For the first time in the history of the festival, the organizers have chosen a theme in order to promote interdisciplinary collaboration and expand the boundaries of artistic endeavors on campus. The organizers chose to orient the festival around the intersection of art and sustainability in order to ask its participants and audience to consider how creativity can galvanize sustainable behaviors.
“Since we now felt the festival has established itself we decided to bring more focus to this year’s exhibition,” said Scott Lindroth, Vice Provost for the Arts, in an email. “Beyond this, we have seen more and more faculty and students exploring the intersection of the arts with other areas of academic inquiry.”
Since 2009, the Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts has organized the Duke Arts Festival with support from the Duke Alumni Association, Duke University Union VisArts Committee and the Duke Career Center. This year they have added new partners from the Sustainable Duke campaign and Duke Sanitation and Recycling Services. Similar to prior years, the festival will feature the same core components: an exhibition in the Bryan Center, student performances throughout the 10 days and the opportunity for networking through DEMAN weekend. However, this year’s festival differs from prior ones in its commitment to a unifying theme and its invitation to visiting artists.
This focus on sustainability is not only present in student work within the festival, but also in the work of visiting artists Chris Jordan, Bryant Holsenbeck and Pinar Yoldas. These visiting artists will present work ranging from film and photography about the threat of pollution to marine ecology, to a workshop utilizing plastic bottles as source material, to an audiovisual exhibit of endangered animals’ sounds and skeletons.
Despite the integration of visiting artists, the core of the festival will still be student artwork and performances. The Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts has worked with duARTS in order to incorporate student sculptures, videos, photos, media, music, dance, poetry and theater. Apart from the galleries and performances, the festival will also feature workshops by arts organizations on campus, as well as an art auction.
“From the start, the festival has always focused on student artists, both visual and performance,” said Beverly Meek, Arts Outreach and Communications Assistant in Office of Vice Provost for the Arts. “While the exhibition always has tremendous impact when the works are exhibited in the Bryan Center—literally transforming it into a gallery—we have always included student performances, too.”
The festival concludes with DEMAN weekend, which offers opportunities for conversation and networking among students and alumni in the entertainment, media and arts communities. The weekend includes information sessions, a film screening of “Good Ol’ Freda,” a Nasher reception and keynote speaker Adam Chodikoff of "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."
With its varied programming, the Duke Arts Festival has come to embody not just a display of student talent, but a commitment to a culture of appreciation and mindfulness of art. The integration of sustainability as a theme helps to expand the festival and its art into various disciplines on campus.
“In the past we have taken a ‘come one, come all’ approach to the visual art exhibit in the Duke Arts Festival, and we have been gratified to receive as many as 300 pieces for the exhibit,” said Lindroth. “While I believe the act of making and engaging with art in a serious way is inherently valuable, it is exciting to see how studies in science, history, languages, mathematics and other fields can find expression in works of art.”
The 5th Annual Duke Arts Festival is from Friday, Oct. 25 to Sunday, Nov. 3. The festival will feature an exhibition in the Bryan Center, student performances and visiting artists brought in by the Vice Provost. For more information, visit http://arts.duke.edu/festival.