Walk into Olin Arts Center and you hear the distinctive sound of the Steel Pan Orchestra, performing just down the hall. Downstairs, students are selling their own ceramics, and throughout the building, senior studio art majors have thrown their studio doors open. In the Concert Hall, brass and then piano and bass ring out as students dance, an animation providing the backdrop.
It’s the Arts Crawl, a celebration of students’ talent and creativity in the visual, literary, and performing arts. For three hours on Feb. 2, writers, artists, dancers, and musicians in Olin and Chase Hall brought out their best as members of the Bates and surrounding communities watched, listened, and admired.
Walk with us through the sights, sounds, and delights of the evening.
Among the pottery wheels in the Olin ceramics studio, students in Susan Dewsnap’s classes set up tables with pieces for sale. Celia Feal-Staub ’20 of Putney, Vt., writes her name on a sheet of paper to indicate the cups, bowls, pitchers, and mugs she has made.
“I find ceramics really rewarding, because it’s so easy to see your improvement the longer you’ve been doing it,” says Feal-Staub, who spent a gap year as a potter’s apprentice before coming to Bates. “There’s nothing more satisfying than pulling that finished pitcher or jar out of the kiln after you’ve been working on it for weeks and weeks, on getting that lid to fit right or your spout to pour right.”
The Arts Crawl is in high gear. The lobby and halls are crowded as patrons explore, indulging in popcorn and hot chai along the way. Many of them cluster in a doorway, beyond which the Steel Pan Orchestra performs. The ensemble is centered around the steelpan, an instrument that originates in Trinidad and Tobago.
Studio art major Durotimi Akinkugbe ’18 of London has concentrated in photography in the past, but for his senior thesis he’s moved to animation. In his studio, he shows visitors storyboards for his concept, a series of 30-second animations, made in different styles, that center around an overarching theme, perhaps time or the search for value or meaning.
As people file in and out of a studio on the first floor of Olin, Max Breschi ’18 of Carlisle, Penn., a politics and studio art major, sits at a pottery wheel, experimenting with forms.
“After writing my thesis last semester for politics, which was 60-plus pages, it’s nice to get in the studio and unwind a bit, let things flow creatively and just make a bunch of pots,” he says.
Louise Marks ’18 of Mount Pleasant, S.C., a studio art major, usually draws and paints, but for her senior thesis, she is making sculptures out of found materials such as the remnants of a burned-down home.
“It’s evocative of home in that it has pieces of old wallpaper still on it and the colors from the house, and some parts of it feel pretty intimate, but others just looks like ruins,” Marks said. “…I’m playing with the idea of home and what it means.”
Parked in their senior studio, Marks, Saleha Belgaumi ’18 of Karachi, Pakistan, and Madeline McKay ’18 of Bala Cynwyd, Pa., welcome a steady stream of classmates, who admire and ask questions about their work. Since all three artists work with paint and large-scale pieces, their studio is ventilated and large enough for them to keep their materials and what they make out of them.
Lining Belgaumi’s side of the room are paintings that might turn into her senior thesis, an intensely personal exploration of her identity as a biracial woman with roots in Pakistan and the United States, two cultures that others might think of as separate.
Some pieces depict a woman’s abdomen with the hands covering the crotch, overlaid with text or a tile pattern commonly found in Pakistani homes and religious buildings.
“I’m exploring what it means to be a liberated, independent woman living in the U.S., with ties to and a really good relationship with a culture that is Muslim,” she says. “What does it mean to have grown up in Pakistani culture, and to reconcile two parts of my identity that are usually at odds or are not usually placed in the same context?”
Chaesong Kim ’18 of Goyang-si, South Korea and Keila Ching ’19 of Honolulu start slowly, moving together as a screen behind them flashes animations. As their performance progresses they take up more of the stage in Olin Concert Hall. To the music they add single words, spoken into a microphone.
They’re part of Ensemble Blurb, a free improvisation group that uses multimedia. Founded by Arthur Kampela, last year’s visiting artist in music, the group consists of dancers Kim and Ching, Ian Clarkson ’18 of Mount Vernon, Ohio, on double bass, Divyamaan Sahoo ’17 on violin, and Associate Professor of Music Hiroya Miura on piano. As their music rings out and the dancers move in tandem, a compilation of animations from Assistant Professor of Art and Visual Culture Carolina González serves as a backdrop.
Student musicians, artists, and comedians perform for a well-fed audience. Emilio Valadez ’18 of San Antonio improvises on guitar, making up lyrics as he goes.
Walk into Skelton Lounge, and you’re plunged into a world that’s ethereal but oddly comforting. Cotton clouds are suspended from wires. On the floor, lamps, some antique and some modern, cast a warm yellow light. Ambient sound hangs like the clouds. A fog machine makes the world small.
Emily Jolkovsky ’18 of Avon, Minn. (pictured), and Alisa Amador ’18 of Cambridge, Mass., created Heavy On Air, an immersive installation, specifically for the Arts Crawl.
“The idea was to blend life and death and anything on opposite ends of a spectrum together and make it unclear where the boundaries of the two are, in order to celebrate both,” Jolkovsky says.