F&M Stories

Research Fair: The Power in Engaging the Community Through Art

What happens when art and civic engagement meet? Franklin & Marshall College senior Sarah Sutter spent her summer showing how effective, and important, it is when they do.

"Sometimes civic work can be a little dry, but adding that art aspect—it's creative and it's emotional and it gets people talking, and I think that's really the most important thing," she said. "You can't get anything done without conversation, and this is how you get that conversation going."

A studio art major, Sutter interned with Public Art Community Engagement (PACE), a City of Lancaster program that builds community through art. She worked on several projects, including designing posters for a city hall research project; assisting with an art installation with Artful Intersections, an initiative that engages local artists in creating street murals and art installations throughout the city; and participating in Mayor's Neighborhood Week, a series of meetings hosted in each of Lancaster City's four quadrants that provided residents opportunities to learn about projects and initiatives in their neighborhood, raise ideas and concerns, and give direct input on current projects.

"I really like what I've been learning about the way art and politics and getting people involved civically, how all those things mesh together," Sutter said.

During F&M's Oct. 15 Fall Research Fair, Sutter will share what she's learned about art and community engagement through a zine, a self-published publication, similar to a small-scale magazine. Sutter will later print the zine with Lancaster-based Risolve Studio.

"I thought that instead of doing a traditional-style research presentation it would be cool to one, utilize a Lancaster business to print it, and two, to use a more artistic method of conveying information," Sutter said.

This zine was inspired by Sutter's love of comic books as well as Yarlyn Rosario's desire, as director of PACE and Sutter's internship supervisor, to tailor the internship to Sutter's interests. The resulting zine not only added a piece to Sutter's portfolio, but documented valuable information to inform future PACE projects.

"My intention overall was to make this experience work for her and do something that would inform the work that we're doing," Rosario said.

Associate Professor of Art History Kostis Kourelis said this internship experience and the zine project helped Sutter step outside her artistic comfort zone. He described her art as introverted and introspective and this internship as "the complete opposite."

"I can't wait to see how this experience will impact the artwork she creates in the future," he said.

Cover of the zine Sarah Sutter designed, which details what she learned during her internship with PACE about art and community engagement.

Cover of the zine Sarah Sutter designed, which details what she learned during her internship with PACE about art and community engagement. Image Credit: Sarah Sutter '22

Sutter was also a contributing artist to the Phillips Museum of Art 2021 senior exhibition, "Disconnected: Capstone Edition." View her work at the online exhibition.

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