But so many of us are wholly unwilling to let the door remain as a six-foot by three-foot piece of varnished or painted wood (or green or blue metal, for those of us in the Waldorf or the Plaza). We love to decorate our doors, with photos, news clippings and the occasional crime log entry. But some of us aren’t content with the requisite nametag and whiteboard and some obligatory photos. There are those doors that make you stop and look twice, to laugh at a bumper sticker stuck over the peephole or to read the printout of an article from The Onion.
I spent Sunday and Monday going, quite literally, door to door through all 33 dorms on campus. This page features a listing of some of the more interesting, more bizarre and more curious door art I encountered all over campus, as explained by the artists themselves-the rooms’ occupants.
The door to Stearns 105, one of the palatial three-room freshman suites, hosts a wide variety of amenities. The sheets of paper give inspirational top 10 lists. “A girl on our volleyball team made one for us,” resident Sarah Bruggeman ’06 explained. “The other was a touching one that our coach gave us before our game that was so sweet we put it up too.” A newspaper clipping describes a magic show featuring Bruggeman’s brother, Adam.
But the amusing lists and clippings are clearly not the focal point of the door. Noticeable from the other end of the narrow hallway is a large pink ribbon, nearly two feet tall. “I have a pink ribbon up to show support for breast cancer [research],” said Bruggeman. “My aunt-actually two of my aunts were diagnosed with this terrible disease. One is ‘cured’ and the other is still fighting it. “My family supports the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer foundation in any way we can. [My brother performed] magic shows-I was an assistant-for inner-city schools around Denver. All the profits we made we donated to breast cancer. My mom mailed me the ribbon and sign as well as Adam’s article, so I put them up on my door to show support here.”
An RC in Morrow, Janak Chandrasoma ’04 has a relatively plain door. It does not feature the photos and clippings found on many other doors on campus. In their place, a simple mirror, the same that comes standard with many rooms on campus. “The reasons for [the mirror on] my door are threefold,” said Chandrasoma.
“First, when I’m running out the door on my way to class, I always forget to check to see if my hair looks okay. I never comb it, and so sometimes it can be pretty frightening. This way, as I’m locking my door, I kill two birds with one stone,” he said.
“Second, It’s the last thing you’d expect to see on a door. I find that I think a lot about body image on campus. It’s really interesting that the people who comment on my door are predominantly women, and that they all have an odd dislike for the mirror. People are not used to seeing themselves when they walk around from day to day. When they see the door, they are put off by what they see and often check themselves to see if they look all right. My door makes people look at themselves. I like that. I like the idea that that is the price to pay for coming to see me. If people are all right with what they see, then they won’t avoid my door. Maybe someone will see themselves and a mirror in a context that is not in a bathroom with a toothbrush, and they will decide to look inside themselves,” he said.
“And third, it looks pretty cool.”
Chris Palacios ’04 decorated the door to his room in La Casa with a display of flags reminiscent of the current display in the Campus Center atrium. “Flags are artifacts expressive of the cultures of certain times and places,” said Palacios. “That’s why I chose to line my door with the flags of the countries whose official language is Spanish. There are around 35 million Hispanics currently living in the U.S., all with very diverse backgrounds. It’s very important to me that people acknowledge that Hispanic and Latino culture in the U.S. is created when the cultures of these people from various countries collide.”
Palacios’ display is particularly timely right now. “Hispanic Heritage Month began on Sept. 15,” he said. Seven Latin American countries celebrate the anniversary of their independence within a week of that date. “Having the flags on my door is a great way to facilitate discussions about Latin culture with my friends,” he said.
In addition to some cartoons and photos, Jessica Willard ’04E’s door features numerous nametags and some shimmery blue wrapping paper and a matching garland framing the entrance. “I suppose my door is pretty elaborate at this point, but it’s basically something that happened gradually,” Willard said.
“Freshman year, I only had some comics-from the door of my room at home-and the name tag thing that my RC made me. After being here three years I’ve had time to pick up all sorts of pictures and random doodads to hang on it.” As her door became more and more decorated, so did her walls. “I probably have twice as many posters, pictures, post cards and magazine clippings on my walls as I did when I first came here … I see a bare surface and I want to cover it with something.”
As for inspiration, Willard cites, of all things, college professors. “My father works as a professor at a University, and I was always impressed as a kid by the amount of effort that some of the professors put into decorating their doors. It seemed only natural to do the same. I think its more inviting and personable,” she said.
Despite the presence of a whiteboard fairly prominent in the center of the door, friends of the residents of Moore 402 have succumbed to the urge to leave notes and pictures on the heavily lacquered door instead. “People are always stopping to stare at [the door], and they often comment on it,” said Angie Han ’05.
The door has become something of a collage for the residents of the Asian Culture House. “What makes our door especially unique, though, is our bunny collection. Somebody-we don’t know who-drew a bunny on our whiteboard a few weeks ago. We thought it was cute and scrawled ‘DRAW US A BUNNY!’ across the bottom of our whiteboard,” said Han. “Since then, plenty of people have heeded our call; to date, we have 18 different bunnies (plus two repeats). Our door is starting to resemble some sort of community art gallery.”