Geneva from a Student’s Perspective – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Geneva from a Student’s Perspective

Setting out to provide prospective students and the HWS community with a “student’s perspective” of the Finger Lakes region, Loren Marshall ’13 and Elva Ye ’13 created artwork to be used by the Colleges in various mailings and publications.

“We thought that something that was produced by students and was creative was needed as a way to best describe to prospective students and their parents what Geneva and the Finger Lakes are like as backdrops for the HWS experience,” says Assistant Professor of Architectural Studies Kirin Makker, who directed the project. “The project’s success is in offering the Colleges a huge file of personalized artistic impressions of what lies beyond HWS’ borders.”

Though the initial project idea was to create an “Intro to Geneva Book” to distribute to prospective students at the start of campus tours, the format of the project changed when the group decided that producing as much artwork as possible would be more beneficial than rushing the artwork into book form. Ye and Marshall produced a versatile array of artwork – ranging from photographs to ink drawings to watercolors and silkscreen prints – that can be used by admissions and the office of communications for a number of different purposes. Makker says there is already discussion of using the artwork in the Pulteney Street Survey, in mailers to current and prospective students, on the HWS website, and in exhibitions in town and on campus.

The project spanned 10 weeks, during which Ye and Marshall spent 40 hours a week producing artwork. The two also met with Makker on a weekly basis. As director, she was responsible for organizing critiques with the admissions and communications staff, helping the students set goals for the project, guiding them in different artistic techniques, and serving as the primary critic on the artwork itself. Ultimately, however, decisions on the project came down to Ye and Marshall.

“She is an excellent director of the project,” says Ye, who earned her B.A. in architectural studies and studio art magna cum laude from William Smith. “She gave us complete ownership of the project, which really helped me learn to think more critically about my work.”

Assistant Professor of Architectural Studies Jeffrey Blankenship also served as a critic for the project and offered “essential feedback throughout the summer,” says Makker.

Though it was a substantial amount of work and a large time commitment, Ye says that it was very relaxing because it was something she enjoys doing. She often found herself exceeding her eight hour work day because she loved working on the project so much.

Having spent her past three summers in Geneva, Ye has had an all-encompassing experience of the area as both a student and a local resident. The time spent in different venues downtown and interacting with members of the community have given her what she calls, a “unique” perspective on life at HWS.

“I am very excited that I can finally share my experience with students,” says Ye. “And the best thing about it is that I can do it through my artwork, which is another part of me that is deeply inspired by people and venues in Geneva.”

As for the outcome of the project, Makker says she is “thrilled,” and describes the work as “stunning, thoughtful, and inspired.”

The project is still a work in progress, as Ye, who was recently hired as a photographer by the office of communications, plans to continue working on it in her free time.

“This is not only a great way for prospective students to know about the school and town, but also a fun project to do for documenting changes in Geneva,” says Ye. “I really hope that HWS can sponsor students every three to five years to do a similar project.”

As a student, Ye was the recipient of Arthur Dove Award, Judith Lowe Hyatt Award, the Senior Architecture Prize for Leadership, Service and Academic Achievement, and was the recipient of the Eric Cohler ’81 Award.

Marshall is the recipient of the Architectural Studies Faculty Prize; the Leo Srole Prize in Urban Studies and the Dexheimer Student Trustee Recognition Award.

Both were members of the Architecture Society and Arts Collective.

Work by Ye can be found at



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