Quad Arts Festival Seeks to Make Arts Accessible

Sarah A. Moon '15 and Sammy G. Young '15 have big plans for drawing students into the arts—one of which involves structures built out of marshmallows. Moon and Young have organized the first Quad Arts Festival, to be held this afternoon in the SOCH. A space on the first floor of the building will be arranged into a collection of stations where volunteers will host a range of hands-on artistic activities. Moon and Young hope the event will encourage students to engage with the arts regardless of previous experience.

At the festival, each station will function like a brief workshop in a certain craft. At one station, Leandro Couto de Almeida, a tutor in Cabot, will teach clay-making with hand tools; at another, Emily C. Lowe '14 and Francesca S. Del Frate '15 will lead friendship bracelet-making. Jordan T. Colman '15, Monica M. Palos '15, and Ege Yumusak '16 will coordinate the drawing and painting station, where participants will work together to create a large mural. "We'll have a Jackson Pollock-like painting activity where everyone does their own little piece, and then put it all together and make one big piece," Young says. Students will be able to take home pieces they create at these stations.

Apart from the stations, the festival will also feature live piano music and an engineering design contest. Competitors, working individually or in teams, will be given a certain amount of time to build a structure of marshmallows and other materials; the winner will receive a prize.

In addition to orchestrating this festival, they have made plans to open a roughly 600-square-foot arts space at Cabot House next semester. Moon says they intend the space for the benefit of students who want to include art in their lives without necessarily having the larger commitment of a club or class. "That's the whole idea behind the collaborative aspect and the space and the event itself," Moon says. "We're trying to get the widest range of people possible."

Moon and Young, both Cabot House residents, have been working to open the arts space since they were freshmen. "Sarah Moon and Sammy Young came to us just after housing day and expressed their interest in starting an arts-type studio here at Cabot," Cabot House Master Stephanie R. Khurana says. The studio, Moon and Young say, will include areas for sculpting, pottery, painting, and drawing, in addition to other workspaces.

Moon and Young emphasize that the event caters to newcomers as well as practiced artists. "[We welcome] people with a general interest in art: either some experience in high school or like, random experience, or [who] just have never tried before. We want to bring them together and make them welcome and not intimidated," Moon says.

The festival will be run entirely by volunteering individuals and not clubs. Instead of soliciting participation from established artistic organizations on campus, Moon and Young have sought to bring together both individuals who are formally affiliated with the arts at Harvard and those who are not. "These artists that we’re trying to get aren't VES concentrators and aren't, like, part of the ballet association," Moon says. "Basically, this whole event is trying to access people who aren't already involved in art as well as bring other people who are involved in art together."

At the end of the day, some may go to the festival simply in quest of a short, de-stressing session in the middle of finals preparation. "In making it accessible to everyone, especially that it's during Reading Period, it will be a really good study break—to have tactile engagement in the midst of everything you are working on in your head during finals period," Moon says.