Beautiful and Purposeful: Scenes from Arts Fest at UNC Asheville

January 10, 2020

By Peyton Rodgers ‘20


UNC Asheville has embraced the beauty of art and its significance across campus with its bi-annual Arts Fest started in 2013, which recognizes and celebrates artists on campus for their unique ability to communicate fresh ideas and inspire others through creative and critical thinking.

Arts Fest is spearheaded by Laura Bond, professor of drama and interdisciplinary studies, with the idea of giving the participants a deeper knowledge of the arts that are spread across campus, allowing the opportunity for inspiration for your own creative work.

“I love the community building aspect of it,” said Anne Slatton, senior lecturer in mass communication and member of the Arts Fest committee. “It’s great when people turn up and share these experiences together. I think it really fosters community and it’s fun.”

Events hosted during Arts Fest 2019 on November 22 covered a wide variety of media, styles and performances, including shows by the Asheville Ballet and student musical ensembles, a drama department costume and prop exhibition, a film screening by mass communication students, glass work demonstrations, and more. Here are just a few scenes from throughout the day.

Connecting Art, Kids, and Science

The “Old Media” Animation Activity Table was a hands-on experience for anyone interested in learning about the art of animation and how it relates to STEM.

Mark Sidelnick, professor of education and K-12 art license program coordinator at UNC Asheville, gathered art supplies with the goal of educating the UNC Asheville student body and faculty on ways to incorporate art, science and math, turning STEM into STEAM.

Sidelnick created flip books by stapling two pieces of paper together and asked participants to draw an image on each piece of paper creating motion. The end result was to have a moving image, similar to a flip book.

“I teach physics with this and it’s a lesson for science as well. The more things you animate, the more data that the brain has to process so the more it accepts as reality,” said Sidelnick.

Sidelnick enjoys using this art to inspire the Junior Bulldogs, the middle school students that come explore UNC Asheville for their first experience on a college campus, to pursue subjects they may find intimidating.

“It’s the idea of interesting kids in science because science is one of the under-populated majors, especially to get females to go into science, so we make it fun,” Sidelnick said. “And, you don’t have to be an artist to do this, this is stick figure works. So, people say ‘I can’t draw, I can’t draw’ were doing science, so they don’t feel as intimidated.”

From Ballet to Belly Dance

Drawing was not the only form of art given a platform at Art Fest. Two unique dance styles were presented, starting with the Asheville Ballet’s performance of The Snow pas de deux from The Nutcracker. The Asheville Ballet’s Nutcracker has been a tradition in Asheville for nearly 50 years, and is directed by Ann Dunn, lecturer in humanities at UNC Asheville.

Next, the UNC Asheville Belly Dance Club took the stage and performed a unique cultural experience for the audience. The Belly Dance Club is the oldest club on campus with 20 years of educating UNC Asheville students the art of belly dancing.

They hope that the audience gained cultural knowledge and had a great experience while watching the performance.

“It never hurts to know more about something you don’t know about and eastern dance is not something that people typically know about,” said Mary Allen, environmental science senior at UNC Asheville.

Can’t wait for the next Arts Fest? Mark your calendar for Friday, April 24. For more information about Arts Fest at UNC Asheville, visit