First ever Fresno State Blended Arts Festival comes to campus

~ By Kaitlin C. Meier, student writer for the College of Arts and Humanities

For the first time, Fresno State will bring together arts of various platforms in a collaborative festival on campus. The goal is to bring together students and artists from around the valley, providing the chance to develop and share their work with the community.

The Fresno State Blended Arts Festival, a collaborative arts event, will feature a free guest speaker series from 2-4 p.m. followed by an evening concert at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16, located at the Fresno State Concert Hall.

“Participants will blend together music, art, lighting and sound design, video production, poetry, creative writing and voice acting to create a number of finished projects,” according to the festival’s website.

The first guest speaker, Fresno State Theatre Department faculty member Liz Waldmanprofessor of lighting and sound design, will open the event at 2 p.m. speaking in a master class titled: “Women in Arts: Focusing on an Independent Career Path.”

“This event shows the cross-disciplinary nature of what we all do in the arts and, hopefully, demonstrates how the different forms overlap and work in collaboration in the professional world,” Waldman said.

Following Waldman, the next featured artist of the Master Class Series will be Max Debbas, entrepreneur and multimedia specialist, in “Create in your Workspace: Finding Art in Work and Life.”

Wrapping up the free series will be hip-hop and spoken word poet Ruslan speaking on “Creative Process and Entrepreneurship.” Following the master class guest speakers, Ruslan will perform with fellow hip-hop artist Jon Keith during the evening concert. See this link to hear some of Ruslan’s work.

The evening concert will also include a performance from local Christian rap artist PQ and be accompanied by a student showcase beginning with a live audiobook collaboration project that features the short story “World Cry” by creative writer Tara Williams.  

Williams, who is a teaching associate with the Creative Writing Program, expressed how thrilled and honored she is to have her work be part of the event.

“I can’t wait to hear and see it on [Feb. 16] with the theatrical lighting and music. Each creative imagination involved adds a new layer to the aesthetic, taking the words off the page and into three-dimensional space,” Williams said.

The collaborative aspect of the project was a key factor that inspired her to become involved:

“Collaboration enriches all of us and opens so many creative possibilities,” Williams said. “I think when artists come together and create together it keeps us going, keeps us inspired, keeps us surprising each other and trying out new forms and new ideas.”

John Spankowski, a music student involved in the collaborative project and vice president of the Fresno State Composer’s Guild, shared the same enthusiasm for the collaboration of arts:

“I feel as though this festival is the invitation for collaboration we need to kick-start a new era of collaborative productions on campus,” Spankowski said. “Together, we can create new art that attests to the true spirit of human creativity and collaboration. It’s going to be a great show, and I am thrilled to be a part of it!”

Spankowski, along with other students, helped to compose a musical score for the live audiobook collaboration project. The score is the backdrop for the presentation of Williams’ short story during its live reading.

Lastly, the event will close with a performance from the Fresno State Jazztet, an ensemble of Jazz majors.

The festival consists of various student involvement in lighting design and composition of the audiobook reading, musical performances, as well as with the art gallery, website and social media for the event.

This collaboration brings together various departments under the College of Arts and Humanities including; the MFA Program in Creative Writing and the Theatre Arts and Music Departments, all working alongside other artists from around the Central Valley.

For a lineup of the festival events, click here.

Evening concert tickets are available for $6 at the door. For more information concerning the event contact Jose M. ElaGarza:

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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