When asked about the main location of the arts community at Emory last year, it’s likely that “Eagle Row” would be far from the first place to come to most students’ minds. However, with the new Eagle Row Theme Housing program, one of the houses on the Row is looking to become the next arts hub on campus.
The Media, Literature and Arts Outreach (MLAO) house is one of Emory’s newest additions. This past Saturday, the MLAO hosted its kickoff event at 14 Eagle Row — a party featuring a visual arts showcase with original artwork by 17 Emory student-artists.
In a side room that acted as a gallery, MLAO displayed the artwork on the walls and in glass cases, allowing guests to simultaneously socialize and view the art. While this event was strictly for visual artwork, featuring photography, painting, sketches and even jewelry, MLAO will expand its events to include more artistic media in the future.
The kickoff event also featured a room to dance in the basement, complete with a surprise performance by dance group Persuasion.
Formerly the house of fraternity Kappa Alpha Order, the idea for MLAO sparked when College senior Nick Bowman, co-president of The Emory Spoke, Emory’s humor magazine, heard about the opportunity for themed housing on the Row.
Because there was only a week to create an idea for a house (and in the middle of final exams), Bowman reached out to his fellow members of Media Council, the organization that oversees student media organizations such as radio station WMRE and literary-arts magazine Alloy.
Juliana Bonovich, College junior and president of The Pulse, one of Emory’s art publications magazines, quickly jumped on board. A sophomore advisor in Longstreet-Means Hall at the time, Bonovich was able to bring her experience and knowledge of Emory Residence Life to the application for the house.
“We saw this as an amazing opportunity for media groups,” Bonovich said.
The two then recruited Senior Director of Campus Life Technology and Bookstore Relations Bruce Covey as their faculty advisor. Covey, a book publisher and poet, ran the “What’s New in Poetry?” series that ended last fall. He suggested that they expand the idea from media, resulting in a theme encompassing literature and the arts as well..
After generating student interest, compiling a list of about 60 students and making a presentation to a group of faculty and students from organizations including the Student Government Association, Residence Life and Housing and Greek Life councils, the group won the house, with Bonovich as the resident advisor.
Bonovich hopes that it will fill the void left by the cuts made to the Department of Visual Arts and the Journalism Program.
The MLAO house will also give students the opportunity to reserve rooms online for their personal art projects. According to Bonovich, these rooms are optimal for students worried about issues such as getting paint on the carpets in dorm rooms, those looking to collaborate with fellow artists and more.
While unable to grant card access to the inside of the building to all students, Bonovich said that students are welcome to work on the back porch, inviting students to bring art supplies or even instruments.
Bonovich also spoke about reaching out to professors to give lectures and run programs at the house.
“When you take an event from a department and put it on Eagle Row, suddenly you’re merging two worlds,” Bonovich explained. “You’re making academics a little more exciting, you’re giving students a platform, you’re giving students a place where they can show their excitement a little more because it’s a more acceptable place.”
Citing the huge popularity of events hosted by The Pulse, such as Symposium, the arts showcase co-hosted by fraternity Alpha Tau Omega that drew 300 people last September, Bonovich said that she hopes the MLAO house will have similar successes.
“This is such an important space to have,” Bonovich said. “We’re really just trying to center the arts on campus.”
As the location of the Visual Arts building (located behind the baseball field on Peavine Creek Drive) is far from a central area on campus and difficult to reach, Bonovich and Bowman hope that having MLAO in the middle of a major social hub on campus such as Eagle Row will help students find the time and opportunities to participate more in the arts community at Emory.
“We knew that people don’t always have the time to do what they want to do in college,” Bonovich said. “That’s what we were hoping that house would be — giving people the time to do what they want to do.”
With the funding cuts made by the Student Government Association (SGA) to Emory’s Media Council, which covers over 10 student media organizations, from $50,000 to $10,000, there may be an even larger void in the media and arts community.
However, students will still be able to go to the SGA to request funding.
“I’m really excited about [any future] events done [at MLAO] by other organizations,” Bowman said, adding that his organization, The Emory Spoke, will hopefully hold an event open to all of Emory.
Although the MLAO house will have to reapply next spring to keep their house on Eagle Row, both Bonovich and Bowman are excited for the year to come.
“I really hope that it can just become a normal fixture on campus, a destination for like-minded people,” Bonovich said.