The Arts Crawl is one of my favorite events at Bates. The campus-wide celebration of creativity and arts happens once a year and represents the daily work of amazing students, faculty, and staff. After being fascinated with the Arts Crawl in 2017, I had the opportunity to join the Bates Arts Collaborative, who are the ones responsible for organizing the event every year. The Collaborative, co-chaired by Lecturer in Education Bronwyn Sale and Associate Professor of Dance, Rachel Boggia, is responsible for representing the performing, literary, and visual arts at Bates. We advocate for and organize the arts programming, making sure it fits the community as best as possible.
This year, the Arts Crawl was spread across three different locations: Olin, Commons, and Chase Hall. In Olin, there was a series of events. There were open-studios for those who are interested in seeing the amazing work in progress of senior Arts & Visual Culture students. There were also student pottery sales, student classwork showings, and an incredible animation screening with live performance. In the Fireplace Lounge, a number of A Cappella groups entertained the community. In Chase Hall, there was an otherworldly installation in Skelton Lounge: literary readings, theatrical excerpts, dance, and musical performances. “It is an opportunity for the Bates and LA communities to see and experience the results of the hard work and intense discipline that students put into their artistic practices,” Professor Sale writes. With three hours of programming, there was something for everyone.
There were a few new events in Arts Crawl 2018. The Video I and Animation I classes, taught by Assistant Professor Carolina Gonzalez Valencia, are relatively new additions to the Arts and Visual Culture Department at Bates. For the first time, there were video and animation screenings in the Arts Crawl – the animation screening, together with live performance, was a powerful display of students’ dedication, passion, and creativity.
The screenings were not the only novelty; Visiting Assistant Professor Julie Fox organized a “flash-mob-like” event traveling from Olin to Chase Hall. Professor Fox restaged a dance parade called NELKEN-Line, by famous dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch. The composition was originally part of a larger project called “Carnations.” With a simple score of four movements that mimic the seasons, the NELKEN-Line is an elegant and accessible dance event that the Pina Bausch Foundation has made available for people across the globe to restage. Amateur and professional dancers alike have restaged the NELKEN-Line in the past, submitting recordings to the Pina Bausch Foundation.
Another intriguing event this year was the immersive installation in Skelton Lounge, created by Emily Jolkovsky ’18. The piece, named “Heavy on Air,” invites the audience to walk around clouds, fog, and lights. Handmade “clouds” made of stuffing hang from the ceiling, ascending from one side of the room to another. A fog machine blurs real clouds with the fake clouds. A number of lamps are spread across the lounge, increasing the sense of an elusive, ephemeral atmosphere. Students were simply mesmerized, myself included. The interactivity of the piece allowed people to play with clouds in a space that requested no specific action of them but their presence. Even though the arts have a limited physical space available on campus, I heard a number of requests for more works of this kind during the academic year.
If there is one thing that I take from the Arts Crawl this year, it is that our community is full of life and creativity. For students, professors, and staff alike, the Arts Crawl is the moment to see all the arts and artists come together at once. Professor Boggia writes: “One of my favorite things about Arts Crawl is that I never fail to learn something new about one of my students. I had one student in several dance classes and thought I knew him quite well. When I heard him sing at Arts Crawl, I was absolutely floored. It was a side of him that had been invisible to me until that moment.” I second Boggia’s words, as I was, and still am, surprised by the incredible breadth and depth of the arts that live right here on our campus. For me, this summarizes the Arts Crawl – Bates is a community of incredibly talented people.