Students used paint markers and Sharpies last week to decorate sheets to throwback the graffiti room, located in East Hall in the ‘70s.
SAGA organized the event, which was located on the fourth floor of the library. Students could express themselves by writing or drawing on the white bed sheets with provided markers.
The event was a throwback to a room in an old English department building, located where the College Center is now.
According to Ann Boaden, a professor in English, there was distrust and unrest among Augustana students after the Kent State shootings in May 1970 and they wanted to do something in response.
“What happened was that the college supplied the students with paint and brushes and gave them a room in the oldest building on campus and said, ‘You may paint whatever you want to paint on the walls of this room,’” Boaden said.
It was also a way to curb graffiti and vandalism on the exterior of the college.
Students painted on the walls for the majority of a night a few days after the Ohio shooting and were uncensored in what they wrote.
Boaden stated, “it was thoughtful commentary on the sadness of what was going on in our country at the time.”
Students wrote positive messages and even painted over negative phrases that others had written. They drew pictures and wrote phrases and poetry.
Students and faculty at the time called the room “the Kent State room” or “the painted room.”
Boaden said students thought the room would be painted over when they came back to school the following year, but it stayed painted until the building was raised years later due to safety issues.
“I taught many classes in that room and what was fun was to teach writing classes in it because you had a wall full of prompts,” said Boaden.
When seniors Hannah Bohn and Alli Petrassi, co-editors-in-chief of SAGA, learned about “the painted room,” also now nicknamed the “graffiti room,” they decided to create a similar event in which students could express themselves.
“We wanted to make SAGA big again and we wanted to do something that would engage a lot of people,” said Bohn.
SAGA is Augustana’s art and literary magazine where students can submit works of fiction, poetry, and artwork.
Bohn and Petrassi were limited in what they could use for the Throwback to Augustana’s Graffiti Room event. Instead of using a room and actual paint like the original graffiti room, they decided to use two white bed sheets and various markers.
Bohn and Petrassi said more people participated in writing or drawing on the sheets than they expected.
“We were overwhelmed,” said Bohn. Petrassi added, “There were people responding to other people and a lot of people traced their hands.” There was also poetry and artwork.
Bohn said she and Petrassi wanted to remind the campus of what SAGA is and to let students know that they are there for the campus, so that students can contribute their art, poetry, and prose.
“We did it because we believe the campus has something to say,” said Petrassi.
SAGA plans on putting one of the decorated sheets and another blank sheet out winter term again. The sheets will be hung during the SAGA release party and photographs of the sheets will be in this year’s SAGA issue, to be published in early spring.
Sneak peaks of what the sheets look like will be posted on SAGA’s Facebook page as well.