Student-run groups offer home for visual, performing and literary arts at AU
Find a community of performers, artists or writers to join this semester
Almost every day, students file into the Katzen Arts Center to work on graphic design projects, practice for recitals and interpret works of art. But there are some students who may never step into Katzen simply because they have decided to dedicate their class time towards other pursuits.
Luckily, students are coming together to introduce the arts to those outside of the classroom. Communities surrounding the performing, visual and literary arts are ready to share their joy for the creation and appreciation of art with new and returning students alike. No matter which kind of art you’re interested in, AU has plenty of organizations for you to join.
“Many people will find that no one gets anywhere by themselves and I find that to be particularly true with theater,” said senior Mallorie Stern, the co-executive director of AU Players.
Stern thinks theater is an art form perfectly situated for collaboration.
“We have to have the stage managers, the actors, the directors, the designers, the tech crew. Every single person is important,” Stern said.
AU Players is a student-run theater organization with the aim of providing students with opportunities to perform and produce works outside the University’s Department of Performing Arts.
“The really great thing about our organization is that it’s open to all people who are interested in any type of theater,” Stern said.
AU Players is willing to involve students with ranging levels of experience and skill with theater. Putting on a production requires more than a few actors. Stern said that some members first become involved with the club because they want to learn more about building a set or lighting display for a performance. Graphic design students produce promotional materials. Fashion students design costumes. Other students help with the administrative side of putting on a show.
Stern’s first foray with AU Players began when her friend asked her to be the stage manager for a play she was directing called “Circle Mirror Transformation.” Stern had no experience as a stage manager, but she wanted to help her friend. Now, Stern is one of the group’s top leaders.
This fall, AU Players is working on a production of the play “Steel Magnolias.” They will hold auditions during the first weekend in September. Students who want to help produce the play can email AU Players at firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications for various production roles are also available on their Facebook page.
Stern also recommended the Department of Performing Arts Welcome Back Night, which will be held on Aug. 29 at 8 p.m. in the Abramson Recital Hall (located in Katzen). At the event, students can learn more about performing arts majors and minors and other performance opportunities. More information on performance opportunities is available on the Department of Performing Arts website.
For students who enjoy a more tactile creation process, there is the AU Art Students Guild. The guild is for students who want to cultivate an interest in the visual arts.
“To me, most of the AU students who come in, they study policy or political science or mathematics,” said the guild’s president, Rose Atichattumrong.
Atichattumrong said that many of these students discover a passion for drawing or fashion after taking a class at the Katzen Arts Center. The guild is meant to encourage that passion with group drawing sessions, artist talks and art gallery visits. Last semester, the guild tried to hold one of these events every week.
“If you want to be an artist you have to go out and talk to other artists,” Atichattumrong said. “Coming to the Art Guild, you find a community that wants to do the same thing. It’s really hard to find those people who want to go to gallery openings with you when you’re not in the art school.”
There are other ways to pursue the visual arts as well. Students can showcase their graphic design skills with the AU Design Club or view art exhibits at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center.
Both AU Players and the AU Art Students Guild are relatively flexible in the amount of time they ask their members to commit, but the literary arts are perhaps most suited for students with only a few hours to dedicate to an artistic interest.
For those who can’t make any long-term commitments, there is the Literature Department’s Visiting Writers Series. Every year, published novelists, poets and nonfiction writers are invited to give live readings of their work and participate in artist Q&A’s. This year’s calendar has yet to be published, but last year’s calendar should give literature enthusiasts an idea of what to expect. The Literature Department also manages a separate calendar for all its other events.
Students with more free time should look into the American Literary Magazine, or AmLit. AmLit is published once every semester and features poetry, prose, photography, visual art and film created by students.
Senior Amanda Hodes, the co-editor-in-chief of AmLit, emphasized that the magazine is produced entirely by students.
“We run our magazine submission process democratically, so we have review sessions that all AU students, regardless of major or class standing, are able to attend,” she said.
The deadline to submit creative works to be included in the review sessions is Sept. 18. AmLit will also hold a general interest meeting on Sept. 11 at 8:15 p.m. in MGC 200. AmLit staff design the magazine’s layout, which can be an artistic pursuit of its own, Hodes added.
“A lot of our design team shows up with no experience and that is absolutely fine,” Hodes said. “Our design editors are prepared to help train you and lead you through every step of the process.”
AmLit also hosts its own literary events. On Sept. 15, AmLit will host poet Henry Crawford, who writes poems in computer code.
“We are very interested in building and supporting the arts community at AU,” Hodes said.
Correction: This article has been corrected to reflect that the AU Art Students Guild president's name is Rose Atichattumrong, not Rose Heichappumrong.