Student Stories

Festival of the Arts

Last year, it was reported that students hallucinated a seven-foot high table accompanied by two benches of similar stature in the middle of the main quads. They soon realized that these pieces actually existed. Two students constructed them as part of Festival of the Arts (FOTA), a week-long event that has taken place every year at the College since 1963.  FOTA aims at celebrating the life of the arts by making art visible, as Hannah Bracken, two-time curator and fourth-year Fundamentals major puts it. 

This year, 44 artists have worked with the eight students on the FOTA board to prepare pieces that will be displayed in various areas around campus. Registered Student Organizations involved include MODA, the predominant fashion-oriented organization. MODA prepared a fashion show to launch FOTA with some proceeds from each ticket sold going towards the Japan Relief & Rebuild Initiative. UC Dancers will be showcasing their work on Thursday, May, 12th. University Theater has also collaborated with FOTA to perform Oedipus formatted as a tour around the Alumni House with the chorus acting as the tour guides.

However, most of the art pieces for FOTA are designed to “spontaneously engage students as they go to and fro for class,” said Bracken. For those new to FOTA (and even those who are not), the Director of the FOTA Board, Bonnie Kate Walker, a fourth-year Latin American Studies major, provided a walking tour guiding interested people around campus to experience a variety of performances that include installations, dance, theater, and other miscellaneous arts.

One such artist is Bruno Cabral, a 4th year Philosophy major, who performed in last year’s festival and this year’s TEDx UChicago conference. Other performances to look out for include Baby Snatchers, a pseudonym used by Sam Ertel, a fourth-year Anthropology major, who is a DJ/sound artist and will be exploring producing sound in different areas on campus over the week. There are other stationary art pieces already in Harper Café, artwork that has been on display over the past year on the walls and rotated around every one to three months. Dubbed the Rotating Gallery, it will showcase new pieces this week.

Open Mic Nights in which musicians and comedians took to the stage in Hallowed Grounds also took place throughout the year in the lead up to FOTA.  Some of the same artists performed this week as well, such as second-year Jason Rosenfeld in the Music and Video showcase.

Most performances are typically planned to take place outside for around two to five minutes with multiple acts lined up for the same locations. Rain or not, the show will go on, so keep an eye out around Cobb, the Regenstein Library, and especially the center of the main quads.

For all who appreciate art, let the artist know and consider joining the FOTA board. What attracted Bracken to the board was the “practical experience in arts and challenge in planning.” This involves “achieving a compromise with artists between the ideal and realistic vision of their art and finding the optimal audience.”