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April 21, 2004: On the Campus

Maia Schweizer ’04, a geosciences major, with several life--size oil portraits she completed for her certificate in visual arts. (ricardo barros)

Mixing it up

By Kate Swearengen ’04

Nudes at 185 Nassau

Maia Schweizer ’04 is going to Oxford next year on a Marshall scholarship. A geosciences major and a candidate for a certificate in the visual arts, Schweitzer visited Norway over fall break to examine a volcanic hot spring thought to be a terrestrial representation of Mars’s topography. Upon her return, she got busy examining the topography of Princeton students.

For her visual-arts certificate, Schweitzer decided to paint life-size portraits of models in positions of repose or looking in the mirror. Her project was to be an exploration of how people look at themselves, of body language and consciousness.

Her signs, posted around Frist, read: “Wanted: Models to pose for my senior thesis. Attire negotiable.”

A recent exhibit of Schweizer’s work at 185 Nassau showed exactly what was meant by negotiable attire. Some models had posed fully clothed; some in complete or partial states of undress. The figures were painted in such a way that the bright backgrounds often showed beneath, sometimes through jeans, sometimes through T-shirts.

Shawn Sindelar ’04, one of the students who posed for Schweizer, praised the exhibit: “I’m certainly not going to say anything negative about my own body. I think it looks spectacular.”

Senior class pub night

On March 3 the senior class had its second Pub Night at the Annex, that subterranean Princeton landmark of warm food and cold beers. The special on drinks lasted from 10 p.m. until midnight, and students had their hands stamped at the door, where a waiter did an especially scrupulous job of matching drivers’ licenses to faces. Those cleared for entry were stamped on the back of the hand in a vivid purple ink.

The turnout was diverse, but there was little mixing, with tables segregated by eating club or dorm. Students sat where they could see the door, shouting out when they recognized someone they knew or wanted a waiter to bring an order of cheese fries. A few graduate students lurked on the periphery, looking as though they wished they had gone to the Triumph brewery, down the road.

Purim celebrations

March 7 was Purim, the holiday that commemorates the failure of a plot to kill the Jews of Persia. At Princeton it was celebrated with two events — a Saturday-night party at the Center for Jewish Life, and a Sunday-night celebration at Tower Club, hosted by Rabbi Eitan and Gitty Webb of Chabad—Lubavitch.

On Purim, Jews are obligated to partake of a special festive meal and to drink until they cannot tell the difference between “cursed be Haman” — the villain of the Purim story — and “blessed be Mordechai,” one of its heroes. Religious opinion differs as to what degree of drunkenness the Talmud mandates. There was beer on hand so that those of age could find out for themselves. Gitty cooked all the food, a sumptuous kosher feast that featured hamantaschen, triangle-shaped pastries stuffed with fruit jam, chocolate, or other fillings.

It is tradition on Purim to dress in costume. Some of the students attempted costumes by donning straw hats. Gitty was dressed as a cowgirl, and Rabbi Eitan wore chaps and an enormous orange foam cowboy hat. Leibel, the Webbs’ two-year-old son, wore a fuzzy cow costume.

Matisyahu, a four-person, Jewish reggae band, played two sets. Its frontman, before becoming observant, had been a member of the Dead Head crowd who had followed the psychedelic band Phish across the country. With lyrics like “Torah food for my brain let it rain ’til I drown, thunder! Let the blessings come down!” the group is impossible to pigeonhole.

One guest — a friend of the Webbs from New York — came dressed as a chicken, complete with rubber claws that strapped onto the back of his shoes. The chicken was a marvelous dancer, at one point grabbing a man in a tall black hat and pulling him out onto the middle of the floor. The two jigged and high-kicked, feathered head and black hat nearing the ceiling, while the crowd clapped.

A Near Eastern studies major, Kate Swearengen ’04 is from Columbia, Missouri.

On the Campus Online: Go to to read about Jen Albinson ’05’s spring break trip to Cuba.



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