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Saturday, August 8, 2020

Local art communities come together

By Anelyse Morris

On a calm evening in Red Square, a faint beat echoes, intensifying with every step.

The Fine Arts Gallery door opens to an explosion of music, color and excited chatter, the room lined wall-to-wall with people and works of art. On each wall, one consistent message appears: “Why Do You Create?”

Western and Bellingham’s art communities came together on Thursday, Nov. 29, for the “Why Do You Create?” event at the B gallery.

The event kicked off with a student-led fashion show and featured the works of local and student artists, ranging from whiteboard paintings in one corner to freshly baked cookies in another, with live music playing throughout.

“I think it’s a really creative way to bring artists together,” third-year Anna Smith said. “It feels like a really community-based space.”

According to second-year Wilson Kasinga, creative director of the project, it was orchestrated by students minoring in entrepreneurship, with the intention to provide a platform for creative connections among the local art community.

Kasinga, along with the five other members of his team, started planning the event a month ago after he pitched the idea to his entrepreneurship class as a concept for their second venture project.

Tasked with solving a community problem, Kasinga viewed the venture project as a perfect opportunity to make up for a lack of facilitative spaces for creative people in Bellingham.

Rebel Whiteboard Art was included in the event and even created white board art live. // Photo courtesy of Rachel Joy

“I thought it would be cool because there is kind of a rare, real artistic culture out here,” Kasinga said.“People are very creative but there’s not a lot of platforms for people to connect with other creators.”

The group met several times per week to plan, and while it was a group project, each member of the team had a different role in making their vision come to life.

Project Manager Riggs Mischke said he originally wanted to create a clothing brand, but the idea grew into staging a fashion show while planning the event. He said he was excited to see how it unfolded, because it was the first of its kind on campus.

“It’s going to be really cool to see how all of this build up comes together,” he said before the opening. “We’ve generated a lot of buzz on campus and social media about it.”

The event’s Instagram page, @whydoyoucreate?, accumulated more than 1,200 profile visits and 428 followers in the three weeks prior to it, according to Mischke.

What started out as a class project became a large campus gathering in a few short weeks, a delightful surprise for the six students who planned it, Kasinga said.

Social Media Coordinator and Artist Curator Austin Patten Bustos spent most of the night DJ’ing.

“We were super impressed by the turnout,” Bustos said. “We hope that we can keep doing events like this in the future for WWU.”

Maximilian D’Angeloo performs in front of a wall of art, creating a multi-media experience. // Photo courtesy of Rachel Joy

Joslyn Presley, a painter and Western student, got involved through the art department when she saw an opportunity for an interactive display at the event. She said she was happy she chose to get involved because it ended up being a great opportunity to make connections.

“I think it’s awesome,” she said. “It’s a great way for me to talk to people and show off my work, otherwise it just sits in my house.”

“It’s so cool to see a bunch of creative people in one space that may have not connected otherwise,” Kasinga said. “We just wanted to provide a platform for those connections to happen.”

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