The busy and hectic schedule of a college student often leaves limited time to relax and enjoy the moment. However, “Playin’ around South Orange” is a program created to make relaxation possible. This program, in its third year, places pianos throughout South Orange for all to play and hear.
Linda Beard, the SOPAC Director of Community Engagement and founder of the public arts project recognizes the important mental and physical health benefits associated with even a small daily exposure to the arts. The programs intends to “interrupt the daily routine of someone’s life with something that has to do with art in a fun and whimsical way,” Beard said.
According to Beard, pianos are donated from local residents and local artists are encouraged to submit a rendering of what they would paint on a piano from which a committee of artists chooses the finalists as part of the process to select the artwork on the pianos each year.
The program includes a piano located in front of the University Center entrance on campus. Beard said the piano is decorated every year by a different Seton Hall organization: the first year by Greek organizations, the second year by the theater program and this year by the Peer Advisors.
The Program Coordinator, Anjole King is one of the featured artists in this year’s program. The piano she designed and painted is displayed in front of the South Orange Middle School. The piano “is a tribute to ‘El Dia De Los Muertos’ and displays traditional flowers, sugar skulls and happy dancing skeletons,” King said.
As the program seeks to provide beauty and art in everyday life, the Mexican culture is beautiful in how they acknowledge and celebrate death as not morbid, but as a part of life, according to King.
The pianos are enjoyed by students such as Stephanie Wiant, a junior public relations major. “Music is a very important aspect of life as it allows people to express themselves without using words,” Wiant said. A musician herself, Wiant is a self-taught pianist who also plays the clarinet and tenor saxophone.
“My favorite part of the program is seeing kids downtown playing on the pianos, even if they don’t necessarily know how to play,” Wiant said.
The program began at the end of August, when students moved back to the town, and runs for six weeks.
Kelly Zarnowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org