In the 13 years that he’s played the piano, Peter Smith never anticipated playing one outside — let alone in the Pit at lunchtime.
But on April 7, the arts at Carolina left the classrooms and music studios and headed outside as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill celebrated Arts Everywhere Day with 50 performances, exhibitions, hands-on activities and installations across campus.
“To see music and all the other arts be brought to the rest of the world is just wonderful,” said Smith, a first-year music student.
Friday’s event marked the official launch of the Arts Everywhere initiative, which is designed to embed the arts into the University’s teaching, research and service.
“This is our opportunity to really celebrate the arts, the fundamental role of the arts in higher education and in society, and in the process of doing it, highlight both the making of art, the learning from art, the aesthetic stimulation from the arts and really try to take that to a higher level here at Carolina,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt.
Established by Folt in July and led by Special Assistant to the Chancellor for the Arts Emil Kang, Arts Everywhere was founded on the principle that the arts are for everyone and aims to further integrate arts into the culture at Carolina.
“You can be a biology major or a Ph.D. student in chemistry and still be artistic and be creative,” Rachel Ash, associate director of Arts Everywhere. “It’s really trying to provide a platform for people who get engaged in the arts no matter what background or academic discipline they’re in.”
The kick-off celebration really began weeks ago when Ackland Art Museum installed its “Los Trompos” exhibit throughout campus. Created by Mexican furniture designers Héctor Esrawe and Ignacio Cadena, the interactive installation features 8-foot-tall tops made of colorful fabric.
Carolina students also transformed ten pianos into works art that were then placed at various locations on campus for anyone to play.
But on Arts Everywhere Day, the initiative completely took over Carolina with performances, installations and actives held at 20 sites. Forty campus partners, including 19 departments or units and 21 student groups teamed up to make the day a reality.
From live mural painting at Polk Place and pop-up performances by campus musicians to a “Dumpster Monster” by the Undergraduate Library and a performance of My Fair Ladyby the PlayMakers Repertory Company, the daylong event shined a spotlight on the University’s visual arts, music and performing arts.
“The most important part of this day really was to showcase how every student actually can be part of the arts,” Kang said. “Too often times many people think of the arts as something that other people do. I think what we’re really trying to showcase is the creativity of our students.”
Throughout the afternoon, students passing by between classes stopped to paint, listen and watch as Carolina’s art culture was on full display.
For many, including junior biology student Delferro, the showcase was an inspiration to get involved in the arts.
“It shows me that, not necessarily that I need to be an art major, but I can incorporate art in smaller ways,” he said. “I don’t need to spend 15 hours a day on art to get involved in it. It showed that there are resources on campus to do art as much or as little as I want to. I’m definitely more inspired to participate.”