Article on the red balloon project.

Five Williams College students orchestrated a 24-hour art installation Friday that involved tying 380 helium balloons around campus and along Spring Street.

The balloons served as place markers for note cards that had been inscribed with a memory connected to each site.

Katharine Josephson, a senior art and art history major from New Haven, Conn., said the installation was a group assignment for one of her classes, “Post Studio Practice,” taught by Peggy Diggs. She and her classmates spent nearly two weeks gathering place-specific memories from students, faculty and staff.

Rest below. Kudos to all involved. And check out Diana Davis’s ’07 great pictures.

“The assignment asked to break the Williams bubble,” Josephson said. “We wanted people to think about where they were walking and think about what that place might have meant to other people.”

Even though the memories came from people associated with the college, Josephson said a positive response came from the wider community when she was walking the streets clutching 80 balloons at a time.

“Trucks were driving by and honking and giving the thumbs up,” she said.

She said one dance professor grew teary after reading memories of students from the note cards.

“She thought it was really beautiful,” Josephson said.

The memories, all anonymous, included the following:

“This is where I had a snowball fight my freshman year.”

“This is where I found out my father had cancer. Here’s where I realized he was more than just tall.”

Kimberly Ulmer, a senior biology major from Cohasset, Maine; Tyler Auer, a senior art and geo-sciences major from Fairfield, Conn.; Gurcag Poyraz, a senior economics major from Izmir, Turkey; and Eve Streicker, a sophomore art major from Providence, R.I., all helped organize and install the outdoor balloon exhibit.

Almost as soon as the balloons were up, Josephson said, she and her classmates had to take them down again.

“The helium only lasts 12 hours,” she said, just before dusk. “Some are already starting to waver.”

She said she may make more information available online, however, on student blog sites.

Hope so.

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