Weeklong arts festival puts on shows, workshops, pianos

The rainy weather this week has not dampened the spirit of the Duke Arts Festival, spanning from Sept. 28 to Oct. 5.

Hosted by duARTS, the festival is an annual event celebrating all forms of art around campus. duARTS is a student-run group focused on promoting the arts within the campus community. It took over the program from Duke Arts last year, making the Duke Arts Festival significantly more student-run than it had been in years past.

“It’s basically a kind of celebration of the arts on campus, where the arts have a more visible presence on campus during the week, with events going on every single day,” said Anshu Vipparla, a senior and duART chair.

While the festival brings recognition to the many talented student artists, it also brings the arts to people on campus who would normally not participate in the arts. Many of the events are “pop-in” events, where students are able to quickly stop by without investing a lot of time in the event. All of the events throughout the week are also Art Card friendly, meaning students can collect stamps on Art Cards to redeem for free food around Durham.

Vipparla said that duARTS tried to space out the festival more this year, as last year students appeared to be over-programmed. This year, only one or two main events take place every day, aiming to boost student attendance in these larger events. 

Vipparla said she hope that the festival generates student interest in the arts community on campus and showcases the efforts of student artists. She also hopes the program will help students realize that art isn’t a separate sphere at Duke, but rather a community that everyone can be a part of.

“The festival fosters the idea that everyone is an artist and that everyone is part of this community,” said Vipparla. 

duARTS organized the festival by collaborating with many student groups on campus, as well as local artists in Durham and the Nasher Museum.


The Duke Arts Festival kicked off Monday with an Anime Workshop, hosted by duARTS and Center for Multicultural Affair. The Poetry Fox also greeted students at the West Campus bus stop, offering to compose a poem based around a word of the students’ choice. Pianos are also placed at the West Campus bus stop and the Bryan Center Plaza for the duration of the week.

The first day of the festival concluded with the annual DUU VisArts Student Showcase Reception. Students could stop by the Bryan Center to enjoy more than 100 pieces of student art featured in the student-curated Brown Gallery, narrowed down from more than 230 submissions. Although the art in the Brown Gallery will be up for three weeks, the art in the temporary installation will only be up for the remainder of the week.

“The art we have is incredible, because it’s all student art and mostly undergrad, and not even all from people who are art majors,” said Rachel Lamparelli, a sophomore and chair of Duke VisArts.


The festival includes much more than just visual art. Although the Djembe Ensemble—a group focused on West African drum music—performance for was rained out Tuesday, students were still able to get balloon animals from a clown called Mr. Rainbow inside the Marketplace.

“I asked for a surprise, and he definitely surprised me,” said freshman Katie Tsang. Mr. Rainbow blew up a balloon and let it fly around the room instead of handing it to her.

The Arts Annex hosted a night of Karaoke, beat-boxing and free Enzo’s Pizzaand Monuts to wrap up the Tuesday festivities.


On Wednesday, Arts Career and Internship Fair popped up in the Bryan Center for two hours. Students had the opportunity to visit booths from organizations such as the American Dance Festival, the Nasher Museum and Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.

“Many students want to work in art for the rest of their life, and they want to find jobs in these fields, and for those students there are very limited resources,” Vipparla said.

The rest of Wednesday’s activities included a concert from a capella group Rhythm and Blue at the West Bus Stop, a photography workshop hosted by DukeCreate at the Arts Annex, and swing dancing and a Bollywood hip-hop lessons at Brodie Gym. Wednesday concluded with an evening of jazz at the Mary Lou Williams Center.

Coming up

The Duke Arts Festival has additional activities lined up through Sunday, featuring opportunities for students to appreciate artists’ work, as well as create their own.

MuralFest will be held on the Bryan Center Plaza Friday afternoon. Local Durham artist Gabriel Eng-Goetz has created large paint-by-numbers murals, which students can work on with paint pens. The finished murals will be hung up around campus. The event will feature buffalo wings, Locopops and free tank tops.

The Arts Theme House will host their annual Melted Crayon Art event Saturday, where students can create colorful canvases by melting crayons with hair dryers.

The Duke Arts Festival will draw to a close on Sunday, wrapping up with the Nasher10 Homecoming, which celebrates the Nasher Museum’s tenth anniversary, and will feature a number of tours, discussions and demonstrations with artists and museum staff.


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