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Community engagement course works to stitch together Transylvania and its neighbors

In each of its three years, the Community Engagement Through the Arts program, taught by art professor Kurt Gohde and English professor Kremena Todorova, has grown. After this year’s class, it is even closer to the goal of bringing the Transylvania community and the North Limestone community together.

This year’s community engagement course used quilting as a means to get students involved in the neighborhood, which borders campus. Students from Transy and the University of Kentucky worked on the quilts, and the Quilt Guild of Kentucky put the finishing touches on them. The class held quilting bees in a North Limestone home, Third Street Stuff, Transylvania, and Kids Café. The idea was to use the quilts as slip covers for items at a local secondhand furniture store and hold an exhibition, but plans changed.

Angela Baldridge ’04, director of AmeriCorps of Kentucky, had just finished a Build-A-Bed project that made beds for 500 Kentucky kids who don’t have beds. The class donated the 50 quilts from the exhibition and the quilting bees to that program.

“We realized we could have more use for the quilts after we took them out of the store,” Todorova said. “It worked out great, not just for the neighborhood, which was the purpose for the class, but for the Build-A-Bed project.”

Gohde started the community engagement program three years ago as a way to use art to connect Transylvania with the surrounding community. Each year, more and more community members have attended the classes, which Gohde encourages.

“The class is based on the idea that art can be used to create a dialogue about things that need to be discussed but maybe are uncomfortable to discuss in other ways,” Gohde said. “The idea is to go into the community, go to neighborhood association meetings, talk to people, and figure out how they define their primary concerns. We collaborate with as many groups and individuals as we can in the community to address those concerns.”

Check out Transy's Community Engagement Through the Arts program on Facebook.

community engagements through the arts classroom
The Community Engagement Through the Arts class meets to work on quilts that were used for AmeriCorps’ Build-A-Bed project.
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