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Burgin Paper: resurrection

Sofia Martin '26

Sep 29, 2023

This year, members of Mercersburg’s arts community have resurrected The Burgin Paper, a large sheet of paper located near the entrance to the Burgin Center for the Arts, on which any member of the Mercersburg Academy community can add art as they please. Or, they can respond to the weekly prompt, found on the Burgin Instagram page, @mburgburgin. Recent prompts have included “talk,” “beginning,” and “orgulloso,” for Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month. (Orgulloso translates to “proud” in Spanish.) 

 The Burgin Paper gives community members the chance to showcase masterpieces or notebook corner doodles. To some, the Burgin Paper is a new concept as it was originally created last year by Holden Walker ‘23 who “...wanted to do something that was large scale, but wanted it to be interactive,” according to Sydney Caretti, Director of Galleries. 

The idea for the Burgin Paper actually stemmed from graffiti and tagging culture, according to Kelly Dowling, Arts Department Head. “In 2017, I took students to England on a school trip, and one of the things we did was a graffiti tour and a graffiti workshop. I really loved how all the students, whether they identified as visual artists or not, got so excited about doing that work,” said Dowling, “When Holden Walker created the Burgin Paper, a couple of years ago, I kind of got that same feeling, that it opened up doodling and drawing to a bigger group of students than [would] sometimes take art classes.” 

Dowling’s hope for the resurrection of this is to unite the community through art. Caretti added that Walker wanted a way for students to tag on campus without getting in trouble. 

Dowling stated that her favorite aspect of the Burgin Paper is the unexpectedness of the posts. “You just can’t predict what people will put up there, so when people really surprise me with how they interpret the prompt and make me smile, that's what I like the best,” Indira Moshi ‘24  said. “[I enjoy that] everyone adds their own little bit of them to [the Burgin Paper] each day and seeing people add more and more,” said Caroline Hobbs ‘26, one of many students who have added flowers and line drawings. 

When considering the possibilities of the Burgin Paper, Moshi stated that making sure that people are keeping it classy is necessary as maintaining an appropriate nature was an issue the last time the Burgin Paper was open to students. Caretti said,  “Let it evolve; time will improve the Burgin Paper.” 

The Art Department encourages all members of the community to add to the ever-evolving paper the next time they find themselves in the Burgin.

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