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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

The art of sharing secrets

TAMU+Secrets+and+Stories
Photo by Photo By: Sidney Johnson
TAMU Secrets and Stories

“My secret dream is…,” “I want my family to know…,” “Art is…,” and “Other students don’t know…” are just a few of the interactive prompts inviting students to share their secrets on the walls of the James Reynolds Students Art Gallery.  
The gallery installation, called “TAMU Secrets & Stories,” allows students to write and share anonymous secrets and stories as well as read ones written by other students. The exposition was inspired by PostSecret, an interactive project that involves posting anonymous secrets that are mailed in on postcards to a website.
The exhibit, located in the Memorial Student Center until Nov. 28, was the brainchild of the MSC Visual Arts Committee.
“Last year we were thinking about ideas for this semester and we saw the PostSecret online and we really liked that idea,” said Loren Gough, chair of the MSC Visual Arts Committee and supply chain and demand senior. “I think it’s really good because it is anonymous, so I think it is easy to express your feelings and express yourself anonymously without having a fear of being judged or anything.”
Mary Compton, MSC program coordinator and advisor to the Visual Arts Committees, said one concern with the exhibit was that someone would post something “concerning.” Compton said MSC representatives had several discussions with campus departments regarding what to do in the event that students post something that may prompt counseling.
“Rather than censor and say what’s okay to be in there we would rather have opinions that could be talked about,” Compton said. “We have talked to the Student Counseling Center. We consulted with them quite a bit, and we do have resources available in the gallery saying that we know some secrets are difficult to share, and if you need to talk to someone here is a list of on-campus services.”
While there was some concern about what would be posted on the walls of the gallery, Compton said so far the posts have primarily been positive.
“I think the automatic assumption a lot of people, including myself, had when the students proposed this exhibit was that it would open the door to negative, hateful, or just inappropriate comments,” Compton said. “I think we will all be surprised at the responses posted by students through this project. Of the notes that are in there now, they are broadly positive, supportive, inspiring, and in fact, quite the opposite of what everyone feared.”
Mary Casillas, gallery director and biochemistry sophomore, said the exhibit serves as a means for college students to express themselves.
“The fact that it is anonymous and hands on, there is no pressure to have the right answer, it’s whatever they want to construct and express,” Casillas said. “Having the different outlets helps a lot too — I think different people are going to run with it in different directions and interpret it differently. I think it has worked really well with college students.”
Casillas said one of the first steps the Visual Arts Committee had in putting together the exhibit was to pick prompts that would relate to college students.
“First we decided on the prompts — we divided up what demons and secrets did we want to filter these into,” Casillas said. “Once we had the prompts we looked at creative ways to distribute them. So for a university, a chalkboard seemed like the right idea, and for the worries, you can toss those away in the trash.”
Shauna Kim, allied health senior who participated in the exhibit, said she was glad to see others in the gallery.
 “It is really neat to see so many different people participating,” Kim said. “We don’t get a chance to really express ourselves on a daily basis so this is very cool.”

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