In the spirit of the great rivalry between Episcopal and Woodberry, I decided to pursue the pressing question that many people persistently ask and desperately wonder this time of year, “how does Woodberry’s fine arts compare to that of Episcopal’s?”
First, I sought an insider’s perspective. When I asked my grandfather, a Woodberry alumna, about his experience with Woodberry’s art program, he simply replied, “what arts program?” Having deemed it necessary to seek a more modern perspective, I began my thorough investigation at Woodberry’s official website, under the fine arts category. Exploring the Tigers’ student-made film collection, I clicked on video #1–an interview, directed and filmed by a Woodberry student who captures a fellow Woodberry student discussing his hobby of photographing stars. After pressing play, an interlude of instrumental compelling piano immediately begins, starting soft but crescendoing as the screen is flooded with fading pictures of galaxies that resemble MacBook screensavers. The piano and starry visual effects fade into the Woodberry student sitting in a beige armchair, looking just past the camera, as he states his opening words, “when I was little, I’ve always looked up at the night sky and wondered what was out there. Uhm, it’s just such a vast space compared to how small we are on Earth.” Profound. I wonder if we have such tortured intellectuals and brooding Picassos like him here at Episcopal. The piano sounds and galaxy images emerge from the background, this time more aggressively, and I scroll down and click on the next video so as to avoid any seizures prompted by the visual effects.
The next student-generated short film is an Under Armour “I Will” 60 second commercial. The scene opens with a dusty, old clip from a Woodberry football game, accompanied by a quaint acoustic instrumental, which likely is from a Spotify “Discover Contemporary Folk” playlist, or an “Acoustic Christian Pop” channel. The scene cuts to a Woodberry student strolling into the locker room, gently tossing a football between his hands, and staring pensively at the ground. The music continues, with lyrics sung in harmony by a male and female voice, softly singing, “If I find him, if I just follow *guitar strumming* there’s an airplane in the sky, with a banner right behind. Loneliness is just a crime.” Is this a biblical reference? Who is this ‘he’? A war reference? Perhaps a meaningless string of rhyming words? I am intrigued by this cryptic musical accompaniment. The video continues, but suddenly the student is sitting in a grassy field, again staring pensively, this time at the sky. The video cuts back again to the boy sitting alone in the locker room, this time having replaced the football with an open book in hand. He scans the page for a solid 7 seconds, then closes it, presumably having completed his homework. What an exemplary student-athlete this young man is. The camera then shifts focus to a suspicious object in his other hand, a large golden pocket watch. He stares at the clock then bows his head. Is this an antique family heirloom? Time travel machine? Idol of worship? We don’t know. Suddenly, there is a dramatic change of scene, and the young scholar-athlete is now sprinting back and forth on a field, and this time the musical accompaniment is an angsty, pop rock song that appears to be motivating the boy as he is now suddenly lifting weights, straining at his reflection in the mirror. Man, this kid is everywhere. I wonder how he has access to all these vacant athletic facilities! My thoughts are interrupted by an abrupt change, the whiny folk music instantly returns, and the boy is back sitting in the locker room. Amazing! He takes out his watch, but before he moves, the screen switches to the dusty football tape again. I’m no football expert, but this appears to be just a tape of someone in an orange uniform completing what looks to be an arbitrary and unimpressive pass. Before my doubts can progress, the main character is back in the locker room staring at the watch. How does he do it? He bows his head, and this time kisses the mini clock. The scene cuts to black with an Under Armour logo.
Wow. This is Woodberry arts. I exit the film section, deciding I am so moved by the videos I’ve seen that it would be impossible for me to stomach any more. In conclusion, Woodberry visual and fine arts seems to offer quite a diverse and accepting environment for creative souls. I wish these Woodberry students the best of luck on their artistic journeys, especially that disciplined, young football scholar, who will need even more luck this week than the directors of that compelling short film.