A chaos of brazen autumn colors like vibrant, falling leaves, streamed into the Berry Performing Arts Center as students, faculty and families gathered to celebrate artistic talent.
Dressed in outfits reminiscent of flea market clothing racks, students embraced the Wes Anderson aesthetic along with the film director’s soundtrack and dry humor.
“Wes Anderson did not learn to speak until age 19 and his first word was flannel,” senior Mariah Makil said, listing off fun facts while co-hosts Fletcher Lowe and Nathan Scheiffer led the audience in singing a Wes Anderson jingle.
The 2018 Arties, presented by the Visual Arts Foundry (VAF) on March 9, promoted the assortment of student majors and talents that bring an eccentric flair to the campus arts culture.
Originally under the direction of the Communication and Art Student Association (COAST), the Arties started as a way to recognize John Brown University’s art department 11 years ago. Now, the Visual Arts Foundry, the successor of COAST, includes students from a variety of academic disciplines.
“It made sense that since we have this great division, Communication and Fine Arts, that we should include everybody in the mix. So, that’s why we have journalism, and drama and musical and art department awards all being represented tonight,” Steven Snediker, the event’s faculty host and assistant professor of visual arts and cinema, said.
Snediker then went on to describe the selection process for awarding students. “The faculty members from the particular departments actually select the students that they feel are the best in those categories and put forward their nominations. It’s the student’s responsibility then to provide some sort of a portfolio or reel or some indication of their involvement over the last year in the work that they’re being nominated for,” Snediker said. “Ultimately, those reels or portfolios are reviewed by an outside party or parties… The best is selected and we then award that person the Artie for that particular category.”
Chris Swilley, senior communication major, was awarded Broadcaster of the Year. Believing that communication should be included in the arts, Swilley said, “We work really hard to do all kinds of things, and that’s why we should be involved. What we do at the newspaper or basketball games or campus news or drama … shouldn’t go unrecognized because we do really good work for campus, for everyone to enjoy.”
After changing his major to communication his junior year, Chris Swilley worked on a film package for the 2017 Arties. “My mom was there and she asked me if I ever thought I was going to get one. I was like ‘Nah, there’s no way.’ I worked really hard, got involved in and found something that I really liked. It just kind of blossomed from there,” Swilley said.
Nominated alongside her older sister for best performance by an actress in a drama production, Olivia Waldron, sophomore international business major, said, “It was so much fun to be up against each other. Throughout the whole year, we’ve been supporting each other. I was a part of the production for her play and she attended every performance of mine…honestly, we’re just so happy that we’re able to be doing this together.”
Fletcher Lowe, junior management major, was shocked when he was awarded Best Performance by an Actor in a Drama Production. “It was exciting. I was not really expecting it because normally they just give the Artie to whoever the main actor is. I was like ‘Ok cool.’ It was really awesome that people liked what they saw,” Lowe said.
As the Visual Arts Foundry co-president for 2018-2019 school year, Brooke Bowlin believes the Arties highlights an important aspect of JBU’s artistic culture in all areas. “Art in general is very important to culture. It’s a culture-maker, and it also comments on culture,” Bowlin said. “Having a promotion of the visual artists who are themselves are into art, and also theater and communication is important for building culture and supporting artists.”