A Year in Review: the Arts on Campus

Judges and contestants of the 2019 Arts Business Competition.

Arts Business Competition – Each year, the Division of the Arts holds the Arts Business Competition (ABC), a campus-wide competition encouraging innovation and creativity by students across all disciplines at the UW. This year’s first-place winner Tiffany Ike will use her prize money to start “Emeka,” an online collection of written and visual content created by women of color. Johnny Yan took home second prize for “Clay It By Ear,” a small business and interactive exhibition centered around unique, homemade ceramics. Yan incorporates his mechanical engineering studies to create 3D models of instruments, which he then creates and paints. Third place went to Emily Her and Katie Chong, who hope to increase the impact of “I Am Here,” a brand that facilitates conversations about struggles marginalized groups face in the U.S. This project was inspired by the struggles of Hmong students on the UW campus.

H’Doubler Concert – This year’s Dance Department H’Doubler Concert showcased student work through both solo and group dance works. Through movement, thee annual concert discussed and discovered topics ranging from expressions of toxic masculinity to the search for community and identity. What makes the concert unique is its focus on student choreographic work. Various dance students and the senior class took part in choreographing complete works for the concert.

Prospective arts students take the Creative Campus Tour.

Creative Campus Tour – Brought to life last fall, the Creative Campus Tour (CCT) embodies the concept of a traditional campus tour but is centered around the spirit of the arts on campus. Prospective and current students interested in the arts, along with their families, visited the UW and were taken on a tour of various arts spaces on campus including the Studio Creative Arts Learning Community, where many prospective students may live during their first year at the UW. To help develop and create the CCT, Tasia Duske of Museum Hack visited campus and helped guide us through the ins and outs of creating a successful, engaging tour.

Noel Joy Ash in her studio days before Open Studio Day.

MFA Annual Open Studio Day – Each year, Masters of Fine Arts students in the Art Department open up their studio spaces to the public. They showcase their work from the year and interact with guests from both the UW and Madison community. This year, artists including Noel Joy Ash presented works central to their person. Ash incorporated family into many of her pieces. Workshops and sessions were led by MFA students throughout the day, and many students had works of art for sale.

Interdisciplinary Arts Residencies – This school year, the division welcomed two wonderful artists to campus as part of the Interdisciplinary Arts Residency Program (IARP). These artists spend a semester at the UW teaching a course, leading community events, bringing guests artists to Madison, and taking part in activities on campus. Our fall 2018 artist Stuart Flack brought to life a new connection between science and art, using visual art to express data and science-based topics. At Stuart’s final residency event, students created a piece of interactive or performance art that expressed topics such as the lack of diversity in Fortune 500 company leaders, the struggles of eating disorders, and family separation at the U.S./Mexico border. In spring 2019, Rashaad Newsome spent the semester creating a highly interdisciplinary experience for students which ended with his final event, “The Gesture of Collage as Practice.” Students showcased their dance, spoken word, and mural projects, which engaged audience members in areas such as self-acceptance, Blackness, and identity.

Line Breaks Festival – Put on by the students of First Wave, the 13th annual Line Breaks Festival made waves this spring. First Wave students used spoken word, song, dance, theater, and more to create interdisciplinary works on topics such as race, queerness, and human emotion. Professional artists were also invited to participate in Line Breaks alongside students. Filmmaker Mackenzie Berry’s documentary The Louisville Lip: MC Muhammad Ali was shown at this year’s festival, which discusses Ali’s influence on hip-hop and how Black women helped to shape the culture.

Six Characters in Search of an Author – Fall 2018. Photo courtesy of University Theatre.

Six Characters in Search of an AuthorSix Characters in Search of an Author, the gripping story of a script’s characters coming to life during a college drama rehearsal, was presented in October by the Department of Theatre and Drama. This unique show featured not only UW students, but child and adult community members as well. The show brought eerie, troubled characters to life whose collective story unraveled on stage, while the college students playing themselves added a bit of lightness and humor to the production.

Group of students on stage at Threads Fashion Show
Threads 2019: Point of Muse took place at the Madison Masonic Center

Threads: Point of Muse – The annual Textiles and Fashion Design show, Threads, had extra reason to celebrate this year. This spring marked 50 years of the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection at the UW, a 13,000 piece textile collection from around the world spanning sixteen centuries. Used as inspiration for students in the Design Studies program since 1968, the collection was the “Point of Muse” for students participating in this year’s showcase. With aspects of light design, fashion, open modeling calls, and behind-the-scenes work, the show involved students from all over campus.

It’s been a great two semesters packed with arts events of all types. While student-based arts events slow down over the summer, the arts don’t stop. Visit arts.wisc.edu for a listing of all arts events happening on campus. We look forward to seeing what our amazing students have in store for next fall semester!