With the furniture moved out, the lights turned off and dance music playing, the Silliman College common room resembled a scene out of a New York fashion show. As the models sauntered down the striking white runway bordered with bright footlights, Brynne Lieb ’07 began to tear up.
A young model whipped by, wearing a tight white tank top and a puffy white skirt that only reached her mid-thigh. A huge pink fabric flower attached to the front of the skirt swayed to and fro as she walked. Another girl followed, wearing a white wedding dress with a twist: The dress had only one strap and featured intricate lace and endless straps down the back. Lieb smiled as she watched her designs float down the runway in Wednesday night’s dress rehearsal for Sunday’s YCouture fashion show, part of this weekend’s inaugural Winter Arts Festival.
But fashion is by no means the only art form on display. The first-ever Winter Arts Festival — organized by the Yale Student Activities Committee — will showcase seemingly every kind of art medium at Yale. Featuring everything from student art exhibitions to a theater master class to a student film festival, the Winter Arts Festival is unique in that it allows for all kinds of art — some of which have few opportunities for display — a chance to shine.
Friday night’s kick-off show indicates the wide range of the arts that will be represented over the course of the weekend, featuring a mix of comedy, dance and a cappella performances which usually only share the stage during Bulldog Days.
“There’s so much creativity on the Yale campus, and there really aren’t very many opportunities to showcase this talent,” Lauren Ezell ’07, a YSAC member, said.
Many artists who have had little opportunity to share their work on campus will finally do so this weekend. For architecture students, who usually only show their work at graduation, the festival provides an unprecedented chance for a show during the normal academic year. The Sunday exhibit will feature the work of junior and senior architecture majors, specifically showcasing designs for the Farmington Canal in New Haven and a redesign of New York’s United Nations Plaza.
“We are so excited that architecture is going to be featured,” Leo Stevens ’05, co-president of Ink and Vellum, Yale’s undergraduate architecture forum, said. “Most people have no idea what we’re up to in the Art and Architecture Building,” said Stevens, who is a staff photographer for the News.
The festival presents a similar opportunity for Uyen Le ’06 and her new campus group, YCouture, to strut their stuff. Le created YCouture in November for aspiring designers, and Sunday’s show will mark its public debut.
The fashion show will feature designs from six or seven Yalie designers, including Lieb, each showcasing three or four pieces.
Lieb spent 10 to 15 hours on each of her four designs over winter break in preparation for the show, her fashion debut. Her parents are even making the trip to see her designs on display for the first time.
“I wanted the clothes I designed to be incredibly romantic with lots of lace,” Lieb said. “I was going for an ultra-feminine look in a modern world, clothes that are both elegant and romantic at the same time.”
Smita Gopisetty ’05 is similarly presenting her collection of work to the greater Yale community for the first time. Gopisetty’s photos — a product of over six semesters of photography class at Yale — will be featured in Saturday’s art exhibit.
“Most of the exhibitions I’ve participated in were group shows related to the photo classes I was enrolled in at the time, and we were only allowed to submit a couple of pieces, so the arts festival is a welcome event,” Gopisetty said.
Gopisetty is a former sports editor for the News.
Bulldog Productions and Yale Television are exposing the community to a different kind of visual art in the form of a film festival which will give students a taste of their peers’ cinematic concoctions.
The seven-hour festival (which will be broken up into two showings) will boast a number of different films, ranging from 10-minute shorts to hour-long features.
The films range from a humorous short about a student vampire to a documentary on this year’s Harvard-Yale prank to an action film that portrays taekwondo on the Yale campus. Also included is the feature-length “Tri-State,” first screened on campus in April 2004.
“There really aren’t a lot of outlets for students to see what is going on in the arts,” Alexandra Reeve ’05, president of YTV, said. “That’s why YTV was formed: to bring student work to the forefront. And that’s the ethos of this whole Winter Arts Festival as well, which is why it’s so cool.”
The idea for the festival originated at the beginning of the school year, but the real planning did not start until November, Orly Friedman ’07, a member of YSAC and the chair of the festival, said. An important part of the planning process was coming up with the festival’s theme — “Reflections” — which Friedman said they left purposefully broad so that it would be accessible to all of the different kinds of artists while still providing a “unifying force” for the weekend.
Many of Yale’s peer institutions have similar arts weekends that have become institutions, Friedman said. She said a festival of this kind seemed like a “natural thing” to have at Yale, and she hopes to make the Yale version a similar tradition.
One unique feature of this year’s festival will be its contribution to the tsunami relief effort. Two organizations, Disaster Relief-Sri Lanka and American Red Cross at Yale, teamed up with YSAC to try and raise money through the festival, with proceeds from the kick-off show (tickets sell for $6) split between the two organizations. Nilakshi Parndigamage ’06, one of the organizers of Disaster Relief-Sri Lanka, said the partnership provides Yalies with the opportunity to benefit a good cause while also enjoying great arts.
Though this is the first year of the festival, YSAC has plans for its growth. Friedman said YSAC hopes to attract famous alumni in the future but said the planning began too late this year.
“We’re starting small, and hopefully it will grow into something big,” Ezell said. “Our goal is that it will in future years become something big that people will be anticipating and looking forward to.”
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