Campus shows off creativity at Art Crawl, TechArts

The Institute, normally known for its graduates’ skills in math, science, and engineering, bucked those expectations this week through a series of events showcasing the creativity that resides on campus. The Clough Commons Art Crawl and the TechArts festival combined to display a new side of the normally quantitative campus.

The Clough Commons Art Crawl held on Friday, Feb. 10, showcased the talent of individual student artists. Sections of the Clough Commons were turned into galleries meant for the display of student art. The event featured 160 student submissions including paintings, photographs, sculptures.

[media-credit name=”Josh Sandler” align=”alignleft” width=”337″][/media-credit]“The Art Crawl is a response to an ongoing buzz from students wanting a creative outlet,” said Jennifer Upton, Marketing Events Manager for the Clough Commons. “This is the first step towards a more artistic Tech community.”

In addition to the visual art on display, the Art Crawl showcased instrumentalists and other performing artists. Several soloists played throughout the evening.

The Art Crawl worked with Erato, Tech’s literary magazine, to provide a venue for students to read poetry and short fiction. Julia Turner, co-editor of Erato, considered the event a great success.

“There are a lot of Tech students involved with art and not a lot of places for them to express that,” said Turner. “People like to say, ‘You do math and science; you can’t be into art.’ That’s a false divide. I think Tech does a good job trying to bridge the gap.”

Artists who participated in the Art Crawl were surprised at the number of students who submitted art.

“I wasn’t expecting to see this much diversity of work,”  said Sarah Horsley, a painter and a third-year STaC major. “I’m proud of Tech and its students. I feel like we should have more exposure for our talent in the arts.”

Students found the diversity and quality of art on display especially impressive considering the nature of academic life at Tech.

“Since we’re not an art school, you know these pieces weren’t just made for class,” said Jenn Bateman, a fifth-year PTFE major whose photographs were on display. “It’s interesting to see what people can do in their spare time.”

Some of the artists used their work as a way to escape the rigors of daily Tech life.

“My major can be very hectic, but I always make a point of taking time off for my hobby,” said Romil Bhansali, a Supply Chain Engineering grad student who showcased five of his photographs. “It’s always worth it.”

But other artists admit that it’s difficult to balance their artistic pursuits with their academic workload at Tech. Several artists said that their pieces on display were made during high school and that they’ve had difficulty continuing their hobbies since coming to Tech.

“I’d love to paint more, but I don’t have the space or resources here at Tech,” said Skyler Westlake, a first-year ID major.

“The only way is to sign up for painting classes at Emory or elsewhere,” Horsley said.

The Institute aims to address some of those student concerns through the establishment of TechArts. One of the new initiative’s goals is to increase the number of resources available to students wanting to pursue the arts. Gil Weinberg, Director of the Tech Center for Music Technology and co-chair of the initiative, believes that increasing the role of the arts at Tech will foster a culture of creativity and innovation among Tech students.

“Our goal is to infuse art into every aspect of Tech, from research to education,” said Weinberg. “This means working with professors who are developing new technologies for art and providing a greater range of education in the arts.”

TechArts, organized in its first year by the College of Architecture as a part of the 25-year strategic plan laid out in 2009, will be responsible for finding ways to develop and showcase student talent, highlighting innovative research that blends art and technology, and exposing students to world-class artistic talents through live performances and other events. This year, Weinberg and his committe have put together three events, which they hope will be a “sneak peak” of future TechArts festivals.

The Drawn Together exhibit is an interactive 3D experience that blends music, art, and technology. Participants can interact with a 3D display, which uses artificial intelligence to create visual and musical responses.

The exhibit is ongoing and is open to the public in the Architecture East Building.

The Guthman Musical Instrument Competition will feature new ideas in musical instrument design and see participants from across the world. The final event will be a performance by Jade Simmons at the Ferst Center featuring an improvising robotic musician.