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Reflecting on four years of the arts on campus

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last four years

As spring quarter comes to a close, we can reflect on the many moments of the last four years that have defined the arts and on-campus events for this year’s graduating class. In that time we have seen comedy shows, drama performances, art exhibits, festivals, annual celebrations, and more. Let's look at a few that happened during each school year.

In fall 2016, we all came in as fresh-faced Huskies, unsure of what was to come. The year began with things like “A Showcase of Black Excellence,” an art gallery hosted by the UW Black Student Union. The Thai Student Association hosted the first-ever Thai Food Festival, while the annual UW Asian Student Commission Talent Show happened in April.The Jacob Lawrence Gallery celebrated Black History Month in February by putting on “Jacob Lawrence: The Legend of John Brown + Other Works,” and the Henry Art Gallery put the spotlight on LGBTQ+ history with their exhibit “Museum of Trans Hirstory and Art” that captivated students and visitors alike.

The school year of 2017-2018 saw us catch our bearings, perhaps identify our majors, and become more grounded in the UW community. The annual Seattle Art Fair in late August of 2017 included UW student and faculty representation. The now regularly-hosted Black Jaw began, an open mic event that the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program puts on to celebrate creative work and writing. The UW School of Drama presented “By the Way, Meet Vera Stark,” and the UW Hip Hop Student Association held "Still Dreaming: A UWHHSA Showcase in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr." in January as well as the annual “Fresh Fit Fashion Show” in March. In April, the UW improv troupe The Collective, and the U-Dub Comedy Club held a show raising money for Camp Kessem. The annual UW Night Market in May, called “Taiwan Yes!” that year and planned by the UW Taiwanese Student Association, brought participants from the UW community and beyond. 

Macus Lux, a senior double majoring in English and Cinema & Media Studies (CMS), recalls seeing local rap artist Noname in concert during the 2017 UW Fall Fling. 

“It was the first ‘real’ event I went to at UW, and the show was especially memorable given that I got to meet her backstage after the set,” Lux said. “To see her evolve over time has been a great experience for me. With her avid and vocal support of Black liberation across not only the U.S., but also the world, Noname has been a great source of inspiration.”

The academic year of 2018-2019 was awash in events. The UW Fall Fling included the band “Gypsy Temple,” composed of several UW students. Ukrainian folk group “Kurbasy” performed at the Meany Arts Center in November, CMS celebrated its first year as an established major, and the School of Art + Art History + Design hosted (now former) Seattle Art Museum Curator Chiyo Ishikawa. In November, the first QTPOC hip-hop show was hosted by Rainy Dawg Radio and the ASUW Queer Student Commission, and in April the celebrated visit from comedian Eric Andre occurred. The annual Spring Show in May featured artists that included UW student wilsonlikethevolleyball. The school year came to a close with events like Prism, a student art exhibit hosted by the UW Interdisciplinary Visual Art’s Senior Studio course.

This past year has been special. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, 2020 has been an eventful year in the arts. After a long period of construction, the Burke Museum on campus finally opened the doors to its newly redesigned and renovated home. The art of several students in the MFA program made up “Irreducible Forms,” an exhibition at the Jacob Lawrence Gallery. The Henry Art Gallery held its first museum-wide exhibit, titled “In Plain Sight,” which looked at a wide range of art mediums and forms. Then, COVID-19 hit. 

However, this didn’t slow down the arts. The UW Salsa Club offered free online classes and many clubs, including the UW FIlm Club and the UW Poetry Club, continued virtually.  Comedian Nathan Fielder recently held a virtual comedy session, and the year will end with a virtual zoom graduation ceremony.

This list of events doesn’t begin to cover the extensive art community that thrives at the UW, the student groups it holds, or the events that occur. Overall, though, we can see what brings students to our campus each year: a thriving art scene, composed of devoted students and faculty.

Reach writer Grace Harmon at Twitter: @Grace_Viv

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