String topography artwork in Schine draws attention to Orange After Dark

Graduate student Luke Blum creates the "S" now hanging in Schine at a pancake breakfast last year.

Inspiration struck Luke Blum, a graduate student in Syracuse University's School of Education, in an unusual way last year. The result -- a piece of artwork featuring an orange Syracuse "S" -- now hangs in Schine Student Center. 

“Believe it or not, I had watched 50 First Dates recently,” he said of his inspiration to create the piece at an Orange After Dark event in May. One of the major ideas in the movie — a romantic comedy starring Adam Sandler and a Drew Barrymore with chronic amnesia — is how to deal with problems in life. The characters choose art as their therapy, so Blum thought to do the same. 

As a way to take students’ minds off finals at the end of the school year, Blum organized a group to create the piece. He recruited help from participants at Orange After Dark’s annual pancake breakfast, in which students are invited to eat breakfast as a late-night break from finals studying. The work, known as string topography, consisted of pieces of string that stretched across the perimeter of the rectangular frame. This left a giant “S” in the space underneath the strings. 

The artwork ushers in Orange After Dark’s third year. As an activity-based program, its mission is “to provide students with a safe affordable way to enjoy themselves with experiences they couldn’t normally find on campus,” said Robin Berkowitz-Smith, one of the leaders of the organization.

Students pay just $3 to partake in a variety of excursions.  Some of the outings include bowling, comedy club shows and indoor amusement parks.

Orange After Dark has been gaining popularity recently, Berkowitz-Smith said, with every event now selling out right before it happens. In fact, Fright Night, one of the most sought-after tickets in which students go to a haunted house, will increase capacity from 750 to 850 this year.

“The only limitation on how many students can attend is based on the venue. If the venues were larger we would allow more students to come,” Berkowitz-Smith said.

An important aspect of Orange After Dark is its sense of community. This is reflected in Blum’s art piece. While most pieces of art are signed with one name, what makes Blum’s artwork different is that the names of many participants ring the frame.

Blum said future group art projects are on the way.

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