Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Community is what Community High Does

by Celine Anderson

A group of teachers at Community High School founded the Marginal Arts Festival to develop a place for art and the avant-garde in Roanoke. For the past six years, the festival has attracted artists of all different types (local and international) to create an inclusive and intellectually stimulating festival that encourages everyone to be a participant and invites them to explore the art opportunities around them.

Marginal Arts Festival’s goal of creating artistic opportunities also reflects the curriculum emphasis at Community High School. This year, I am doing an internship with the festival. This internship involves note taking at committee meetings, running the Marginal Arts blog, observing curatorial projects, and leading the Marginal Arts Festival Student Committee.

The festival provides Community High School students with opportunities that nearly all of my peers take advantage of. Last year students did everything from performing with the Community High School band at the Absurdist Street Carnival [event] to attending a master class offered by Todd Ristau and Samantha Macher. The MAF Student Committee is a school club that meets once a week to brainstorm ideas for the festival and discuss the upcoming events.

Vice-president of the Committee and high school junior, Swade Best, is currently leading the committee in its final goal of hosting an event for the festival. Best is not the only Community High School student producing a festival event of their own. Frank Finch is initiating and curating an exhibit involving seven hats selected from an open call in the window’s La-De-Da Clothing Boutique in downtown Roanoke. The hats will each represent one of the nine circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno: Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud and Treachery. The hats will also be featured in the Marginal Arts Festival Parade on Saturday March 30.

Visiting international performance artists, such as the performance duo, Zierle and Carter, and Rebecca Weeks (who travelled from England specifically for this festival last year) have come in to Community High School courses for question and answer sessions and presentations. This opportunity to connect with artists in a classroom environment was one of the things that inspired student enthusiasm for the festival. Last year, my classmates and I, under the mentorship of Rebecca Weeks from Cornwall, did several performance art pieces around downtown Roanoke. My group’s piece involved handing out blank sheets of paper to passersby and asking them to come to a “very important event” that was apparently and invisibly being advertised on the paper. This year’s Marginal Arts Festival will include a whole week of artist-lead workshops, lectures and master-classes in preparation for the three-day festival. I will be leading on the role of the audience in performance art.

I believe I speak for all of the students at Community High School when I say that the Marginal Arts Festival is a wonderful opportunity for us and the citizens of Roanoke to see and participate in art that challenges us intellectually and lets us sample the wider world.

This article was originally published in the March 2013 issue of VIA Noke Magazine.

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