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Showing Off

Arts Showcase features student performers from various disciplines

Emily B. Hecht ’11 performs at the first Arts Showcase, an exhibition for performance and visual art founded by sophomores Maya S. Sugarman and Eliott J. Rosenbaum.
Emily B. Hecht ’11 performs at the first Arts Showcase, an exhibition for performance and visual art founded by sophomores Maya S. Sugarman and Eliott J. Rosenbaum.
By Alexandra L. Almore, Contributing Writer

“It’s always important for students creating any type of art to try to figure out what they are hoping to achieve from their art and to find out how their art affects other people,” says Freshmen Arts Program (FAP) director Dana E. Knox. Knox serves as the faculty advisor for the Harvard Arts Showcase, an informal arts exhibition created by Maya S. Sugarman ’12 and Elliott J. Rosenbaum ’12.

Sugarman and Rosenbaum, who participated in FAP and starred in the Freshmen Musical together as the romantic lead couple, conceived the Harvard Arts Showcase last spring. Both had been invited to sing in a senior recital organized by Beth G. Shields ’10, who was heavily involved with technical theater during her time at Harvard.

During the summer, Sugarman and Rosenbaum recalled their experience in FAP and of performing with students from varying musical and theatrical backgrounds during Shields’ recital. “We remembered how cool it was to see work people had been doing on their own outside the classroom: with their voice teachers, in practice rooms, or even just singing in the shower,” Rosenbaum says.

The founders of the Showcase left the recital with a desire to create a vehicle for artistic effort in any stage of development. “We thought the OFA [Office for the Arts] would be a great place to go to use some of their resources and their space to sort of reignite the artistic spark on campus,” Rosenbaum says. Over the summer, Sugarman and Rosenbaum deliberated about the name and logistics of the event. ‘Showcase’ seemed to best fit the intentions of the exhibition, as it avoided a title like ‘open mic,’ which would exclude displays of visual art, photography, and other installations.

Originally, Sugarman and Rosenbaum imagined the Showcase as an event for singers, but they were then inspired to include artists from other disciplines. “Ideally we would love this to be something that all artists on campus would go to,” Rosenbaum says. “You would walk in, and in the lobby you have someone’s VES [Visual and Environmental Studies] work on display or someone’s photos or someone’s painting, and you’d go upstairs to the studio, and there would be dancers and singers performing alongside musicians and playwrights.”

Sugarman and Rosenbaum have expressed a desire not only to include representatives from all different art forms on campus, but also to involve audiences in dialogue and feedback regarding the performances. “What we really want it to be like is an environment with active participation so we can see how we can work together to improve our art,” Sugarman says.

“I’m excited to see how [the Showcase] develops,” Knox says. “Right now it’s very much a blank slate... I don’t know what to expect nor do I want to project what to expect.”

The first Showcase was held last Friday in the New College Theater Studio. While some students exhibited pieces they had prepared, others chose to perform impromptu. The Showcase featured a diverse array of genres, including indie folk, pop, and classical violin. Patrick W. Spence ’12 shared a hymn for “exiles in the Quad,” a rap about Classical Greece, a tribute to Reverend Peter Gomes, and a poem about the closing of the Quad Library. Founders Sugarman and Rosenbaum sang show tunes from “Minnie’s Boys” and “Lucky Stiff.” Additional performers included Chad R. Cannon ’11, Isabel Q. Carey ’12, Rheeqrheeq A. Chainey ’10-’11, Christine E. Gummerson ’12, and Emily B. Hecht ’11, with David R. Sawicki ’12 as piano accompaniment. At the event’s close, all participants and attendees gathered around the piano to sing “When You Believe” from “The Prince of Egypt.”

Isabel Q. Carey, ’12, who performed Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love,” says, “I would like to see this become a monthly staple. I think it’s a great opportunity for casual presentation.”

“The objective of this showcase is to provide a safe environment to go out on a limb,” says Knox. “Give it a try! You never know what hidden talents you may have.”

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