Meet the Majors

Sheena Kuhn ’22

Dance and Studio Art, Community Engagement and Social Change Concentration

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About Sheena

Class of 2022

Hometown: New York City, NY

Dance and Studio Art, Community Engagement and Social Change Concentration

House: Comstock

Describe your major for someone who has never heard of your field before.
I move my body in space and call it art!

What’s your all-time favorite Smith memory?
Sunbathing by the crew house. That little amphitheater is the best place to soak in sunlight and make art—even in the late fall/early spring, it traps heat and keeps me warm.

Did you ever have trouble deciding on a major? What, ultimately, helped you decide?
I had so much trouble deciding my major—initially intending to be a study of women and gender (SWG) major but ultimately deciding that something more creative was the only way I was going to feel motivated and joyful during my time here. Not to mention, the dance and art communities just made me feel so loved because they are small and tight-knit.

Could you explain a concentration and why did you choose a community engagement and social change (CESC) concentration for yours?
A concentration is like an additional lens of expertise through which to pursue your interests. I chose the CESC one because it allows me to incorporate community building into my art practice.

How do you think your dance major and CESC concentration fit together or complement each other?
Dance is an embodied art form and therefore a non-traditional way of learning. I feel like that fits right into my concentration because community-building means being in space with other bodies and not just discussing theory or reading/writing. It's about actually showing up and caring tangibly.

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If someone was considering a CESC concentration, what would you tell them?
Do it! There is so much room for exploration that I can't imagine anyone leaving without having gained some new, resonant knowledge/experience. Plus, the people behind the concentration all care so much that they will be sure to help you decide where you want to do your community work (even as the answer to this changes over your time at Smith).

Describe a moment from a class (from your major or outside of it) that particularly sticks with you.
I had a beautiful duet with a dear friend and core collaborator in my contact improvisation class fall 2021. We entered a state of so much trust and flow that our movement dared to become risky, allowing so much space for surprise and delight. I love how ungentle and thereby rambunctious/playful it was, which was only possible because we trusted each other so much to still be safe and hold each other when it counted.

How did living in eight countries influence how you approached your work at Smith?
Living in so many places made me hyper-aware of the different perspectives we can draw from at any given time. It also reminded me not to get too caught up in the ways of thinking/feeling that are more prominent at Smith. All ways of experiencing are important, and there is so much to learn when we give up intellectual rigidity and become available to difference.

If another student was considering graduating a year early, what advice would you give them, based on your own experience?
Stay ahead of the bureaucratic process. It will be stressful, but finding a couple of trusted people in the administration to help you navigate it will make all the difference. Also, don't sacrifice your interests to accelerate. Make sure to still take classes and pursue extracurriculars you like (as reasonable) so that your acceleration is enriching/fun and not just chaotic/stressful.

Trust that you belong here as much as anyone else. You deserve to take up this space, and you deserve to find ways of doing this that feel good to you.

What’s your “Big Dream” for your future?
To continue making art with my collaborators and live a cozy, joyful life!

What spot on campus will you miss the most?
I will miss the lawn by the President's House that overlooks Paradise Pond. I have had so many fun dance improv sessions there, not to mention lazy picnics and study dates.

Was there a special moment or tradition in a house that you'll always remember?
Quad cheer is my favorite tradition because it kicks off the school year with such a strong sense of community and boldness. I find it so, so energizing and also just a great opportunity to meet the new people in my house and show off Comstock pride.

If you could tell an incoming first-year anything about Smith, what would it be?
It's normal to feel out of place in the beginning, but trust that you belong here as much as anyone else. You deserve to take up this space, and you deserve to find ways of doing this that feel good to you. Don't get too bogged down by structures, institutional or social, and just pursue what brings you pleasure. That is revolutionary and enough in itself.

What do you think has been the most “Smithie” thing you’ve done in life so far?
I created alt-text for the National Performance Network, which did not previously have this accessibility feature. My disability justice commitment definitely kicked off at Smith thanks to the American Studies department and the caring/tenacious students in it; so, I am proud to claim that work as a distinctly Smithie accomplishment.

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