“Welcome Back,” an art installation by Kristen Itchon, senior studio art major, was originally meant to be a minuscule project. But it turned into a large-scale interactive piece inviting viewers to revisit childhood memories.
The exhibit, which was on display in the Vista La Verne dorm last month, included blankets, pillows, plates and toys gathered together in a corner space of a stairwell in the dorm building. Itchon gathered these things during her family’s fall cleaning.
Blankets strung across the top between the wall and railing kept the childhood reminiscence focused around the centerpiece.
“The blanket above and the ones that hung on the wall gave a sense of privacy for those who interacted with the project,” Itchon said. “In a way, I hoped it allowed them a sense of safety as they played with the toys, ate candy and drew on the paper walls.”
At the center of the fort was a box, serving as a table for the five surrounding pillows.
Around the table were toys consisting of velcro fruits and vegetables, handheld plushes and a deck of cards.
Mixed into the display were jars and glasses filled with an assortment of jingle bells and Mardi Gras beads.
Itchon spent less than $50 on the project, which also included two strings of fairy lights from Five Below, and offered discounted Halloween candy for guests.
“Similar to how hodgepodge blanket forts were back in my childhood, I wanted something warm, homey, something people could have fun with,” Itchon said.
Itchon, who lives in Vista, said her familiarity with the building led her to choose the front stairwell – because of high foot traffic – for the exhibit.
“I liked stopping by while I was working the front desk,” said Angela Macias, freshman business administration major and residential community assistant. “I can’t tell if it was the free candy or the chance to de-stress that kept me coming back.”
“The whole piece was very homey, very comforting,” said sophomore international business major Brisela Herrera-Alba. “It was nice to sit in silence for a little bit and think back to what it was like to build forts with my little brother again.”
“Students don’t often ask to do these kinds of projects,” said residence life coordinator Jason Souriolle. “I was really excited to partner with Kristen and give her this opportunity and create a sense of play for residents in a different way. I think it’s also a unique opportunity for other students to see that things like this are possible.”
“We can’t go back to our childhood as children,” Itchon said. “So instead, we revisit a childhood and memories that have always been there, just simply waiting for you to come back.”
Brittany Snow can be reached at email@example.com.