The average Friday night on campus consists of students either stumbling around hallways in some stage of inebriation or attending the film series; on a productive evening, perhaps both. But on Oct. 9, many adventurous and eager students descended below Westco into the hollow space affectionately known as the Westco Cafe. The dim basement was packed with people, the air thick with cigarette smoke, the imagery of poets and a Sigur Rós record playing to photography projected on the wall.
Organized by Fareed Sajan ’09 and sponsored by Samizdat Press, the student-run publishers behind the new literary magazine “Ostranenie,” the Art Constellation was a tasteful and captivating presentation of visual art, music, and writing. The event drew students from all years and interests, and kept them coming into the early hours of the morning. It was a showcase for passion and dedication, fruits of the curiosity and creativity Wesleyan’s artistic student population embody.
“Having read at Wes readings before, Art Constellation gathered a more diverse audience [than at previous events],” said Catherine Gavriel ’09. “The genre is something I still struggle with myself, so in collaborative performance arenas like this, it’s so great to have people to provide you with this supportive, artistic, informative base. It also creates a more fertile ground for others to create and show their artistic talents. It’s inviting to everyone.”
The evening started off at 9:00 p.m.—early by most college students’ standards. The first hour or so was a quiet interweaving of about 20 people (many of them the artists) politely wandering around the Café in clusters, taking drags of their cigarettes, shaking hands, and pointing at works on the tagged walls; it was not unlike a gallery opening. Groups gathered around the photography slideshow by Ben Rowland ’08, a masterful display of candid portraiture and landscapes.
“This is why I want to be an art history major,” said Grace Willen ’10. “This is the type of thing I want to do when I’m older, to be a part of.”
The visual art included expressionistic Egon Schiele-esque prints from Travis Fitzgerald ’09, gestural sketches by Chaz Ganster ’08 and, hanging from the ceiling, scenes in oil by Silvie Deutsch ’09 that evoked the spirit of Edward Hopper.
Around 10:30 p.m., the crowd grew, and the previously polite chatter became a rowdy celebration of music show and art.
The first musical act to take the stage was Wesleyan’s own ever-evolving Folk Collective, which played and sang American roots music with a freshness that had nearly everyone in attendance dancing. Between band sets, poets from both Wesleyan and Brooklyn read works that ranged from violent to humorous. Matthew Valades ’09 read from a children’s book about alpacas between his poems, and a Brooklyn poet spoke of such images as “anorexic suns.” Other acts included Sajan’s blues project, “Saddle Up & Go;” and “Swing Hil,” a hardcore collective from Brooklyn who, amidst the contemplative din of the evening, was perhaps the showcase’s only unsettling moment.
Art Constellation was the first in a series planned by Sajan. He hopes that future events will bring the student body together before a variety of creative expression.