New Board Members Look Back on Own Dartmouth Arts Experience

Maeve K. Fairbanks '22

New members of the Hopkins Center Board of Advisors, Jennifer López '08 and Stanley Chou '93, found the Hop to be a formative part of their own Dartmouth experience by exposing them to new worldviews. Today they envision a future for the Hop where the arts are even more accessible to Dartmouth students. 

"I sincerely had a transformational experience through the Hopkins center," López said. Though she majored in Human Geography, during her time as a student, López was deeply involved with the arts at Dartmouth, receiving a minor in fine arts and sculpture, and spending time in The Donald Claflin jewelry studio, the ceramics studio and the woodworking studio. "Dartmouth opened the aperture of what [art] could be for me. I always understood myself to be a creator, but I didn't understand how that would actually afford me a life."

After college, López worked for the Hop for one year, designed jewelry and home goods, led a startup, and taught at Stanford. Now, López works as the Head of the Innovation Lab at Capital One; though her job is not explicitly in the arts, she still has the opportunity to create as she leads teams of designers, product managers, strategists and engineers in product design. 

Both López and Chou believe an important part of education is exposure to the arts because it can be an expression of anything. Chou, who majored in Government and minored in Asian studies, appreciates the way his involvement in the arts at Dartmouth enhanced his academic and career interests, though at first glance the arts and his fields of study seem to clash.

"I always thought the arts were something that could bring cultures closer together," Chou said. Chou lives and works in Hong Kong, where he and his wife are involved with the ballet and the Hong Kong arts center. Over the years, Chou has worked at Fidelity Ventures, BNP Paribas and The Chase Manhattan Bank before founding SCA International Ltd. "You can't say it's apolitical because a lot of art expresses political statements, but in a way, it's a safe place for two cultures to try to get to know each other. If I could bring a little bit of Asian art to Hanover, that's a good thing."

The Hop is unique, Chou believes, because of its accessibility. The Hop occupies a central location on campus and combines the performance arts and the physical arts in one place. And because Dartmouth is a small school located in a small town, it is not difficult for students to find space at the Hop to get involved. There are enough tickets to performances to go around, a higher likelihood of landing a role in a play, a greater chance of getting into art classes, and plenty of room for experimentation in the arts. 

"If you were very serious about the arts and design, maybe Dartmouth isn't your first choice [of college]," Chou said. "Is that something we can change? Maybe someone who is serious about the arts would think, 'I could go to a school in New York, but if I was at Dartmouth, maybe I would have better access to the arts.' It would be great if we could manage to live up to those expectations." 

López, likewise, was attracted to the Hop as a student because of its financial accessibility. She could buy tickets to performances for just five dollars. As a daughter of immigrants growing up in New York City, López's exposure to the arts before Dartmouth was limited by financial barriers. But at Dartmouth, she could afford to buy tickets to multiple shows every season. Now, as an adult working in New York City, López still looks online at the beginning of every season to see which shows in the city she might like to attend, buys two or four tickets, and finds friends to go with her after.

"Why do I go every season to get tickets to all of these things, some of which I know about, some of which I know very little about, some of which I don't even like? It's to expose myself," López said. "In the world of technology, you experience something by using the products. But in art you experience something by involving yourself in it, by exposing yourself to ideas that you wouldn't have otherwise."

Both López and Chou believe that the upcoming renovations to the building—expanding and modernizing the space—will help increase participation in the arts. Furthermore, they believe it's important to expand the menu of types of art showcased and continue to invite new artists to expose students to as many different varieties of art as possible.

"[The arts] make you a more empathetic person, a more creative person, [and] a more culturally attuned person," López said. "[In college] you're forming your core beliefs, and if part of [the college experience] is participation in the arts – like seeing a performance from a country you've never been to before – that becomes part of your worldview whether or not you know it. If [art] becomes part of your collegiate university experience, it becomes a part of your life."