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Q&A: Art After Dark

The second annual Art After Dark festival, held in Old Union and White Plaza from May 17 to 19, featured over 250 pieces of artistic work from over 100 artists, ranging from spoken word to paintings to sculptures. The event was a collaborative effort between the Student Organizing Committee for the Arts (SOCA) and Students for a Sustainable Stanford (SSS), seeking to showcase Stanford’s artistic talent while presenting an underlying theme of sustainability. The Daily discussed the festival with SOCA director Jennifer Schaffer ’14.

The Stanford Daily (TSD): How did the event Art After Dark come to form?

Jennifer Schaffer (JS): Last year, it was called Vision eARTh. Before that, the arts and sustainability events were held separately but on the same weekend. The art event was called “An Art Affair,” and the sustainability event was called “Future Fest.” Since then it has evolved because we decided that the festivals could benefit from being joined together.

TSD: How so?

JS: Both groups [SOCA and SSS] came to the mutual understanding that sustainable messages are best conveyed in creative ways and [through] innovative thinking–that’s why we find the partnership to be very effective. Our goal was that the event would focus on art, but would have a sustainable thread running through everything–even the infrastructure was sustainable.

TSD: Can you talk a little more about the architecture at the event?

JS: We decided to do a transparent tent so people could see the artwork from outside, as well as pillars with glowing solar lights. It was both aesthetically pleasing and gave a sense of unity throughout the exhibit. We definitely brought a design eye to the festival.

TSD: How do you select what art to display? What were some of the highlights this year?

JS: It was a really open and inclusive submission process. It was more about trying to figure out which part of the exhibit the art would best fit in and soliciting pieces. It is both a process of curating and having open submissions.

TSD: What made this year’s exhibition different from last year’s exhibition?

JS: There was definitely more electronic and interactive art. One of our goals was to stretch the way Stanford conceived of art in our community. I think that the quality and diversity of the artwork this year was phenomenal. We had Stanford DJs and bands, a film from the Stanford Film Society and performances from the Cardinal Ballet and the Stanford Shakespeare Company among many other shows and displays. We were trying to include every medium this year.

TSD: Was there any difference in the events on the three different days?

JS: Thursday had more of a street festival vibe while Friday and Saturday had more of a lawn party atmosphere during the day. We saw our biggest turnout on Saturday when it turned from laid-back to energetic during the night.

TSD: What was the experience of planning the event like?

JS: It was incredible but also incredibly busy. I got pneumonia right before the festival, so I relied heavily on the core team of SOCA and SSS members to put the event together. As a team, we have been working [on the event] tirelessly since before school started this year. There were also a lot of volunteers from the art and sustainable community and from all corners of campus.

TSD: What does the event mean to you?

JS: Personally, as a freshman, I perceived a lack of art on campus and wanted to be a part of something that would galvanize talented artists all across campus. I think we succeeded in doing that.

-Natasha Weaser

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