To kick off the school’s first Kitao Fall Arts Festival, Saturday morning and afternoon were dedicated to festivities, including a printmaking session, a tea ceremony workshop, a collage and poetry workshop, and more. The workshops emphasized the artistic beauty in the everyday life of a student.
The morning began at the Kitao Gallery. With doors wide open and a breakfast feast ready for those to indulge in the arts, students immediately felt welcomed into the space of creative flow and positive energy.
The first event of the day consisted of block printing. Students were encouraged to carve designs of their choice onto woodblocks. They coated the blocks with ink and printed their creations on paper, tote bags, and anything else they could get their hands on.
Elena Solano ’17 believed the workshop was a good opportunity for her to incorporate art into her life as opposed to just seeing art hung in galleries.
“I’m really into aesthetics and decorations, and I really just want to create a nice space,” said Solano. “It’s so cool that I get to make my own pieces for my room.”
The next event on the day’s schedule was the tea ceremony workshop taught by Professor Sakomura, Associate Professor of Art and Art History at the college. She began by giving students a bit of insight on the historical background of the practice of drinking tea, noting that tea ceremonies are a celebration of things aged – things that are imperfect.
Sakomura then moved into a comparison of tea rooms to the feeling of being in a mother’s womb. Despite the high ceilings in the Kitao Gallery, the attendees sat down close together to feel the intimacy that is generated in real tea rooms.
“When you’re in a tea space, it’s like you’re floating on the ground,” said Sakomura. “You have to sit with legs folded and body upright.”
The specific actions that occur during a tea ceremony all have some deeper social context to them. One principle Sakomura repeatedly noted was the importance of acknowledgement and making eye contact with those close to you, which worked to serve as a critique of the lack of personal engagement in today’s society. In addition, there was a lot of movement. The tea and snacks were passed back and forth, highlighting the notion that energy flows in cycles.
To top off the morning, students were encouraged to release the ideas in their heads through speech and crafting. The workshop began with spoken word from the school’s spoken word poetry collective, OASIS, which was met with high accolades from many students, including Celine Anderson ’19. The event ended with a relaxed session of collaborative creating through collage-making.
“I really enjoyed the OASIS performance,” said Anderson. “It was incredibly special and moving to see what Swarthmore’s creatives are doing and to watch their contributions to the Swarthmore community.”
Several students, including Wendy Tan ’19, found that the festival’s events to be successful in creating a dynamic and refreshing space that they never had the opportunity to engage in previously.
“I really like arts and crafts, and this is the first time I’ve heard of something like this happening on campus without requiring you to be in an art class,” said Tan. “I’ve been looking for clubs that let you do art, but we don’t have very many on campus.”
For those interested, Professor Sakomura will be teaching a class similar to the tea ceremony workshop in the spring titled “Crafting Nature: The Art of Japanese Tea Culture.”