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Alumna decorates chairs in CAS classrooms as part of art initiative for students

College of Arts and Sciences alumna Hila Landesman created the Chair Project, which decorated chairs in CAS Room 208 (above) and B18A (below). PHOTO BY JUSTIN AKIVA/DAILY FREE PRESS CONTRIBUTOR
College of Arts and Sciences alumna Hila Landesman created the Chair Project, which decorated chairs in CAS Room 208 (above) and B18A (below). PHOTO BY JUSTIN AKIVA/DAILY FREE PRESS CONTRIBUTOR

On Oct. 17, 22 colorfully painted chairs appeared in classrooms in Boston University’s College of Arts and Sciences.

CAS alumna Hila Landesman, who graduated in January 2013 and now lives and works in New York, said she started The Chair Project to brighten up students’ learning environment.

“Design goes much further than beautiful typography and pretty colors,” she said. “… The question is, how is it [design] making this specific location more beautiful, [and] is it improving people’s lives?”

Students from the College of Fine Arts, College of Communication, School of Management and CAS helped to paint and decorate the chairs, according The Chair Project’s website.

Landesman said a major goal of The Chair Project is to encourage collaboration among BU’s different colleges.

“You can’t have successful results if you don’t combine fields, if you don’t work together with other people,” she said.

Students from more than 15 majors and minors, ranging from painting to business, helped Landesman with the project, according to the website.


Landesman said she hopes other Terriers will consider continuing the tradition of The Chair Project by adding creativity to other parts of BU’s Charles River Campus.

“Having these chairs inside a classroom — they’re all very bright, colorful, and ingenious chairs,” said  School of Visual Arts Director Lynne Allen. “They’re really fun to look at — to bring that into the classroom, where there’s scholarship and deep discussion, brings art into their [students’] lives in a way they wouldn’t expect.”

Landesman came up with the idea for the project after taking a School of Visual Arts course, taught by professor Hugh O’Donnell called Site-Specific Art, in which students create proposals for art projects in various spaces on campus, Allen said.

“For us, art is not just a painting that’s up on the wall,” Allen said. “It’s not just a sculpture that’s put in a public space. Art is around us everywhere, and we see it everywhere. So sometimes when you find it in an unexpected place, it becomes playful. It makes people open their eyes to know that art can be basically anything.”

School of Visual Arts Technical Associate Michael Greenblatt said he helped Landesman plan the project and find appropriate materials to work with.

“It was probably daunting for her, trying to coordinate with a lot of different people to have them to do work as well as her own work,” he said. “But, I like to think that I encouraged her to complete it, as well as give her some technical advice.”

Greenblatt said he was glad to be a part of The Chair Project.

“I am actually very excited by the project,” he said. “I think it is fun, its creative, and it’s cool because it is going to stick around the school for a long time, so I think it’s a great reminder that people are doing creative things around the school.”

CAS junior Leah Robson said she appreciated the idea of a community art project that embellishes the ordinary objects students see everyday.

“CAS is a boring place,” she said. “Now it’s lively … It’s a great idea — the idea of painting something ordinary and making it pretty.”

COM freshman Rebecca Jahnke said one of the chairs appeared in her classroom in CAS this week.

“It was actually kind of funny,” she said. “The first day we noticed this desk in the room — obviously, it hadn’t been there from the beginning of the year — the whole class paused to acknowledge it. Everybody froze to acknowledge this really interesting desk that popped up.”

CAS senior Lesley Harkins said while she likes the idea behind the chair project, she was unsure at first as to why the chairs were in her classroom.

“CAS definitely needs some design,” she said. “It’s kind of dreary.”

Trisha Thadani contributed to the reporting of this article.

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