‘Orange’ you glad for campus art?

Old Union now boasts a new art piece in its eclectic collection: storybook panels narrating a day in the life of a melancholic orange.

The quirky installation, titled “More Than Enough for an Orange,” debuted at On Call Café last Thursday. Arbitrary Ink Collective, a student art group founded last winter, created and unveiled the piece. The collective seeks to embrace a sense of silliness through art and “make solitary art practices collaborative,” said founder Rima Makaryan ’24. 

In the past year, Arbitrary Ink has worked on a variety of multidisciplinary projects. Last spring, club members set up a table in White Plaza to collect anonymous student responses to the question, “what makes you feel alive?”, which club member Chase Klavon ’25 assembled into a poem. Earlier this month, the collective also displayed posters of elaborately-designed original characters across campus before they were taken down.

The installation at On Call Café was inspired by two of their previous orange-related projects – a series of late night photographs and a short story written by Klavon. Markaryan said the final piece was created with input from the entire collective, whose members come from a variety of disciplines spanning creative writing to music.

“The story that you’re seeing right now is a culmination of layers and layers of creative energy being put into something,” Makaryan said. “Everyone has touched every single piece of paper.” 

Arbitrary Ink members donned fluorescent-colored wigs and took a series of late night photographs with oranges, which were ultimately used to generate the story behind “More Than Enough for an Orange.” (Courtesy of Rima Makaryan)

Finding inspiration in the ‘arbitrary’

Makaryan was first inspired to create the collective after being repeatedly told by an architecture professor that her designs were too “arbitrary.” 

“I didn’t really know what that meant, and I was offended,” Makaryan said. “So I looked into the word and dug into all of its definitions, and found it really fascinating why it has this negative connotation to it.” 

This curiosity spilled over into conversations between Makaryan and friends about forming an arts community based around “arbitrariness” – one where students could “do art, with artists,” per the club’s tagline, without being inhibited by the need to create with a specific purpose. After receiving funding from the Institute for Diversity in the Arts, Makaryan sent out applications to join the collective last February. 

For artists like Angela Wei ’25, Arbitrary Ink has been a haven from fast-paced Stanford culture.

“At Stanford, we’re always thinking – ten weeks, let’s finish a project, ten weeks, let’s do this thing. We just want progress, progress, progress,” Wei said. “So much of the beauty of Arbitrary Ink is slowing down.” 

According to Wei, the club’s financial officer, Arbitrary Ink aims to create art that can only exist in one physical space, as a way to counteract the “fast digital world” we inhabit. As a result, the club has chosen not to maintain any public social media accounts for the past year, although Makaryan said that the club is actively discussing whether to create a social media presence in the future. 

Klavon, a junior, joined Arbitrary Ink last spring after being frustrated with the strict “hierarchy” within other campus art groups. She has returned for weekly meetings ever since because of the club’s casual and supportive atmosphere.

“I was so happy to have found other like-minded people who just wanted to create freely… without pressures from the world or other people around you,” Klavon said.  

Bringing art to public spaces 

Wei hopes that “More Than Enough for an Orange,” and other Arbitrary Ink projects like it, can spark conversations. 

“My ideal would be that people walk into On Call and are like, ‘Oh, what is that?’ and then take a look,” Wei said. “Not to be achieving their career goals, not to do something efficient and good, but just to loaf around and look at something cool.” 

Last Thursday’s art launch at On Call included art-making activities for prospective members at 7 to 8 p.m, which was then opened to all at 8 p.m. 

“I saw there were all these opportunities to collaborate with other people like musicians, filmmakers, writers, and so this seemed like kind of a good way to branch outside of my comfort zone,” said Victoria Lin ’27, a frosh interested in joining the collective. 

On Call’s creative director Laura Futamura ’24 said she was excited to collaborate with Arbitrary Ink because of the values that On Call shares with the collective. 

“It’s all about bringing people together in community and creating a space where you can see other people, and art is a way of representing people at their very core,” Futamura said. 

Over the next year, Arbitrary Ink hopes to take on larger projects such as three dimensional installations, said Makaryan. Above all, she said that the collective aims to maintain its sense of creative energy, no matter how “silly” the end result might be. 

“We like to take the art seriously, and not take ourselves as people too seriously,” Makaryan said. “We’re just recognizing that being human is a fundamentally silly experience.”