As I See It, a collection of poems created by local author Raymond Fraser in collaboration with the St. Thomas fine arts department, was launched on Jan. 19.
Fraser supplied the poems to a St. Thomas University class from the 82 he had previously unpublished so they could provide illustrations.
“The idea was they would go through those 82 and pick out the ones that they thought they could best match a picture to, or the ones they liked the best,” Fraser said.
This was part of an initiative coordinated by the fine arts department to try and get students to work with local artists and authors.
William Forrestall, the fine arts professor who organized the project, said he thinks it’s important to get students involved with local projects because it applies their learning to the real world.
“I mean, for an undergraduate project, I don’t think it gets any better,” he said.
“It’s damn good as a graduate project, to be honest.”
He found the students didn’t really understand the importance of the project until it was completed into a physical copy.
“I see this book: perfect bound, real book, ISPN number, publication, the whole nine yards with a real, holy moly, ‘This is Dr. Raymond Fraser.’ Boom,” said Forrestall.
The idea for this project took form when Fraser was out for a walk and ran into Forrestall walking his dog. Forrestall was thinking of a plan for his class and Fraser happened to have a manuscript of unpublished new and revised poems.
“I don’t think either of us knew exactly what he had in mind at first but it evolved into the idea of getting the students to take black and white photos to go with the selection of the poems,” said Fraser.
Fraser stressed he didn’t want to control the students’ work too much.
“I could have got very opinionated and said, ‘Oh, go get one like this, like that,’ but it was their thing to do so I really didn’t interfere,” said Fraser.
The title and cover picture of the book was created by fourth-year student Sarah Bartlett. Bartlett she said’s grateful to Fraser for being as involved as he was with the class.
“I think it was really brave of him to allow us to go out and have artistic creativity using his work as inspiration,” Bartlett said.
“I liked how it showed me the process of art that works outside of the painting arts on its own and I start to see the possible path into getting into art as a career by the whole experience,” said second-year student Quyen Truong.
Forrestall said he sees the impact it makes when students work on a project such as this and finally say, ‘Hey, we got to granny’s house,’ and looks forward to that continuing year to year.
Bartlett said she likes the community engagement and its ability to show the work students can do.
“I think that it’s a wonderful program and I think that it’s necessary for students, to show students that fine arts can actually be used out in the real world and that not just, say, the study subjects, are important as part of our degree.”