Growing up in Miami, Fla., Melinda Marlén Agron '14 often imagined an idyllic college town. "I just never knew where that was," she says. "When I first visited Dartmouth I fell immediately in love with the College, Hanover, and everything both had to offer."
Once drawn in by the beauty of the bucolic setting, Agron turned her attention to the serious side of scholarship, reflecting on the importance of academic research in general and its relevance to architecture, her chosen field of study.
"Research provides students the opportunity to go beyond the limitations imposed by classroom learning," she says. "It is a unique chance for students to explore a topic they are interested in with very few limitations."
In coming days, Dartmouth Now will profile undergraduate students engaged in research, scholarship, and creativity:
Of a more specific application of research to her studies, Agron says, "undergraduate research has been important to me as an opportunity to explore the multifaceted nature of art creation. I think that if I had taken only studio art classes, I would have been left with an impression of art making as an almost mechanical process. Conducting my own research has allowed me to instead explore art making as an intuitive reaction to everything I experience around me."
Her exploration led Agron to a visualization of interstices—spaces between objects or components. She creates three-dimensional works designed to transform the perception of spaces. Agron takes spaces that feel static and attempts to enliven them with constructions that draw people's attention into the spaces, so as to experience these environments in new ways.
"I aspire to enliven the day-to-day experience of spaces. Rather than walking straight through a particular room or walkway, I want to surprise passersby with something unexpected, something that causes them to pause in their routine and reflect on some aspect of their everyday reality that they may never before have considered," she says.
Professor of Studio Art Esmé Thompson, Agron's adviser, served as "a constant guide and support system since I began my research," Agron says. "Though I had never taken a class with her, she was immediately receptive to everything I was thinking and interested in exploring."
"Melinda came into honors with a focus in architecture, and throughout the past two terms she has been truly innovative in her exploration of spaces and materials," says Thompson. "Rather than designing a space to be built, she has instead worked to respond and react to existing spaces, and offer the viewer the opportunity to experience them in new and unexpected ways. She exemplifies the very best of what honors research in studio art can be."
Agron is currently applying for jobs in the art world, with hopes of working in either a gallery or museum.