(Photo found on flickr.com/photos/joshwebb3432288487)
Most of my communities are abstract therefore they don’t have a specific building to call home. The community I wanted to focus on in the beginning was the Salem College Ghost Ryders step team. Though I do not actually step, it is a community I feel takes up a lot of my hours. I could have simply chosen Bryant Hall or the Dance Studio since those are the places where most of the practices are held, however they do not mean as much to me as the FAC does. This is why I chose to focus on the FAC.
The FAC is the student body name for the Fine Arts Center here at Salem. Everyone that goes to Salem knows what and where it is. There is just one thing I think not a lot of people actually know on campus and that is who’s Fine Arts Center it is. The answer: Robert E Elberson. Until this project, if you asked me what the full name for the FAC was I would say “I dont know. Somebody’s Fine Arts Center.” I would have possibly made an attempt at guessing one of the names and I may have guessed Robert but I cannot be completely sure because I searched it. I was too lazy to go outside the building to find out even though I visit the building at least twice Monday-Thursday. I also almost never go out the front doors of the building and do not think to look for the name of it while I’m there.
When I looked on the Salem College website I was upset to find there wasnt much information on the building aside from how to get there and the date it was founded which was 1964. With all the information Salem gives on the website, especially about the people I thought there would be some information on the buildings.
I asked semi-random people I have some kind of connection with five questions and they are:
1.What does FAC stand for?
2.What are the first thoughts/impressions you get when you think of the FAC?
3.What does FAC look or feel like to you? (for some even if you have never been here give whatever answer you have)
4.What does the FAC mean to you? (What about you as a designer, an OL and/or a Ghost Ryder (specify your role in these groups))
5.What emotions do you get from the FAC?
I recieved many different answers from them.
A sophomore design student (graphics and interior) class of 2018 and also a member of Ghost Ryders said: Her first thoughts about the FAC is “long nights, stressful designs [and] a long walk from residential areas.” But she sees years of ideas and wisdom in the FAC. It means a lot to her craft as a designer and a place to improve as a PR and stepper for Ghost Ryders.
My grandmother who has never been to this particular Fine Arts Center didnt know what FAC stands for, but as a guess she said “Friendly Access Community”. She knows a lot about Fine Arts Centers having visited others at home in Baltimore Maryland. She thinks about cultural events and various performances when she thinks FAC. Her image of what it could look like isnt too far off but to me seems like she is thinking too highly of what we may have here on campus.
This is also true for one of my sisters who has never been here. She forgot what FAC stands for even though I mention it over the phone all the time. But she gave it her best guess (sending me an answer at nearly 11pm) and said “F__ Activities Center”. She thinks of a college building with 3/4 floors and classrooms for students of all kinds of arts. To her, the FAC means “a cultural center celebrating arts of all typed from all people.”
Another sophomore, Chemistry and Math major said she thought “only art majors are welcome” in the FAC, but to her it’s “where magic happens.” She also said “Everytime I’m in the FAC I wanna change my major.”
When I first entered the FAC I did not take the time to really look at it and decide how to feel about it, however I knew I would be spending quite a lot of time in it. To me it just looked like any other school oriented building. Now I think it is beautiful. I thought it looked nice and it was a place with plenty of spaces. One thing that I questioned was why it had multiple auditoriums. I did not think it was necessary then but I do now.
To me, The FAC means long hours, multiple cups of coffee, little apreciation, a sense of pride and accomplishment, tears, sweat and agony. But the FAC also means I’m one step closer to my dreams and how can that not bring me joy and happiness? This is how I see the FAC through my design eyes. My decision to major in Interior Design may have happened while I was in high school looking at a brochure from a completely different college. However, coming to Salem and experiencing the things this particular design curriculum and faculty has to offer makes me feel like there is no where I would rather be. Minority doesnt matter in the basement of the FAC. When I walk into room 78 I feel at home regardless of how educational the room looks because of all the MAC computers we have. Seeing the smiling face of my professors or just holding various conversations with my peers and professors about all kinds of topics makes me comfortable. Knowing that it isnt just a place of academics but a place to grow makes anything possible. But this is only how the FAC plays a role in my design community. Theres still more communities I’m a part of that are tethered to the FAC.
(Photos by me)
In terms of my Orientation Leaders Community, the FAC becomes extremely important in the middle of August. Being brought back to Salem a week or more earlier than I would be without the OL team, the FAC once again becomes another home. Early mornings and long nights is what the FAC means in August. The hallway that sits near the parking lot leading to the entrance of the drama workshop becomes an art hall for all OL crafts. The stage in Hanes Auditorium becomes mine. Reciting lines and singing songs makes those long nights seem shorter and those early mornings seem later. Oh the laughs and cheers we get during the skit we put on for the first-years that one day makes any and everything we had to do worth it. Fighting through the yawns and the pain I have after moving my new sisters into their dorms seems possible when I think about how much fun I will have putting on the skit later that day. The FAC becomes the place to be. After August the FAC loses it’s value for OLs, but not for me.
(Photo from instagram @Raecheal Nelson)
Being a design major with a concentration in Interior (and hopefully soon to be Architectural Studies!) makes the FAC a home to me, but theres also the Ghost Ryders. The Ghost Ryders are Salem College’s very own step team. When there’s a performance on campus from this organization, there’s a good chance it’ll be in the FAC. Thinking back on becoming a Ghost Ryder, the tryouts were held in the FAC’s very own Shirley Auditorium. That was a couple of the worst days I spent in the FAC, but it was worth it because I gained much more than I hoped for joining this group of ladies. It’s one thing to be friends with someone, to know someone or to meet someone, but its completely different to be linked to someone because of the late hours spent with them perfecting or (in my case) observing and giving feedback on steps and strolls or whatever we may have been working on that night. We recently had a performance in Hanes Auditorium. It celebrated Black History Month. Though I dont perform I attended nearly every practice and I was front and center cheering on my sisters. We are all part of the Black community but that doesnt define us as an organization. It isnt limited to the Black community here at Salem and it hasnt always been only Black members and it probably wont always be. This is one thing that makes me proud to be a Ghost Ryder.
(Photo from Hawa Conteh)
Even though I self identify as a black/ African American female I dont make it who I am. I am black, yes, but what if no one could see that? Who would I be. I female still, indeed. But everyone would still be able to know me as a designer, as an orientation leader and as an executive member of the Ghost Ryders.
None of these communities have any restrictions on what race, class, size, orientation, age or ability I am or have. They dont particularly have s restriction on any self identified gender I am, even though they all exist under a woman’s college. I can be whatever race I want to be. As poor as I could get. As skinny as fat as short as tall as you could imagine. As straight, as gay, as confused, as whatever sexuality I am. As old or as young. As healthy, as cripple, as jacked up as I am. My FAC will always have a place for me.
Who I am is a fun loving, young adult who loves her sarcasm, who strives for her wildest dreams, who is obsessed with her phone and all the social media accounts, games and apps that come with it. I am someone who wants to make a difference for someone while still figuring out the right path for myself. That is why I joined. That is why I design. That is why I put myself through physical and emotional pain because its my FAC, my community, my Winston.