Intellectual curiosity and a passion for exploration are hallmarks of the CDS faculty mindset. One of the best examples of how this manifests itself outside of the classroom is in the annual Synesthesia Project, created by Upper School faculty member David Dvorscak in 2009. “The very act of volunteering for the first project was an exhibition of great courage on the part of my friends and colleagues,” he said.
The Synesthesia Project is an artistic journey wherein faculty and staff members create new works in response to novel inspirations. To begin the project, the participating faculty members are put in an order of succession. The first artist acquires a fortune cookie and creates a work inspired by that fortune. Three weeks later, s/he shows the work (in whatever stage of completion) to the next person in line. The second artist creates a work in response to the first. The first artist does not reveal the fortune. This continues until every artist has seen an inspiration piece and created a work in response to it.
In spring, the works are revealed for the first time in front of an audience at a gala performance. No one has seen any work but the one that that came before them—which was the inspiration—so the revelation is for the participants as well as the audience. We try to place artists in interesting juxtapositions when possible - a classical pianist responding to a chef, for example. The intent is to put artists in a time and space of intentional creativity and risk. New works created and shared and our bond as a community is strengthened.
In the culminating performance/showing, students, staff, and faculty in the audience see teachers taking risks and embracing vulnerability. This year's performance took place last week, with 23 participants. "What's wonderful is that I get to stretch, try something new. And being part of it with my talented CDS colleagues is both fun and inspiring," said photographer Robbie Francis.