Students and faculty of UW-Green Bay brought an eclectic array of artistic talent to the Phoenix Club during the first ever Create-a-Thon event April 19. Demonstrations included sketches, painting, music, poetry, knitting and many other unique artistic exhibitions. UW-Green Bay’s campus Common Theme of “Creativity, Innovation and Vision” was well represented during the daylong celebration.
One artist participating in Friday’s event sat at the entrance of the Phoenix Club painting a surrealist-style rendition of a 1950s-era housewife, attracting the attention of curious onlookers. Laura Schley, UW-Green Bay junior Arts Management major, said Create-a-Thon was an opportunity for the campus community to engage artists and learn how artistic creation can be valuable on a personal level.
“I want them to see what great artists, musicians and performers we have on this campus,” Schley said. “I think we have a goldmine of talent here, this is a great way to notice everyone’s special skills.”
As sketch artists, painters and knitters put their unique abilities on display, the background music wasn’t typical of the Phoenix Club; rather, the air was filled with melodies performed by the students of Assistant Prof. Michelle McQuade Dewhirst’s materials and design class, an upper-level music course. McQuade Dewhirst said the performances were midterm projects that were designed to reflect the ideas and methods taught in the course. But showcasing artistic innovation shouldn’t be relegated to a gallery or concert hall, she said.
“What we do in art can be very specialized but it’s meant for everyone — this event was meant to bring it to the people,” McQuade-Dewhirst said. “We want to demystify what art can be, if you have someone sitting there showing you, then the process is less intimidating than learning it on your own.”
The interactive nature of Create-a-Thon was readily apparent at the table where Associate Prof. Alison Gates and Prof. Ellen Rosewall sat while demonstrating the creative and relaxing art form of knitting. Both faculty members were creating their freeform knitting pieces, which would be combined with other pieces to form a final collaborative artwork later in the day.
“Knitting is all muscle memory. Once you know the basics, you can create your own original artwork,” Gates said. “It’s highly satisfying to be able to create something you can give as a handmade gift or wear yourself.”
Emphasizing the variety of creative items being generated by students and faculty during Create-a-Thon was one goal of the Common Theme task force members when the event was proposed, but not the only one. Emphasizing imagination and showing the necessity of innovation in the workforce was also a priority.
“The act of creativity can happen in other fields as well,” Rosewall said. “Scientists are creative, engineers can be creative — employers are saying they don’t need people to know the right answer, they need people to create new ideas.”
The Phoenix Club was also utilized as temporary studio by Alan De La Cruz, UW-Green Bay freshman art major; Ranita Haanen, UW-Green Bay freshman art major; and Zach Swan, UW-Green Bay freshman art major. The three were free-hand sketching renditions of UW-Green Bay Chancellor Tom Harden, Provost Julia Wallace and President Barack Obama, respectively.
Within the first two hours of the event, the artists had begun to shade their designs with charcoal to give the work more depth. Their collaborative effort was part of a project called “Whose Eyes Are On UW-Green Bay,” and is intended to inspire others to learn about the value of expression, Swan said.
“It won’t end up to be an exact replication of their facial features,” Haanen said. “It will be a bit more abstract.”
Aside from the wide range of artistic demonstrations and poetry readings, several instrumental numbers were performed throughout the event. UW-Green Bay Jazz ensemble, a UW-Green Bay Music Student convocation and an Alumni Saxophone Quartet performance were other highlights of the day’s events.
More information about UW-Green Bay’s Common Theme is available online.
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