May 4 voices on display

Nicole Stempak

Art exhibit opens on Main Street

Art exhibit opens on Main Street

Ella Hassler, 4, has no idea what happened May 4, 1970. That didn’t stop her from coloring a daffodil at last night’s opening of the May 4 Voices Installation.

At 6 p.m. yesterday, about 20 daffodils were pinned on the back wall of Kent State’s School of Art Gallery, 141 E. Main St. Visitors were invited to color an image of a daffodil to express their feelings about May 4. The flowers are part of the healing process for the university and city.

There are four crayon colors to choose from: green, yellow, blue and white (represented with a black crayon). The colors were carefully chosen because of the feelings associated with them. Daffodil prints were inspired by the flowers planted near the May 4 memorial on campus, planted to honor the soldiers who died in the Vietnam War.

On the opposite wall are excerpts from the May 4 Oral History Project:

“It just seemed that something like this would never ever happen here.”

“We didn’t really ever talk about it.”

The testimony lends another aspect to witnesses and those with loved ones involved, said Sean Scully, graduate student in jewelry metals who helped create the installation.

It fleshes out something from an abstract event into something more human, he said.

Sandy Halem, founder of the oral history project and president of the Kent Historical Society, started recording testimony from the university and city communities in 1990. The goal was to give more people the opportunity to speak and, in return, for the university archives to learn more about what happened.

Galleries director Anderson Turner said the project started about a year ago with David Hassler, director of the Wick Poetry Center, and Laura Davis, faculty coordinator for May 4 initiatives.

“We wanted to reframe the conversation to make it relevant to students,” Turner said.

Doug Fuller, owner of the Fuller Design Group at 133 E. Main St., was a sophomore architecture major May 4. He said he appreciated the number of voices that are represented. Often, those personal stories surrounding the event are forgotten.

Mary Platz Hughes, a Kent resident, was still a child in Wadsworth in 1970.

“I walked across Taylor Hill to get to class everyday,” the 1985 printmaking alumna said. “I didn’t have to be there to know something happened.”

Her daffodil is black with blue corners.

Contact public affairs reporter Nicole Stempak

at [email protected].