On March 7, members of the USC Community, including students, staff, families and neighbors, gathered together in the USC Fisher Museum of Art’s Harris Hall Courtyard for the fifth annual Celebration of the Arts. The event is organized by the museum’s student group Students with Fisher@USC, in conjunction with the Fisher Museum’s staff, to encourage interest in arts, music and charity.
Students with Fisher was founded in 2012 after the dissolution of the Museum Studies Program, and it aims to provide students with opportunities to engage with the on-campus museum and the arts. In order to do so, the organization vowed to always provide events completely free of cost to all visitors.
While most guests are USC students, the festival is open to everyone. Mo Alabi, a member of Students with Fisher@USC and one of the organizers of the event, believes that Celebration is significant because it ‘gives both organizers and participants a chance to really enjoy the various gifts and talents that USC students share and local artisans have to offer. It’s a casual, accessible event that anyone can feel welcome in and have a good time.’
The festival’s theme was ‘Art of the Self(ie)’ – a celebration of individuality, self-expression, and (of course) selfies! The theme, thoughtfully conceived, aligned with the closing of the Fisher Museum’s two exhibitions about portraiture, ‘Changing Values, Changing Times,’ and ‘Dan McCleary: Every Day Sacred.’ All participating vendors and activity booths related to the theme.
‘I believe it is important to promote arts on campus, because the arts have the power to impact and influence culture and society at large,’ said Amanda Kim, founder and president of USC Mureality. ‘Events in the USC community, like Celebration of the Arts, give artists the opportunity to share their creative vision, voice and talents.’ USC Mureality is a relatively new on-campus organization that hopes to create socially conscious art at USC and in Los Angeles. Celebration of the Arts provided them an opportunity to meet potential members and artists, and gave them a platform to make their voices heard in the community.
Another relatively new on-campus organization participating in the event was the Artist Collective at USC, whose members helped students channel their stress and find inner peace through paintings.
USC-affiliated groups were not the only ones invited to the festival. Since its inception, The Fisher Museum and Students with Fisher have established connections with local and international charities. This year the Students invited Beads for Battle, a non-profit cancer organization that raises awareness by making and donating bracelets to cancer patients and their loved ones. During the festival, representatives of Beads for Battle, including president and founder Cynthia Keyllian, treasurer Talin Saklarian, and secretary Victoria Dochoghlian, asked guests to make bracelets that will be donated to cancer patients worldwide.
‘They were extremely moved knowing the bracelets they are making will be sent to cancer patients worldwide,’ Keylian said. ‘Art brings out the beauty of creativity, and we were blown away by the determination and passion of the students.’
While visitors were able to mingle with vendors, make their own crafts, and enjoy delicious food, performers took the stage and entertained guests — with dances, music and more. USC’s TC Dance, a long-time supporter of Celebration of the Arts, graced the audience with a traditional Chinese dance number.
Following TC Dance’s performance was the experimental band Slow Rose. Slow Rose blends minimalist tones and improvisation with noise, jazz and sounds inspired by Brian Eno. Mark Adam Mekaillian soothed guests with his lyrics.
The festival ended with the harmonious tones of USC’s Saved By Grace Gospel Choir, another long-time supporter of the festival.
Without the generosity of the community, Celebration of the Arts would not have been possible. At the Celebrations’ conclusion, attendants, vendors and performers, unanimously agreed that they would return for future events.
The USC Fisher Museum of Art is currently closed for the installation of California Art Club’s 104th Annual Gold Medal Juried Exhibition, which will be on display March 29 to April 19.
By Ani Mnatsakanyan