Colorado School of Mines

Achieving that ‘High Grade’ at School of Mines

CSM releases annual art and literary journal

Posted 4/25/17

Students at the Colorado School of Mines are more than just aspiring engineers, scientists and mathematicians — they are also skilled artists and creative writers.

They seem to be total opposites, but engineering and art collide together …

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Colorado School of Mines

Achieving that ‘High Grade’ at School of Mines

CSM releases annual art and literary journal

Posted

Students at the Colorado School of Mines are more than just aspiring engineers, scientists and mathematicians — they are also skilled artists and creative writers.

They seem to be total opposites, but engineering and art collide together surprisingly well, said Rebecca Reeve, 22, a senior studying mechanical engineering who has been painting nearly all of her life.

“Art encourages people to think outside the box,” Reeve said. “It’s huge to be able to think outside of the box with engineering.”

On April 14, about 150 people attended a release party at the Foothills Art Center for Mines’ 41st edition of “High Grade” — the school’s annual art and literary journal. The journal features varied genres of art in mediums including visual arts, creative writing and music. The content is submitted by students, faculty, staff, alumni or anybody with an affiliation to Mines.

“A lot of people don’t realize that engineers are really creative,” said Wenli Dickinson, the journal’s editor-in-chief, who is a junior studying environmental engineering. “The quality of the journal shows that we are more than just engineers.”

“High Grade” has had its original name since its founding in 1976 — but the journal itself has evolved a lot. It started out as a couple of standard-sized pages stapled together, with the content printed in black and white. Modern versions are a full-color, bound book of about 100 pages.

The name “High Grade” has a couple of different interpretations, said Toni Lefton, a professor in Mines’ Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Department who has been the faculty adviser for “High Grade” for 18 years.

Defined, high grade refers to a top-quality ore that is rich in metal value and is commercially profitable, Lefton said. But students around campus often think of it as how hard they work to obtain good grades, she added.

Either way, Lefton said, “High Grade” creates a legacy that reflects upon the creativity of the Mines community — past, present and into the future.

This year’s journal features more than 50 works of submitted pieces, not including web-exclusive content such as music and fiction that wasn’t printed in the journal.

A lot of the 2017 content has the common theme of aging and the passing of time, which served as a framework of sorts for the journal, Dickinson said.

Each year, the “High Grade” staff of Lefton and about 25 Mines students, receives hundreds of submissions, which then go through a jury process to select which submissions will be published in “High Grade.”

The journal is not just a bunch of engineers casually getting together to throw some artwork together to pass out around campus, Reeve said.

“`High Grade’ is a hidden gem of our school,” she added.

In addition to their academic course load, the students work hard to produce a quality journal, Lefton said.

“It’s a labor of love,” she said. “These students don’t get academic credit for this.”

Nationally, a hot term in education is STEAM, which integrates arts and design into STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — subjects, Lefton said.

Although Mines is a world renowned university for engineering and applied science, there is much more that goes on at Mines, Lefton said. There are robust extracurricular activities and clubs for students to get involved with athletics, as well as visual and performing arts, she added.

“Mines is a small STEM school, but the arts are alive here, too,” Lefton said. “We get a little steamy.”

High Grade, CSM, School of Mines, art, literary journal

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