Campus welcomes new art for FOTA

By Jen Glickel

A pink twist on the ancient Greek labyrinth on the quads, a house of cards constructed over the seal in the Reynolds Club, and a burlesque show featuring scantily clad performers? It can only mean one thing: Festival of the Arts (FOTA) is back this spring.

This year’s FOTA has inundated campus with art pieces and performances alike, including large-scale installations around campus, galleries, and performances.

While there is no formal theme for FOTA, Hannah Kushnick, FOTA senior curator, said an unofficial theme arose from the art pieces.

“This year, we ended up having a rather macabre theme,” said Kushnick, a third-year in the College. “The circus this year has a Gorey-inspired graveyard flavor; Goblin Market, our Thursday and Friday night theatrical offering, is deliciously scary; and one of our installations in Hallowed Grounds is The Squid, a funeral-themed piece.”

New additions to FOTA this year include projects by Court Theatre and the Renaissance Society, two campus art organizations.

Changes included moving the launch party and fashion show into Hutchinson Courtyard, having events on Bartlett Quad each day at 5 p.m. to provide continuity, and including a gallery of staff artwork in the Administration Building, said Claire Mazur, executive director of FOTA and fourth-year in the College.

Mazur discussed FOTA’s role in fostering art at the U of C. “It’s important to provide the resources for students to execute their art, not only through financial means, but by giving them the space and materials with which to do it,” she said.

“We also hope to arouse people’s interest in art by having it enter their daily lives and for it to brighten the collective day and be festive,” Kushnick said.

“Basically, we want to promote the artistic disciplines on campus in whatever way we can. We also seek to foster a positive culture in the arts community on campus, one that emphasizes collaboration, creativity, and mutual support.”

Artist work this year includes second-year Lana Harfoush’s “House of Cards” installation over the seal in the Reynolds Club, third-year Sanjaya Punyasena’s “Labyrinth” outside of Pick Hall, and second-years Kimberly Sutton and Italia Patti’s visual and musical installation, “The Moment,” over Botany Pond.

Harfoush said her “House of Cards” project was a response to people who live by a strict plan.

“The reality [of] the foundation we build the houses of our lives upon is planted greatly in the ‘hands we are dealt’ at birth; or in other words how random events and Chance that are completely out of our control are what we have to work with to ultimately create a structure in which we are comfortable living,” Harfoush said in an e-mail.

FOTA members began planning early in autumn quarter and continued through this week.

Mazur highlighted marketing as a central focus of the FOTA board’s work.

“We consider it one of our responsibilities to the artist to make sure we publicize their artwork adequately,” she said.

Kushnick said that despite the arduous process of organizing FOTA, “it’s a great time—we all love every minute of it.”

The artists are equally excited about the week.

“FOTA is easily my favorite time of year,” Harfoush said. “FOTA embellishes the tiniest nooks and crannies of campus that makes walking across the quads a little more adventurous.”