May 11, 2015

FOTA Springfest is in the air

The Festival of the Arts (FOTA) hosted SpringFest this past week on campus, where student artwork was displayed all over campus.

Over 60 artists were featured, including performance groups such as PhiNix, Fire Escape Films, and UChicago Maya. Artwork was installed in locations like the Reg, Reynolds Club, student Cafes, the Logan Center, and Harper Memorial Library. Works included drawings, photographs, sculptures, and performance pieces.

FOTA is an arts RSO that funds student artists and their project ideas. It organizes and displays artwork during the week of SpringFest, which it has coordinated since 1963. Second-year Jordan Appel, a member of FOTA’s marketing board, explained that the goal of SpringFest is to bring the diversity of campus together to make something special through art. “One thing we always try to focus on is getting new artists each year to join in and showcase their talents and creativity,” she said.

Many people were involved in pulling off this event, including student artists, models, and members of the FOTA board. The opening launch party at Reynolds last Friday featured a variety of events including a fashion show, live art exhibitions, and a live band. Participants got a chance to express themselves and explore their artistic side. Anya Marchenko, a second-year in the College, modeled for two photo projects and walked for the fashion show. “I feel like normally I don’t get enough exposure to art on campus, and it’s interesting to go from the perpetual intellectual state of mind I’m always into an artistic state of mind [during SpringFest],” Marchenko said.

In order to gain approval to display during SpringFest, students must submit a project proposal to the FOTA board in the late winter. Students who are selected are eligible to receive up to $500 in funding.

Cooper Rabbitt, a painter featured in SpringFest and third-year in the College, explains how his project idea stemmed from a desire to combine features of UChicago student life with aspects of material and color. “I personally find a lot of beauty in small things, and I like taking apart objects and looking at the different components—like taking a white wall and breaking it down into subtle hue shifts that aren’t immediately obvious,” he said, “Consequently, in UChicago study spaces we sometimes alienate ourselves with our own work. I wanted to combine those two concepts in the painting.” Rabbitt’s work is currently exhibited on the second floor landing in Harper Memorial Library.

In addition to art installations and performance nights, FOTA’s SpringFest designed activities to bring the campus together. For example, a mural picnic table was set up on the quad in order to encourage students to contribute a drawing to its surface. “Community activities like this conceptualize FOTA’s goals of getting as much of the community as possible to engage in art,” Appel explained.

“Many students hope to see more on artist involvement throughout the week not only for the performing artists but for the painters and the photographers. For example, more artists can be displayed live in libraries or student cafes, so that people who miss the launch party can still get a chance to experience the art,” Marchenko said.

Rabbitt expressed a similar sentiment, saying, “I think it would be nice to have students give artist talks in order to give the visual artists more chance to explain their artwork in a non-formal setting.”

The week of SpringFest ended with a fancy finale party at the Promontory, complete with hors d’oeuvres and performances from CJEP, the Board, and DJ Nu Lucas. Over 150 people attended.