Brian Peterson is Central’s associate dean for curriculum and faculty development and holds a doctorate in economics. Scottie Yang ’18, from Oskaloosa, Iowa, just received his bachelor’s degree in art. Both love caped crusaders who make it their mission to save the world.
Peterson taught a Central class about superheroes. Yang—well, by Peterson’s definition—he might be one.
Peterson muses about the significance of superheroes in a July 17, 2017, article “The Super-selfie: What Superheroes Say About Us” in the online magazine Medium.
“Superheroes give us confidence to be the people we want to be,” he suggests.
Peterson writes that in his first-year seminar, Everyday (Super)Heroes, “one of the last essays I ask students to write answers the prompt, ‘Is there a superhero in you?’”
Yang didn’t take Peterson’s class. In fact, the two have yet to meet formally. But one of Yang’s drawings in a collage titled “Comical Life of a College Student” seems to answer Peterson’s question. The piece was featured during Yang’s senior art showcase this spring in Mills Gallery in the Lubbers Center for Visual Arts.
“My artwork focuses on narrative illustration in ink of problems and everyday life of … an Asian-American … dealing with being a first-generation college student and the weight that the student carries from his own life at home and through college,” writes Yang in his artist’s statement. He describes many of his images as “comical relief,” but adds, “some darker images display … challenges I’ve gone through in the cycle of college life.”
In one of those darker images, above, a figure reaches up the face of a sheer cliff. It grasps a tenuous fingerhold with an incredibly long arm and a look of fear-conquering hope and determination.
The first time he sees the drawing, Peterson is visibly moved. “Wow!” he says. He pauses, taking it in. “That’s really good.”