Interactive exhibit challenges students to explore Sweet Briar campus

The fall semester begins at Sweet Briar with “You Are Here,” an installation featuring intentionally unidentified architectural drawings of campus buildings as well as photos, prints and paintings depicting familiar spots. A “selfie” challenge is also part of the exhibition, which opens Monday, Aug. 21, in Benedict Gallery and will be on view through Oct. 1.

Photo of staircase
Nancy McDearmon, digital photograph, 2017

The interactive show will include 13 works from the College’s permanent collection and one item from local artist Nancy McDearmon, Sweet Briar galleries’ registrarial assistant. All images on display depict campus, and most feature buildings or locations that still exist today — but many have been repurposed, renamed or changed in some form.

And this is where the fun begins: Instead of identifying each item’s location, exhibition labels reveal only latitude and longitude, a What3Words address identifier and a clue. The label for McDearmon’s digital print — one of the more easily identified spots in the show — reads: “Lat. N 37.556691/Long. -79.081171, readings.rubbing.motivator. Students use these stairs when locating books and quiet spots in which to read.”

In addition, the gallery staff has devised an interactive challenge: Between Aug. 18 and Sept. 14, Sweet Briar students are invited to track down these locations around campus using the label identifiers and their smartphone, tablet, laptop or other device. The next step: snapping a selfie, alone or with friends, at each location. Participants are asked to then post their photos on Twitter using the hashtag #sweetbriarcampus. On Sept. 15, gallery staff and a “special assistant” will draw a winner from all Sweet Briar student participants who posted selfies at the correct spots. The prize is a $50 gift certificate to Daisy’s Café. Faculty, staff, alumnae, College friends, families, neighbors and campus visitors may participate for fun.

“I planned the show specifically with new students in mind, but it will be, I hope, a lighthearted and enjoyable experience for everyone on campus, even those who think they know the place well,” said Sweet Briar galleries and museum director Karol Lawson.

“People may not realize how much things have changed — and how much they have essentially stayed the same.”

Benedict Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The gallery closes when the College is not in session; it is recommended that visitors call ahead to confirm hours. For more information, email mcdearmon@sbc.edu or call(434) 381-6547.

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