aftermath, and a silent auction selling donated arts and crafts and services to raise money for aid to the Philippines. But the highlight was last night’s “Benefit Show for the Philippines.”

_MG_0391Seriously, forget about America’s Got Talent, or Britain’s Got Talent, or Australia’s Got Talent, or the ever-popular Vanuatu’s Got Talent. In addition to attracting some of the most intellectually curious people you will find anywhere, Marlboro apparently has way more than its fair share of totally talented students. There was awesome finger-picking and folky crooning of original songs by the likes of Amber Claxton, Sophie Tulip (both pictured above), Sam Bass, and Aidan Keeva. Bella Ortiz-Wren (left) accompanied her songs with a wailing Fender Stratocaster and ankle bells, and Felix Jarrar thoroughly rocked Shubert and Schumann on the piano. Johnathan Banks gave a taste of one of his compositions for minimalistic piano plucking, in the dark, amidst a barrage of machines, voices, plumbing, and other gathered sounds.

_MG_0422The show finished up with Michael Schneeweis and Edward Suprenant (right) doing a cover of Rihanna’s “Stay,” Edward and Mia Bertelli making everyone melt with a duet of James Taylor’s “Close Your Eyes,” and a fabulous fiddle tune by Mia and two friends. I know my mind is easily boggled, but all through the concert I sat in awe of these accomplished poets, scholars, scientists, and existential philosophers, all putting their hearts into their music to raise money for bereaved and displaced people eight thousand miles away. It’s not something you find every day, but here it’s just another indication of how this apparently cozy little college on a hill is intimately connected to the big ol’ world beyond.

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