About the Arts Option

Art can be a moving and powerful way to connect and share ideas. For this reason, the Arts Option is an important part of the Sexual Respect and Community Citizenship Initiative, which asks all Columbia University students to consider the values of mutual respect and belonging – and in particular the connection between sexual respect and University community membership.

This website gallery features original art created for the Initiative by Columbia University students. We invite you to view hundreds of works spanning music, performance, the written word, film and video,and visual art that contemplate sexual respect as it relates to the individual, the community and the world. Please join us in this conversation.

Read the Commentary »

We are in the midst of an important, dynamic dialogue about what it means to be a citizen of the Columbia University community, including ways in which sexual respect is inseparable from community membership. The Arts Option, a joint effort of students, faculty, and administrators from across the University, creates a new forum for expression related to this bond between sexual respect and community membership.

The Arts Option invited students creatively express their understanding of “sexual respect” in the context of Columbia. In the Committee’s words:

We encourage the submission of artistic works that are inspiring and that will help us further develop a culture of sexual respect and community engagement. The arts option encourages art that embodies and offers diverse ideas and ideals from students of all races and ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender expressions, and other expressions of the self.

Submission guidelines invited works in the following categories: Film and video; Visual Art; Poetry and Prose; Drama; Dance; Music; Performance Art; and Multimedia. Students were required to submit a statement describing the work, a description of the artistic practice or method, and ideas behind the submission. The statements are not included in the Exhibition because of time and resource limitations; they may be added to enrich the exhibition on the Arts Option gallery website in the future.

Prompts invited students to consider meditating on and representing these essential concepts: Sex, Respect, Consent, Accepting Help, Ownership of Body, Relationships, Boundaries, Online Behavior, Bystander.

Additional prompts also posed questions as possible inspiration for thought and creativity: How can Columbia students, faculty, and administrators promote a culture of sexual respect? How to define consent and its relationship to sexual respect? What are the roles of bystanders? What do healthy relationships look like? How can online behavior influence sexual respect?

Other important guidelines required that: a. Works be original, created in the Spring semester 2015, and not previously submitted to another initiative, competition, or class; b. works represent a good faith effort to address the topic; c. works not contain content that could be construed as commentary on an individual or use names, imagery, or anything else that identifies an individual or group of students without that individual or group’s participation and permission; d. works not be sexually explicit or contain content that could be construed as defamatory or derogatory to another person. Students were invited to create works on their own or in groups of up to four students and were permitted to request that their work be displayed anonymously or not displayed publicly at all.

The Arts Option Committee gratefully acknowledges the hundreds of submissions that students requested not to be displayed as well as a group of submissions that, while moving, thought-provoking, and inspiring, fell outside the scope of the guidelines so are not included in the Exhibition and web gallery.


To the Artists,

We are humbled by the thoughtful and moving work you have contributed to the Arts Option. Thank you for sharing your work and your voice.

With gratitude,

The Arts Option Committee

Rogério Pinto, co-chair, School of Social Work
Monique Rinere, co-chair, Columbia College/School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Trevor Corson, School of the Arts
Melanie Hibbert, School of Continuing Education
Jean Howard, Arts and Sciences
Anna Guttormsgaard, School of the Arts
Tauriq Jenkins, School of the Arts
Eleanor Johnson, Arts and Sciences
Laila Maher, School of the Arts
Charles Sanky, Columbia College
Maya Tolstoy, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Supipi Weerasooriya, School of the Arts
Ariela Wegner, School of Social Work

The Arts Option committee is ever evolving. If you have suggestions or wish to join the committee, please email artsoption@columbia.edu.

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