The plans of Geenen, PhD student at the ET Department of Design Engineering, have been a long time coming. 'I studied physics at the University of Amsterdam. During an exchange trip in Australia, I saw a female professor in the classroom for the first time. That was a different experience, but also a breath of fresh air. Suddenly I had a role model to whom I could relate and who offered me perspective.'
Geenen then devoted her thesis to the theme of role models. When she started her PhD track at the UT in 2018 and attended a defence in the Waaier, she noticed that the hall only had portraits of 'old, white men', the former rectors of UT. That is why, via the Incentive Fund, she came to the Campus Art Advisory Committee, which has made €10,000 available for the creation of a diversity artwork.
Not a replacement, but an enrichment
The new work of art is absolutely not intended to replace the portraits of the former rectors, Geenen emphasises. 'It is an addition,' she says. 'You should not disregard your past, but we can make it much more visible that this is a place for people from all walks of life. I see it as an enrichment. Whoever you are and wherever you come from, everyone needs a role model.'
The next step is the search for an artist. 'That is all new to me,' says Geenen, who does not want to be pinned down to what the artwork should eventually look like. 'Whether it is 2D, 3D, static or digital, we still have to decide. Although I do have a preference for a collage of different portraits. But of course there must be plenty of room for interpretation on the artists' side.
The artwork is intended to be finished before the 60th dies natalis of the UT, in November this year.
Peter-Paul Verbeek: 'About time for such a work of art'
Peter-Paul Verbeek, chairman of the Campus Art Advisory Committee, says that it is 'about time for such a work of art'. 'Other universities in the Netherlands show their diverse side much more. This is a wonderful idea and something that fits in very well with the UT. This university is more than just white men in togas. Within the CAAC we have a special budget for this kind of guerrilla art. This idea fits very well with that. We're committing to this.'