With the spring term coming to a close at Reed College, Southeast's university hosted an Arts Fest on May 5th to highlight the school's annual "Reed Arts Week" (RAW). The afternoon at the student union gave students a chance to make some money from their artwork, as well as to perform live music and display creative endeavors.
"The arts building is almost off campus, it's so secluded," remarked senior Nico Anderson. "I think it's nice to bring [what we do there] to a more central area, and give students a chance to make some money off their work."
The festival itself was a bit different from previous years. Typically, the week-long celebration focuses on curated exhibits, and bringing in outside creatives to showcase work. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic still a factor, the school decided to direct those funds towards the students already on campus — In the form of this festival, and RAW grants. All of those who participated in the festival were given $40, in addition to any money made in sales. Those who are selected for RAW grants will receive up to $500 to fund their artistic endeavors.
Some of those many endeavors were displayed at the festival. Several dozen masked-up creatives sat behind booths, and were eager to share information from various classes, as well as personal projects, and art. There were photo essay projects, live portraitures, hand-made crafts, quilting, collage art, jewelry, and much more.
Nico Anderson, who has been learning calligraphy since high school, is a part of the Reed Scriptorium Club, and was selling live calligraphy commissions — with a focus on sharing and understanding this form of writing.
"Calligraphy has been shaped by materials — the edge pen and brushes. The art of handwriting is being lost because people are typing more." reflected Anderson. "It's not that I think things that are hand-done are always better, but I just don't think that art should be lost."
Some Reed students had been working on these projects for years; and, for others, it was a chance to share what they had been learning in their classes. Just a few booths down from Anderson, international student and Reed junior Sizheng Song emphasized the learnings of her "Word and Image" English class.
"It's an English class where we look at picture books, and study the relationships between text and images. We have the option to do a creative piece that emulates the relationships of text and image, or just the style of art that we are seeing and studying," said Song. "I was interested in studying forms and ways of making art in different forms and mediums. I want to know more about the relationship from a more scholarly point of view."
These specific creative pieces included smaller versions that were free, and included a detailed depiction describing the process that went into that student's interpretation of the book or artist. Song's desire wasn't so much to make money as to share knowledge.
"We want to encourage people to do this work by themselves: Analyze how their art work has been created; study the way they are being created. And do some work of their own," shared Song.
Reed College has a well-known history focusing on the sharing of creative thinking. But not everyone who attends Reed comes to the school with a mindset of actively sharing that, or growing that side of their personality. Sophomore Milo Martinez is an example of that; although he's worked on digital collage art for more than six years, he hadn't actively pursued it as a career or a way of making money. He displayed some of his work for the first time at the festival, and credits the school for his inspiration.
"Originally, I hadn't planned on pursuing art and continuing with that. As soon as I got here I took some lovely classes with some great professors, and learned a ton to kick-start that again for me, which is cool," said Martinez.
Martinez focuses on digital collage work that carries a hint of political imagery. Now, with a bit of confidence, Martinez hopes to keep creating and sharing more of this art in new ways.
"The reception has been good and positive. I was worried about putting stuff out and seeing how it goes. So far, so food. People are enjoying it," Martinez told THE BEE during the festival. "For the future, I want to focus on making stuff that is a little more marketable. Making prints of that kind, and trying to get my art out there a bit more."
With Reed College's school year now over for the summer, many of these creatives have more time to work on their RAW grants, to grow their business, or to begin new projects. Reed returns to classes on August 29th.
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