Deb Gehrke offers some pointers amid the artfully bedecked walls of the master’s residence at Quincy House.

Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Campus & Community

A look inside: Quincy House

3 min read

Tapping talent at Deb’s Paint Bar

Sometimes the scene at Deb’s Paint Bar can resemble a cubist version of the “Last Supper.”

Inside the Quincy House master’s residence, a rectangular table is covered with a collage of reproductions of the painting “Head of Seated Woman, 1962,” by Pablo Picasso. More than a dozen students are in a frenzy of creativity to create their own versions of this masterpiece. A selection of top works from past paint bar sessions line the Quincy House lobby. There are student tributes to Van Gogh, Kandinsky, and other masters. Circling the room, House Master Deb Gehrke shows off one student’s work-in-progress above her head.

“You’re really getting it!” she says, before rewarding the students with a series of enigmatic quotes from Picasso:

Action is the foundational key to all success …
Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth …
Bad artists copy. Good artists steal …

Gehrke explains the methodology behind her annual event, which has been running twice each fall for years. “I want them to use the other side of their brains — I’m into slowing Harvard students down — making them see art and have fun,” she said.

Seated beneath a row of historical oil paintings, Nicole Sliva ’12 explains the spirit of the event. “Paint bar was a great opportunity to step away from schoolwork and simply be creative. After the two hours of painting, I found myself incredibly relaxed. It is events like these that make being a Harvard student a unique and amazing experience. I find that the nonacademic activities are just as enriching as the academic ones.”