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'YOU are an artist': Campus celebrates seventh annual Arts Everywhere Day

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UNC Chamber Players, Natalie Druffner (first-year), Olivia Fults (sophomore) and Cindy Xu (sophomore), played for students sitting-in on their rehearsal during Arts Everywhere Day on April 14, 2023.

Despite the rainy weather, last Friday’s Arts Everywhere Day became an opportunity for all students — no matter their major or campus involvement — to become artists. 

Friday marked the seventh annual rendition of the campus event promoting creative expression. This year’s theme centered around the phrase “YOU Are an Artist.”

“I think that we really stuck to the theme by having so much variety and inviting students who aren't typically invited or not typically involved with the arts to come and be a part of it,” Abby Wooten, a chancellor's fellow who helped organize the event, said. 

This year’s Arts Everywhere Day was originally intended to be a campus-wide celebration in the Pit, with more than 30 events and and creative activities spread across the University during class transition times. 

But with unanticipated showers on Friday, the festivities were largely concentrated inside the Student Union.

Sophomores Lacey McLamb and Mary Linares lead a jazz dance workshop for Arts Everywhere Day on April 14, 2023.

“Having it in one place allowed for a little bit more focused concentration – that allowed just a different kind of intimacy on a rainy day,” Alison Friedman, executive and artistic director at Carolina Performing Arts, said.

With the shift in plans, students had to intentionally seek out the celebration, rather than accidentally walking by the Pit, or another location across campus. This may have been the reason every individual that came to the Union was so engaged in the activities, Friedman said.

The showcased arts included singing, dancing, poetry writing, animations and collaborative canvas work, which allowed students to engage in a plethora of different activities.

“It's so important to center the arts at UNC," Wooten said. "They are a great way for people to come together and make friends and find things they're passionate about. And I think we really showed people that the arts are a worthy endeavor for all students."

Wooten said she hopes students take the theme of “YOU Are an Artist” to heart and realize that a creative major is not necessary to be involved in the arts. UNC is a place where students should feel safe to experiment with different creative outlets, she said.

Friedman also noted that one of the women who was leading a crafting activity in the Union was a biology major and music minor. 

“That is so classic of UNC to have that combination of majors, and then to have side projects in your own creative practice,” she said.

Friedman’s favorite moment from the day was the “unexpected combination” of UNC Cypher, a freestyle musical group, performing in the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center with rotating galaxy images on the ceiling.

Seth Mitchell and Jean Cheng make rubber stamps for Arts Everywhere Day in the FedEx Global Center on April 14, 2023.

Nori “Shaggy” West is a member of several student groups involved in the event and the co-president of UNC Cypher. He said that being invited to a “very public” University building to perform is legitimizing the art form of rap, after it has sometimes been looked down upon for decades.

“There's no real qualification that you need to create art," West said. “That's the whole idea of Arts Everywhere; art isn't confined to a place, it’s not confined to a person, it’s not confined to a degree, it’s not confined to anything. And I think we were able to help showcase that.”

Wooten and the other Chancellor's Fellows, who organized the day, reached out to dozens of artistic faculty and student groups on campus to ensure that as many organizations as possible were represented.

While the event mainly highlighted student groups, local artist Poetry Fox was also participated in Arts Everywhere and wrote over 80 poems for students.

Wooten said her favorite moment of the day was when there was a line of people wrapped around the building waiting to have a poem written for them on demand.

“Even Chancellor Guskiewicz got a poem written for himself, which was a lot of fun to see him get to kind of let loose and do that,” she said.

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With the involvement of students and faculty, the day became a way of bringing the University community together through the arts, Friedman said.

“Art can sort of have us have hard conversations and reflect on things, but a lot of people — especially in the middle of a very busy semester — were really grateful for the joy and the community building,” she said.

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