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Senior project sparks inspiration

Cody Luk
Assistant Arts Editor

A six-foot black box sits in the middle of Sneaky Park while curious passersby walk inside to find a mirror box with inspiring messages.

This interactive installation, “Don’t Look,” is the senior project for Ariana Harris, senior theater major and working artist.

It is a performance art piece with the audience being the performers.

“I was inspired by Georgi Paro’s staging of ‘The Dumb Waiter,’ by Harold Pinter many years ago at this school,” Harris said.

“I hope the audience takes the time to see themselves, not just look at themselves,” she said.

The installation consists of mirrors on two sides, a transparency film on one side and a black curtain at the entrance.

The concept for the performance art is that the audience would walk into the mirror box and see themselves for more than their appearances and spend a few minutes in reflecting on their individualities.

The messages written on the mirrors are also meant to influence the audience.

Some of the inspiring messages included “Who is this person? Not what is this person?” and “Give yourself a great big smile.” Other messages included “Make eye-contact with yourself for 30 seconds,” “Feel free to take a selfie” and “Be here three minutes and don’t leave.”

The audience is also encouraged to share their photos and their experiences on social media sites with the hashtag “#dontlook.”

“We’re all so obsessed with image, but full understanding of self is much more than aesthetic,” Harris said.

“I want people to let go of preconceived notions of the self,” she said.

Harris’ favorite part of the project was in watching the audience performance. She stayed near the installation to see people’s reactions.

Harris’ best friend and senior theater major, Sierra Taylor, is the stage manager of “Don’t Look,” and she was also involved with this project.

“We are hoping that people will take time to reflect on what they perceive in the mirror on more than just a superficial level,” Taylor said.

“The title ‘Don’t Look’ actually means don’t just look, but see, reflect and take in,” Taylor said.

The installation is built with wood and metal from the theater department. The frame is metal while the base is wooden.

It took over a week to complete the construction at the theater shop with the help of sophomore theater and business major Sara Haddadin and technical director Alan Tollefson, who is also Harris’ mentor.

“My favorite part was getting it set up here at the Sneaky Park and the cleaning of the mirrors and writing the messages because it finally became complete,” Haddadin said.

“I remember seeing (Harris’) sense of relief that day because it’s finally done and we don’t have to worry whether it’ll work or not. That was nice to see,” Haddadin said.

Haddadin wanted to be a part of “Don’t Look” because of the intention of the project to inspire others.

The original idea was to put mirrors all over the campus, but it was changed for simplicity, she said.

“The most challenging aspect of this project is that it’s a six-foot mirror box,” Taylor said. “I know I can speak for Ariana when I say she is basically building this all on her own with little help.”

The project took one month of conception and one month of construction. Harris came up with the idea during the fall semester and discussed with Taylor. They finalized the project in January.

The performance art piece was installed at 8 a.m. on Feb. 6 and it was on display until 4:30 p.m. Feb. 7. Additional exhibition dates are to be determined.

Cody Luk can be reached at cody.luk@laverne.edu.

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