Spring Arts Festival

A 1,000-year exposure camera created by an Amherst alum. The Amherst College Glee Club's sesquicentennial. Student and faculty collaborations across artistic disciplines. All this and more is celebrated at the Spring Arts Festival, taking place at various locations on campus Friday, April 10, through Sunday, April 19.

“We have a vibrant arts community that touches almost every corner of our campus,” says Jason Robinson, assistant professor of music. Ron Bashford, professor of theater and dance, agrees: “The spring festival is a chance to highlight some of the students, faculty and guests who work to enrich our community through exhibits, performances and vibrant discussion of the arts at Amherst all year long.”

Robinson and Bashford head The Arts at Amherst Initiative, a collaboration among faculty from Amherst’s Departments of Art and the History of Art, Music and Theater and Dance, as well as the Mead Art Museum, which organized Amherst’s first on-campus arts festival just last year. 

Now an annual event, the 10-day Spring Arts Festival kicks off on April 10 with an opening reception and live jazz performance in the Arms Music Center. The complete schedule features at least one event each day, including:

Film Screening with Akosua Adoma Owusu, Monday, April 13

Owusu, an American-born filmmaker of Ghanaian heritage, presents her award-winning films Kwaku Ananse (2013) and Me Broni Ba (2009) in the Keefe Campus Center Theater at 4:30 p.m.

“Owusu is someone I have wanted to bring as a visitor to Amherst for the past two years,” says Adam Levine, professor of art, film and media studies. “Me Broni Ba, one of the films she will be showing, explores … a striking mixture of cultural reference points: Oprah, Barbie dolls and the great contemporary soul band Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. It should be an especially fun night.”

Student Arts Party at The Powerhouse, Thursday, April 16

Five College students are invited to party with the Arts at Amherst Advocates student group from 8 p.m. to midnight, when student artists turn The Powerhouse into a stage for music, film, theater, dance, splatter painting and performance art.

Event organizer Ian Stahl ’14 says the event is the first of its kind at Amherst: “It’s an opportunity for students to showcase their work in a context that is inclusive of all of the arts disciplines at Amherst.” He says it has already resulted in collaborations between departments: at the event, students in Amherst’s film and media studies program will screen short films made in collaboration with students in the theater and dance department.

Arts Faculty Performance on Saturday, April 19

The festival closes with a faculty performance uniting jazz, dance, new opera and video. “The works represent both works in progress and new work created specifically for the festival,” says Bashford, who’s directing a new opera composed by Eric Sawyer, professor of music, to be performed at the event.

Robinson’s New York-based Janus Ensemble plays selections from Robinson's jazz suite Resonant Geographies. Levine presents You Got Eyes, an experimental video created with movement artist and Arts and Humanities Librarian Sara Smith. And rounding out the program is a new dance work exploring the virtuosity and sensual edge of touch, slow slip down, choreographed by Paul Matteson, Five College assistant professor of dance.

See the full lineup of festival events.

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