While contemplating how to tell the story of the university's opening of a new center for the arts, those of us who make Virginia Tech Magazine were captivated by the underlying purpose of the university's arts initiative. Enacting a vision long championed by President Charles W. Steger, the university and its educators aim to institutionalize the creativity and sensory learning that is intrinsic to the arts—and to all academic endeavors.
Consider this excerpt from a June 2013 column that Steger wrote for the Roanoke Times:
Since the beginning of humankind, our ancestors learned about the world around them through sensory perception: touching, feeling, seeing, smelling, and hearing. This represents a whole other way of experiencing and perceiving the nature of our being, as opposed to the modern analytical approach. Indeed, it is an alternative way of thinking and analyzing. ... To sustain the arts, we should intentionally foster interplay between science, technology and the arts. The challenges of the 21st century demand creative processes that stem from the realization that design, aesthetics and technological development have become symbiotic.
To tell this story of transformation in students' lives and intellects, we hit upon a universal symbol of transformation: the superhero. And the use of panels, or sequential art—often seen in comic strips and graphic novels—streamlines the presentation of an expansive topic. The panels are the work of Steven White (communication studies '92), a web developer with University Relations.