From the rectangular stickers adorning laptops across campus to the colorful new wraps on the Duke buses, the reach of the artstigators has grown significantly in the first year since its inception. And at their helm, as expert of all things art at Duke, is Amy Unell. The Chronicle’s Elizabeth Djinis spoke with Unell about what makes the artstigators so successful—and from where their unique name originated.
The Chronicle: What do the Artstigators have planned this year?
Amy Unell: We’re working in partnership with student groups like duARTS and visarts as well as organizations like the Nasher on the art card, the new art bus, the DukeCreate workshop, the Nasher’s 10th anniversary and Artstigator pop-ups. It’s exciting all of the things we have planned. We really want Artstigators to work together to build and support the growing community in the arts.
TC: How have Artstigators used social media to spread the word?
AU: Artstigators is all driven by the people, by the artstigators themselves. So this summer we featured students, alumni and Artstigators all over the world on our Instagram to show that artstigating is happening every day all over the world. There’s Artstigating happening from Rome to Dublin to Durham. People are hashtagging their photos on social media with Artstigators, which really helps connect their community so we can kind of further build and support the community.
TC: How do you hope to reach students who wouldn’t naturally gravitate towards the arts?
AU: Students can artstigate through all kinds of collaboration that we have. Either by taking a DukeCreate workshop to learn about photography or print-making or just trying something they haven’t tried before. Duke and Artstigators have all these collaborations and different opportunities. Those are two examples of ways that students can be open to trying something new and meeting people who are engaged in creativity. What’s great about the Art Card, for example, is that you go to different arts events, support your friends and, on top of that, you get to get free food at some of your favorite restaurants.
TC: What was the original goal behind Artstigators?
AU: I just love to be part of this incredible university at Duke. It’s on the national movement of arts engagement and higher education. That’s incredible every day to see that happening here at Duke. We’re open to collaborating with all student groups to support creativity. That’s really unique to the Artstigators.
TC: How would you define “to artstigate?”
AU: That’s the beauty of Artstigator. Artstigators is a student-driven movement-- it’s the Crazies for the arts. It’s a movement that encompasses so many things.
TC: What are some of the initiatives you’re most proud of?
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AU: A couple things that come to mind- it’s really Artstigators partnership with various student groups with Nasher MUSE and VisArts. I’m going to name a bunch of them - Small Town Records, Duke Student Broadcasting - they’re all so important to the mission of the Artstigators. Putting together these events like DEMAN Arts & Media weekend and ArtCon that are open to the entire community and alumni that has really been an amazing way to support activities on and off campus.