They aren’t called “starving artists” for nothing.
For independent musicians, filmmakers, painters, photographers and any other artists trying to get their work out to the public, getting a big break isn’t always easy. Most of the time, people aren’t aware of an entire world of creative work that goes beyond the average gallery or theater.
The Independent Arts Collective is looking to bring independent art to AU, and planning a number of different events in hopes of inspiring students to create art and showcase it through non-traditional channels.
The collective was started three years ago as a way to provide AU students with the chance to display their visual art, film, music, singing and acting skills, and publicly present their work in order to gain recognition in the art world.
Carni Klirs, president of the collective, took control of the group after it fell apart over the summer of 2004. Upon returning to school last semester, Klirs reorganized the group, found new members and found a faculty adviser.
Due to a technicality, Klirs had to assume the position of Independent Arts Collective president in order for the collective to be considered a legitimate organization under AU Club Council rules. Klirs said he is president in name only; otherwise, the group is a collective of artists, all equal in status, who work together to expose AU students to independent forms of art and media.
“It’s important to empower students to create their own art and media by doing it themselves without going through mainstream channels,” Klirs said. “People are only exposed to the mainstream, and students need to be exposed to things outside of that.”
Last semester, the collective planned a field trip to a thrift store, bought T-shirts, and held a demonstration teaching students how to do their own screen-printing without paying to go through a large company. Klirs said that the T-shirt demonstration was an example of how the arts collective was able to teach students the necessary skills for creating their own art.
In order to keep the program going, students must get involved with the Independent Arts Collective and come up with their own ideas for possible events, shows or demonstrations.
“The important thing is to get the word out, so we can get people excited and have some fun events,” Klirs said.
In March or April, the collective is planning for a comic known as Reverend Billy to come to AU to perform his hit show, “Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop-Shopping.” The routine, which comes complete with a full gospel choir in the background, pokes fun at the zealousness of conservative and religious fundamentalists.
Klirs has seen Reverend Billy before and said he hopes that the show will be well received by the AU community. He said the Independent Arts Collective will probably work with other campus groups as co-sponsors to help defray the cost.
Fellow collective members Katie Diesinger and Zach Copeland are planning to hold a film festival near the end of the semester. Diesinger, the treasurer for the arts collective, has already started spreading the word among visual media majors via the Facebook, (http://www.thefacebook.com) an online social directory. As part of the Facebook group “Visual Media Majors Unite!” Diesinger has recruited people to take part in the festival and help with planning.
Diesinger said the film festival is important because it is a chance to get people’s work recognized. She said visual media majors must get at least one piece of work recognized by an official festival. By holding a festival at AU, she said the visual media majors can screen their work without having to worry about competition from other entries, as they would for other film festivals or screenings, while helping expose other AU students to independent films or documentaries. Organizers Diesinger and Copeland haven’t decided if they will enter their own work in the festival, but Diesinger said their main goal is to help other student artists.
“[The Independent Arts Collective] is an amazing concept ... and a great way of exposing new artists and helping them out.” Diesinger said. “And so many of us want to be those new artists, whether it be through music, film, painting, sculpture or drawing or photography, we want just to help out other students in our position because we know how it feels.”
Klirs said the collective also plans to hold shows featuring individuals or bands that aren’t typically considered mainstream. The shows, which will probably be held in the basement of Kay Spiritual Life Center, are meant to showcase new artists and give them a chance to perform for an audience, in order to gain both experience and exposure.
Klirs said the group wants to create a CD and a small magazine for distribution. The CD will feature up-and-coming musicians, and the magazine will contain a collection of poetry, essays, fiction and nonfiction stories, and drawings created by AU students. However, Klirs stresses that these compilations will be different from other projects by AmLit, AU’s student literary magazine, and the Student Union Board.
“The act of creating your own form of media and doing it outside the confines and restrictions of society is a political statement,” he said. “That’s why we have more in common with the Coalition for Community Action and Social Justice and other activist groups than we do with SUB or the literary magazine.”
Diesinger said she is looking forward to the film festival and the future of the club.
“I really hope that the IAC will grow,” she said. “If I have a say in it, it will.”
Eagle Staff Writer Megan Slack contributed to this article.