Looking back on Arts & Life
Top 5 stories that shined
Tucson Arts Brigade (TAB) kicked off spring with a call to artists, from all backgrounds, to take part in a three-day mural festival dedicated to creating stories of culture through the arts.
The University of Arizona School of Art was encouraged to have its students take part in the submission for ideas for the new project, aiming to create a tight connection between the school, TAB and the community.
“Making connections and getting people involved is a key aspect to these projects,” said Michael Schwartz, TAB President. “Breaking down barriers between people and letting them into a community where all are welcome is important.”
The festival, which was free and open to the public to help paint, took place April 13 through April 15 and resulted in 16 murals painted in the historic Sugar Hill and Jefferson Park neighborhoods of Tucson.
The purpose of the murals is to educate and preserve the history of the neighborhood as well as showcase local talent through the submissions. The artists were integral players in progress of these murals, but students and community members who volunteer and work with the artists in the creative process are also a key aspect in helping the projects come together.
“The Tucson Arts Brigade mural project serves as an outstanding example of how the arts can connect with communities,” said Colin Blakely, current director of the School of Art. “[It] provides a unique and striking identity to a city and is a project I am delighted to have the School of Art involved in.”
The UA School of Art continues to encourage students to become involved in the artistic community and enjoys working with organizations like TAB to further that outreach and creative atmosphere.
The University of Arizona Poetry Center collaborated with the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum to display the Woven Words project at their museum grounds, hoping to give audiences a highlight of environmental issues facing the dessert landscape.
The project features over 30 different poetry installations, and in pairing poetry with the exhibit space, the Desert Museum audiences are invited to think about what they are reading in context with what they are seeing.
“I look at all these different ways for bringing people out here because I never know what’s going to attract them or what’s going to connect with them,” said Craig Ivanyi, the executive director for the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. “What we’re always looking to do is get [people] to walk away with a piece of [the museum] in their heart to where they actually feel something and want to do something about it.”
The collaboration between the poetry center and the museum aims to strengthen the relationship between UA and the larger community. The center continues to look for ways to engage people both the UA and Tucsom communities.
This project stressed the importance of environmental awareness as well as serving as a platform for creative collaboration. The poetry center, located at 1508 E. Helen Street, hosts weekly readings, workshops and larger projects with students, faculty, the community and campus.
The University of Arizona chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA)—the College of St. Felix—is a student run organization that practices the skills and tasks of the Middle Ages in modern times.
The club takes part in “everything middle ages” from chain-mail making to their more popular live action fighter training, which is held weekly, as a way to highlight the importance of historical accuracy.
“We are a living history,” said Aaryn Pemberton, the 2017-2018 seneschal, or president, of the club. “The SCA is 100-percent audience participation. There are no actors; it’s all volunteer, and if you don’t participate, you won’t get anything out of it.”
The club, one of about 600 clubs on campus, focuses on the learning experiences members gain throughout their time with the SCA, aiming to teach skills that other organizations on campus cannot offer.
The College of St. Felix is always open to students wanting to join. They host a yearly event, in partnership with the bigger Tucson SCA chapter, called “Sable Knight” as well.
“There’s just a lot of skills that aren’t practiced in the world today that this community offers, and it grows you as a jack-of-all-trades,” said Kota Fleming, a 2018 graduate and the previous art and science minister and the chatelaine or “new person greeter” of the club.
Local artist and University of Arizona alumnus Nathanael Myers brings creativity to life in Tucson through his desire to kindle the notion of conceptual and visual poetry.
Myers, who graduated from the UA in 2015 with a degree in fine arts, works in a variety of artistic mediums, including two-dimensional art, dance and music. His passion for artistic creation fuels his current work in each of these platforms.
Myers was a proud recipient of the Buffalo Exchange Emerging Artist Award for 2017, an annual award which highlights emerging artists in the performing arts and visual arts, and individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the arts through education, organization and advocacy.
“To have acknowledgement that what I am doing is correct, especially not going to school for, say, dance or performance, that was really rewarding, and it redefined my definition of gratitude for the community that supported me,” Myers said. “I knew that what I was doing within Tucson meant something and it was not just an internal practice.”
The importance of fine arts, and the message Myers brings to the community, is that art is able to connect and communicate what words may not be able to.
Myers plans to enroll in a master’s program at NYU in New York in August. With help from the Buffalo Exchange Award, Myers also plans to take several summer dance intensives, allowing him to continue his movement practice and exploration of new artistic mediums.
Scott Pask, a University of Arizona alumnus, is a three-time Tony Award winning set designer currently working on the Broadway production of “Mean Girls.”
Pask has worked on a total of 52 Broadway productions, such as “Book of Mormon” and “The Coast of Utopia.” Originally from Yuma, he graduated from the UA with a degree in architecture and began exploring the world of theatre during his time on campus. Pask is also a recipient of an honorary doctorate degree in humane letters, which he was awarded in 2014.
With his coursework and projects in architecture, Pask began to understand how people could create meaning from the construction of space.
“I liked the idea behind the projects that I was working on,” he said. “It was about storytelling, and how people felt in those spaces became a really important thing to me. I started constructing ideas and narratives for some of my projects to infuse them with some meaning.”
One of Pask’s favorite shows, “The Book of Mormon,” visited UA’s Centennial Hall most recently on April 3, 2018 and was the product of his third Tony Award in 2011.
After “Mean Girls,” Pask will be working on the production of “A Band’s Visit,” a musical based on an Israeli film directed by Eran Kolirin.
“I have to pinch myself every once in a while. I feel really lucky to be doing the work that I’m doing.”
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