Students Exude Artistic Flair at Southside Festival

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Busy outlining a pair of outstretched hands chalked onto the sidewalk, sophomore Cassandra Funsten added traces of blue and purple-her hands already smudged with dark blotches of chalk.

Funsten was just one of many artists and performers who joined nearly 1,600 onlookers for the first-annual Fall Arts Fest, held at the Berkeley Art Museum on Saturday.

"The hands are offering color, like what art should do to your life. Art is to enrich your life," Funsten said.

Visitors to the museum were treated to a wide palette of activities composed of everything from painting to martial arts to a chalk art competition.

"Chalk art is really transient and impermanent. All of this will get washed away tomorrow," Funsten said. "This is one of the only kinds of performance arts you can do."

The festival featured a number of artists and performers including the a cappella groups California Golden Overtones and the UC Men's Octet, dance troupes Danceworx and The Movement, and a poetry slam.

The museum, located near campus on Southside, also opened its back terrace for more than a dozen student artists to exhibit work.

"That one with the chain fence-I wish I could have that much passion to paint something like that," said freshman Lindsay Harabedian while admiring Nana Hayashi's "Human Nature," a painting of women in maroons and turquoise blues on an irregularly shaped canvas.

The Fall Arts Fest was part of an ongoing effort by the museum and the Pacific Film Archive to foster stronger relations among student artists and the museum.

"We're beginning to incorporate student art and to use the museum as a venue to share poetry, literature, music and art with the community," said David Nabti, chair of the Berkeley Art Museum student committee.

The festival was a chance for students to enter the often elite and exclusive world of art exhibitions, he added, noting that student artists especially often have little access to professional exhibitions.

"The Berkeley Art Museum can be very particular about what it displays," said junior Jocelyn Voo. "This (event) gives students exposure and brings people together."

Senior Cheryl Martinez exhibited her creation, "Death March," at the festival.

The piece brought together four tiny plastic figures, walking upon a photo collage of senior citizens, with an outdated computer.

The screen of the computer read, "Their stick and stone bodies promise nothing for our digital future. Forgetful brains will be forgotten."

"We're frustrated with the digital age, its repercussions and its quick, easy solutions to postmodern life," Martinez explained.

Out on the sidewalk, freshmen Ian Cheng and Hao Li drew two bikini-clad women consuming grapes, an image copied from an issue of Maxim magazine. Between the two prone women stood a frazzled boy with glasses.

"We thought it would be ironic-the juxtaposition between drastically different looking people," Cheng said.

Student artists appeared satisfied to have their work exhibited by the museum, although their art was displayed outside the building.

"But we like this space here. This better reflects our reality, and it's also a way to sit in the museum for a day," Martinez said.

The museum will continue to extend opportunities to student artists, Nabti said.

Starting this year, the museum's cafe will showcase student art and will feature weekly performances by student poets and musicians, he added.


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