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Eighth Arts Everywhere Day serves as catalyst for yearlong creativity

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Rameses Jr. watches the Poetry Fox type at the Interactive Arts Fair on Friday.

Last Friday, students, creativity and bubbles filled the Pit for an Interactive Art Fair, organized as part of the eighth annual Arts Everywhere Day.

Organizations, from Student-Made UNC to the Carolina Film Association, tabled and spoke with students as volunteers in bright blue shirts handed out t-shirts and pizza. A line patiently waited for the Poetry Fox, a local poet dressed in a fox costume who writes poems on a typewriter based on one-word prompts.

This was just one event of many taking place across campus, meant to provide exposure for arts groups at UNC, said Taliajah “Teddy” Vann, a chancellor's fellow and this year's creative director of Arts Everywhere Day.

“All the organizations that are here with us today, they do their own events,” she said. “But the more exposure and support that we can give them, the more we're doing our part to enrich this really robust, talented community.”

Aside from student organizations, PlayMakers Repertory Company previewed their newest show, “The Game,” on Friday, and the Ackland Art Museum hosted a special tour of their current exhibit “Past Forward: Native American Art from Gilcrease Museum.”

Throughout the day, there were also opportunities for students to be creative across campus, from button-making outside of Davis Library to carving rubber stamps in the FedEx Global Education Center.

Alison Friedman, the executive and artistic director at Carolina Performing Arts and producer of Arts Everywhere Day, said she wants the event to have a catalytic effect for students who want to get involved in the arts at UNC.

“One thing I want people to take away is actually that all of this is happening all year long,” she said. “It's not just happening on this one day, but there's power in having the concentration to see the variety at one concentrated time and place.”

Two years ago, now-senior Ler Hser was leaving a recitation class when she noticed a long line for the Poetry Fox at an Arts Everywhere Day event. She and her friend, Eliza Sparrow, ended up making new friends in line, and Hser brought home a poem for her friend’s birthday

This year, in what she called a “full circle moment,” she got a poem for the same friend — this time as an engagement gift.

“(Arts Everywhere Day is) a good pause from this rhythm of student life of going to class and doing school, and then acknowledging people who do stuff with their hands or words and getting to appreciate the craft that they make out of that,” Hser said.

Sparrow, a junior, said that the “fun art day” creates community and is perfectly timed in a busy part of the semester to provide a break for students to unwind before exams and graduation. 

The day concluded with students sprawled in the grass and on blankets in front of South Building to watch performances from dance teams, the Hip-Hop Ensemble, a cappella groups and poets at the first-ever Arts Everywhere Performance Showcase. 

Before the showcase, students also participated in an Arts Everywhere Day tradition, the BIG SCREAM, a guided yelling exercise meant to provide catharsis and relieve stress led by actors from PlayMakers Repertory Company.

This year is Friedman’s third year helping organize Arts Everywhere Day, and over this time, she has witnessed huge volumes of creative pursuits from students, faculty and staff.

Friedman said that she likes to think about “arts and,” or, how multiple disciplines can cross-pollinate, like arts and AI or arts and science.

“If nothing else, I want the students who came through here today to know that everything about them has a layer of art and creativity in it, there's a level of talent in all of it,” Vann said. “And just because it's not science or research-based, doesn't necessarily mean that it's not valuable.”

@eliza_benbow

@dthlifestyle | lifestyle@dailytarheel.com

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Eliza Benbow

Eliza Benbow is the 2023-24 lifestyle editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as summer university editor. Eliza is a junior pursuing a double major in journalism and media and creative writing, with a minor in Hispanic studies.