Committed to using the arts as a means to build bridges between communities, Pablo Delano, professor of fine arts, invited internationally-recognized luthier William Cumpiano to teach a stringed instrument-building workshop open to Trinity students and the general public from Hartford and beyond.
Nine students participated in the week-long workshop, which took place in Trinity’s Wiggins Sculpture Studio. Most had no prior woodworking experience, yet with Cumpiano’s expert instruction, each built his or her own tiple (pronounced tee-play), a traditional Puerto Rican five-stringed instrument. Cumpiano hopes the workshop, which he has also offered in Chicago for the past eight years, will help revive interest in the instrument, which is overshadowed by its bigger brother, the Puerto Rican cuatro.
Through a partnership with Center Church, whose community outreach efforts were a key to the program’s success, the workshop attracted a diverse array of students. Trinity’s Center for Urban and Global Studies was also instrumental in funding the project.
“I felt this workshop would offer a life-changing opportunity for our students as well as community members,” Delano said. “I believe in reciprocal learning. I think it’s important that we acknowledge that, while Trinity may have a lot to teach, we also have a lot to learn from our community.”
Nicole Muto-Graves ’15, an ethnomusicology major, was among the participants.
“It was nice to get perspectives from people throughout the city,” she said. “Any time you’re doing something creative with other people, it bonds you together.”
Delano, who teaches photography at Trinity, captured the process on camera.
“Documenting how you build [the instrument] is valuable and worthwhile, but what I enjoyed most was watching the interactions among people,” he said. “People who would never otherwise meet developed friendships and helped each other with the shared mission of completing the instrument. I hope to evoke something of that human bond in my pictures.”