UArts Dean’s Vintage Typewriter Prompt Proves To Be Huge Hit

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Sheryl Oring sitting at her typewriter in Center City
Image via Billy Penn at WHYY.
Sheryl Oring, recently appointed dean of the University of the Arts’ School of Arts, brought her internationally acclaimed typewriting performance with her.

Sheryl Oring, recently appointed dean of the University of the Arts’ School of Arts, brought her internationally acclaimed typewriting performance with her – but with some small adjustments, writes Danya Henninger for Billy Penn at WHYY.

During a late summer BBQ at the center of Philadelphia, Oring put on a bright red dress, set in front of a table holding a red vintage typewriter, and recorded students’ answers to a simple question: “What does art mean to you?”

She typed their answers on 3-by-5-inch notecards, which were then clipped up on clotheslines stretching between trees at the edge of the campus courtyard. The responses ranged from funny to profound.

“Art is sharing your experiences with other people in the hopes of connecting with them,” dictated one student. “It’s a form of self-expression, touching deep inside of yourself.”

Oring has been doing her “I Wish to Say” performances for nearly two decades. Usually, she types postcards to U.S. presidents, and this time she decided to try out the technique with students.

“The typewriter is a bit of a novelty,” said Oring. “[Students] saw it when they came in and they were all like, ‘What’s that? Why is the typewriter there?’ So they get curious, which is a really important aspect of the work.”

Read more about Sheryl Oring’s typewriting performance at the University of the Arts in Billy Penn at WHYY.

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