Carnegie Mellon University

Center for the Arts in Society

Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences and College of Fine Arts


2024 “Meeting of the Minds” Award for Artistic Excellence

Congratulations to the following undergraduate student winners of the 2024 “Meeting of the Minds” Award for Artistic Excellence! 

View the presentations 

John Henley, "Anthropogenic Fossils: Encountering Landscape Materialities"

The Anthropocene is far reaching: nearly every corner of earth shows evidence of human impact. However, its globalized nature should not overshadow its regional idiosyncrasies. Using Pittsburgh’s post-industrial condition as a case study, this project visualizes these differences, revealing divergent impressions of what human influence means. Pittsburgh’s industry created the circumstance for rapid material turnover like no other: the harvesting of coal, conversion to coke, input of iron, output of steel. One consequence of that industrial activity is the settling of trace metals within the soil of the landscape. The locations and concentrations of these non-indigenous trace metals reveals highly regional variation, depending on the location and its industrial legacy. Each point on the map has its own specific profile of anthropogenic scars. This project takes soil harvested from diverse locations and visualizes their invisible trace metal contents. The raw earth has been processed to pure clay and cast to vessel forms. Transformed in a pit fire, the metals found within and around the clay body chemically react to generate particular colors and textures. The vessel becomes a portrait of a place and its environmental legacy. From telluric matter to human artifact, it not only topographically represents a place, it materially is a place, revealing spatial and temporal implications that define the Anthropocene.

Ellis Jones, "Dare Not Speak: Queer Self-Censorship in Victorian Literature"

The Picture of Dorian Gray and Little Women were both published, revised by their authors, and then republished. This project explores those edits and argues that they were made in order to obscure queer content within the novels. This project consists of both a Dietrich Senior Honors Thesis in the form of a written essay and a BXA Capstone Project in the form of a hand-bound copy of each book, specifically designed to highlight the changes.

Carmyn Tolento, "Interplanetary Harmonics"

“Interplanetary Harmonics” endeavors to create an immersive audio experience by developing software that allows users to listen to audio files and stream music as it would be heard on the surface of planets within our solar system. Leveraging the capabilities of MAX/MSP, the program enables users to select a planet and experience music with the effects of sound waves traveling through the medium of the planet’s atmosphere. The integration of sound, chemical composition, and temperature data on planetary atmospheres enhances the auditory experience, fostering an understanding of the harmony between the cosmos and sound. This project serves not only as an engaging auditory experience but also as an educational and artistic tool, with potential applications in planetariums, schools, immersive art installations, and live performances. The ultimate goal is to bridge the gap between science and music, deepening our appreciation for the cosmic worlds around us.

Madeline Miller & Jeremy Pitzer, "Micromegas 2023"

What determines our humanity? How do we find meaning and connection in an unfathomably vast universe? In the eighteenth century, Voltaire asked these questions with his short story “Micromegas,” arguably the first ever piece of speculative fiction. Our Micromegas, a theatricalized adaptation of the original, forms a love story from the original text, and delves deeper into the sci-fi and existentialist qualities of the story. Our production of it, fully realized at the Irma Freeman Center in August 2023, brought together a medley of design elements to create a science fiction spectacle that recontextualized Voltaire’s original questions in a 21st century understanding of humanity.