Illustration by Courtesy of Megan Dickerson
One of the works from “Doodle: An Exhibit of Marginal
By Kate Bristow
Daily Bruin Contributor
Whether it’s shading in the round letters of words,
sketching war scenes, tracing circles, or designing intricate
evening gowns, doodling is a universal activity that brings out the
dormant artist in every student.
Bringing the lecture note doodles of UCLA students to the public
eye, the student art exhibit, “Doodle: An Exhibit of Marginal
Art,” will be displayed in the Powell Library Rotunda from
June 10 to 17.
The idea for an art exhibit that features students’
doodles came to fourth-year history student Megan Dickerson and a
friend while they visited an art exhibit at the Los Angeles County
Museum of Modern Art two years ago.
“We started to think about the art that we put into our
notes and whether anything we did could compare to the sketches
here, on the wall,” Dickerson said. “It was kind of a
joint idea, but he graduated and now that I’m doing the
museum studies minor I decided to do it on my own.”
The museum studies minor is a relatively new minor through the
art history department that incorporates classes from anthropology,
art history and world arts and cultures. Dickerson is putting
together “Doodle: An Exhibition of Marginal Art” as
part of a world arts and culture 199 independent studies course,
for which she asked folklore and mythology Professor Patrick Polk
to be her faculty advisor.
“WAC 199 gives students a chance to choose a specific
interest and go deeper into what is covered only briefly in their
classes,” Polk said. “It has a real hands-on aspect to
Dickerson meets once a week with Polk to discuss her progress
and ideas. Normally all of the many tasks involved in putting on an
art exhibit would be divided among a number of people, but in the
case of the doodle exhibit, Dickerson is on her own. She advertised
with flyers, compiled students’ entries, found an exhibition
site, and now must figure out how to display the many doodles.
Illustration by Courtesy of Megan Dickerson
Student doodles will be shown in the Powell Library Rotunda.
“It goes from what am I going to put the notes themselves
on and am I going to use rubber cement or spray glue, to am I going
to put out postcards and more posters for publicity,”
Dickerson decided to divide the exhibit into four categories:
geometric shapes, figural drawings, caricatures and dialogue. She
hopes to display all of the doodles on their original notebook
paper so that viewers can see the drawings together with the notes
from the respective lecture.
Dickerson will display doodles against their original
backgrounds because she believes that doodling is not an act of
boredom, but a kind of interaction with the course material. In the
beginning, however, Dickerson saw students’ doodles and
note-passing as a kind of outlet or escape from the constricted
environment of a classroom.
“The more I saw other people’s notes and the more I
thought about it, the more I realized it’s not an escape from
the constricting environment of a classroom, but actually an
interaction with the course, whether they are drawing the
professor, drawing each other, or writing back and forth,”
said Dickerson. “It’s a way of engaging with the
Some of the most interesting entries were submitted by
third-year communication studies student Vanessa Vega. Vega studied
abroad in Tel Aviv, Israel, and noticed a change in her doodles
while she was going to class in an environment engulfed in
political turmoil. In Israel her drawings in her notes reflected
the nature of the Jewish and Hebrew studies courses she took as
well as her surroundings.
“It was like you were living in the curriculum because all
of the stuff you were learning about was going on around
you,” Vega said. “Classes were smaller and professors
were more conversational. I don’t think you have enough time
to doodle at UCLA.”
Vega’s doodles from Israel include many skeletons and
other somewhat morbid images. Whereas they dominate the pages of
her notes, her doodles from UCLA are smaller in number and
don’t necessarily relate to the course material.
With “Doodle: An Exhibit of Marginal Art,” Dickerson
attempts to make connections between how people doodle, why people
doodle and in what circumstances people doodle. She also intends to
investigate whether doodling should be considered art. She is
compiling a catalogue of doodles also, which will be available at
While asking students about their doodles in search of more
entries, Dickerson found that people were often embarrassed by the
fact that they draw during class; some even avoided lending out
their notes because the pages were littered with doodles.
“There is an assumption that if you’re doodling
you’re not a good student and aren’t paying
attention,” Polk said. “We’ve found that we
generally get awkward responses from people when we ask about their
“People have many things in common that we share and often
don’t think about until somebody decides to put it in the
public view,” Polk continued. “That’s what I like
about this exhibit.”
ART: “Doodle: An Exhibit of Marginal
Art” will be displayed Sunday, June 10 through Sunday, June
17 in the Powell Library Rotunda.