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ArtsFest 2009 to examine art and power

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Art has intrinsic power.

It can challenge convention, shatter complacency, and change the way we look at the world and ourselves.

That significant authority is the theme of DePauw University's upcoming gathering of artists, performers and art appreciators, "ArtsFest 2009: Art & Power."

The eighth annual festival begins Nov. 1 and continues through Nov. 7, showcasing the many talents of the DePauw community and visiting artists.

"ArtsFest 2009: Art & Power" aims to examine art capable of challenging political ideologies, advancing spiritual movements and inciting social revolutions with a diverse and abundant schedule of performances, exhibitions, lectures, concerts and film screenings. Highlights will include a performance that riffs on marriage rituals by the legendary Holly Hughes, a constant challenger of contemporary mores. Hughes was one of the "NEA Four," artists who encountered censorship resulting in the rescinding of National Endowment for the Arts funding in the early 1990s. She will also join a team of DePauw professors to debate artistic freedom at the ArtsFest 2009 panel discussion "Power & Art: challenging censorship & repression."

The work of composers who created during periods of political upheaval comprises most of the festival's music offerings. The DePauw Symphony Orchestra will perform Shostakovich's 5th Symphony, a covert expression of the composer's opinion of Soviet Totalitarianism. Student and faculty ensembles will present the work of William Byrd -- who composed during Elizabethan religious censure -- and enduring music composed and first performed during periods of confinement in WWII Nazi camps.

Theatre offerings run the gamut from a performance of "King Lear," Shakespeare's masterpiece of power and betrayal presented by the lauded touring company Actors From The London Stage to a piece debating town/gown relations created improvisationally by a troupe of Greencastle and DePauw community members to a student theatre "happening" in 24 hours time.

If your taste runs to the visual arts, exhibitions are plentiful. The Richard E. Peeler Art Gallery is sponsoring a semester-long exhibition of works from the University's permanent contemporary collection and visiting installation artist Sonja Hinrichsen, whose show opens on Nov. 4.

A visit to the Galleries on this day is highly recommended as one may begin with Hinrichsen's artist talk at 4 p.m. and stay for the DePauw Percussion Ensemble's performance at 6:30 p.m. in and amongst the exhibition "How Soon Is Now: Contemporary Art from the Permanent Collection."

Student interpretations of the ArtsFest theme can be viewed in a photography exhibit at Roy O. West Library and at the Low Road Gallery located on the square in downtown Greencastle.

Additionally, a public art exhibition will be open to all throughout the course of the festival a Graffiti Wall will be up on campus encouraging public expression.

Rounding out the schedule are events highlighting the artistic visions of creative writers, dancers and filmmakers. The Kelly Writer Series is sponsoring award-winning writer Ron Carlson.

Attributable to this generous and esteemed artist are ten books of fiction -- one chosen as the best book of 2007 by the Los Angeles Times, essays in publications such as The New Yorker and The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction and a book on the process of writing.

Hip-hop will bounce on the stage of Kresge Auditorium to close ArtsFest on Nov. 7, offered by visiting artists 61SYX TEKNIQUE.

And festival visitors can satisfy film cravings with the offbeat comedy Good Life Delivery and cult thriller V for Vendetta -- shown just a few days before the Nov. 5 anniversary of the infamous Gunpowder Plot that factors into the movie's plot.

Speaking of anniversaries, several departments are collaborating to bring to the festival a birthday party celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. The soiree will include footage of the weeklong event in Beijing and homemade Chinese hors d'oeuvres.

Almost last, but certainly not least, are S-Fix: Tackling the -Ism -- a collaborative performance piece presented by dancers, poets and more; the Roy O. West collection department exhibition of texts addressing the effect of power in and over art, the annual hit philanthropic Kappa Kappa Gamma Fashion Show and the favorite of Thursday nights -- Jazz at the Duck featuring the DePauw Jazz Combos.

Finally, any announcement of DePauw University's annual ArtsFest is not complete without mention of Art Attack -- the festival tradition designed specifically for children -- where over 25 student organizations collaborate to offer Putnam County children their passion for artistic performance and craft.

All events are free and open to the public except for the Kappa Kappa Gamma Fashion show, with ticket fees of $3 going to Dress for Success.

A detailed schedule including full descriptions, dates, times and venues for all "ArtsFest 2009: Art & Power" visual, performing, and creative art events can be found at www.depauw.edu/arts/artsfest.

For additional information contact Gigi Fenlon at gfenlon@depauw.edu or 658-4485.

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