Student Hannah Perno’s calligraphy displayed on UB's Seasons’ menu
Hannah Perno grew up on a farm. She ate organic and wholesome foods that eventually became integral to her daily eating habits.
It is fitting that the senior environmental studies major is the artist behind Seasons’ vibrant blackboard menu in the Center for the Arts. Although she is not affiliated with the university’s arts program, she occasionally suspends coursework to explore more of her creative talents.
Seasons, the renovated café and organic juice bar, is inspiring a tradition of healthy food and drink products with eye-catching artwork behind the counter.
Perno is a student manager at Bert’s dining center. Over the summer, her boss asked if she wanted to help design its associated café in the CFA.
Perno said the inspiration behind the mural sprouted from her passion for promoting a natural lifestyle, free from artificial agents.
“It was so much fun and so inspirational to wake up each day for those couple of weeks and know that what I had planned for the day involved using the creative side of brain,” she said.
The blank canvas came with complete creative freedom, as did the summer. Without the distraction of coursework, Perno put the chalk to the board and drew.
“I would draw or design something and not really know where I got the idea from,” Perno said. “It was just me, some chalk markers, and 107.7 Buffalo blasting on the radio.”
She constantly sought her managers’ and coworkers’ approvals to make sure that her creation was good enough to publicly display.
“My passion for this [mural] and how important I thought this would be for UB really fueled creativity for me,” she said.
She also acknowledged her interest in environmental conservation as another major influence for her art.
Working on Seasons gave Perno a chance to connect with her artistic side again.
“I did a lot of art in high school,” Perno said, “but it was honestly something that fell by the wayside once I got to college.”
For most of her life, Perno has lived a healthy lifestyle. She has also worked at Ashker’s Juice Bar, a healthy alternative serving fresh juices and nutritious dishes within the confines of an unvarnished art gallery.
Sitting on the hip strip of Elmwood Avenue, Ashker’s resembles UB’s Seasons, possibly the next trendy spot on campus.
The mural at Seasons portrays a connection between nature and man.
Trees hover atop buildings, resembling Buffalo’s skyline. The glowing leaves and blooming flowers scattered throughout the board appear to symbolize the benefits of organic foods and materials and imply the importance of healthy diets. On the other hand, the skyline signifies “Buffalove,” Perno said.
“I feel like most UB students don’t actually know anything about Buffalo. They’re very constrained to Amherst and forget that they are actually apart of this awesome city,” Perno said.
Although she was hesitant to add buildings to the rest of her drawing, she said she decided that they would remind students that Buffalo is their home, at least for four years.
UB is increasing its efforts and involvement in environmental sustainability. One way the campus is working to create better conditions for its students and surrounding community is by crafting a healthier food culture. Campus Dining and Shops (CDS) is partnering with UB Sustainability to celebrate locally sourced produce.
Adam Nebenzahl, a junior environmental studies major and blogger for UB Sustainability, said CDS is a UB Green partner.
Along with professors and active students, Nebenzahl said he plans to discuss the concepts of compost, food waste and ecosystem preservation.
Seasons is one of its initial measures in generating a greener campus.
After Seasons grand opening, many students took to Twitter to express their excitement of having an organic eatery on campus.
Alex Bahgat, a junior exercise science major, tweeted that she and her friend were the first official customers and then, “Even the spoon is made out of recycled materials. I am too excited about having an organic place on campus!”
However, there are those who hold a different opinion.
Chelsea Carnahan, a UB junior who transferred from Canisius College, referred to Seasons as “cute,” but feels it is “overly hipster-y.”
“It doesn’t have a wide selection of juices, and certainly nothing I was interested in,” Carnahan said.
She added that she while she does think it needs more options, the iced tea she ordered was “well-made.”
The former Fine Art Café was hardly inviting – it was barely anything more than a hole in the wall, seldom receiving attention.
But now, the newly renovated café is much more timely, sparking real action in the global environmental initiative.
Maggie LeClair, a senior environmental geosciences major and advocate of organic and wholesome foods, said she believes that CDS is “tak[ing] initiative toward something that’s revolutionary for a college campus.”
Perno is proud of her work with or without public praise. She displayed a positive message to UB and its community while focusing on a once-abandoned hobby.
Now, she realizes her passion for healthy eating nurtures her art and she wishes to intertwine them.
One day, she plans to own her own café.
Alexandra Saleh is the assistant arts editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.