On-campus art walk livens a Friday evening

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Students and community members perused student art displays while nibbling on Brie and grapes at the first Occidental art walk Friday. Tables touting the wares of student artists lined a blocked-off section of Bird Road in front of Haines and Weingart Halls, and acoustic music wafted from stages on the road.

Around eight or nine students displayed their work at the Programming Board-sponsored art walk, some as individuals, others in small groups or co-ops. The event featured a diverse selection of art — handmade jewelry, crocheted accessories, linocuts (a block print made from linoleum) and photography were all available for viewing.

“Oxy has so many great student artists and we felt like they weren’t really showcased that often,” Programming Board Manager Kylie Teller (junior) said.

Unlike many art walks hosted outside of the campus environment, students could not sell their art at the event itself. According to Teller, only licensed business owners can sell goods at a sponsored event on Occidental’s campus. Nonetheless, the art walk gave student artists a chance to promote their work, take pre-orders from potential buyers and share their online networks and shops.

Many of the students conceived their businesses at Occidental after discovering a mutual interest in a particular craft. A significant portion of the goods at the art walk represented many nights working together on dorm room floors.

One of the student artists, Lizz Wu (junior), is the co-founder of Sundog with Irene Lam* (junior). The duo makes handprinted T-shirts, jewelry and stickers, among other crafts.

“We saw that we both liked art and we got together and started just going to each other’s dorms and drawing on the floor together,” Wu said. “Eventually [Sundog] came out.”

Another art walk participant, Tatum Katz (junior), explained how she began making crocheted art last year. She is a co-founder of Commie Craft Corp along with juniors Hannah Blumenfeld and Grace Tang.

“I happened to bring some crocheting stuff from home when [Bloomingfeld, Tang and I] were neighbors in Haines last year,” Katz said. “People were wandering in and out of each other’s rooms and stealing yarn from each other and talking about crafting.”

Though the art walk was not a repeat of last year’s Handmade Oxy event — at which students and staff showcased and sold their art — it was created in a similar spirit. For Wu, Handmade Oxy inspired her to start Sundog.

According to Teller, the largest challenge Programming Board faced was figuring out how to go forward after learning that students would not be permitted to sell their art at the art walk.

“Handmade Oxy had some different regulations and some exceptions to the rule,” Teller said.

The student artists found ways to circumvent the rule against by promoting their online shops, and were pleased to have the foot traffic. Katz, for example, took pre-orders and directed buyers to Commie Craft Corp’s Etsy page. Most of the artists had business cards.

As the two-hour event progressed, more people passed through, enjoying the laid-back environment; small groups of students mingled and experienced their peers’ art.

“I think it’s really cool just to see other things that people do on campus besides just studying,” Clarasophia Gust (first year) said.

According to Teller, Programming Board’s goal when planning the event was to create a relaxed environment, complete with live music and refreshments.

“People like an event that you can walk into, stay at for even 10 or 15 minutes and leave,” Teller said.

As the night progressed, more attendees showed up to support their peers.

“i like that all of these artists are able to show what they’ve been working on in class too,” Chloe Wheeler (first-year) said. “I talked to some who do letter press and printmaking, and it’s really cool to see that displayed. It really exemplifies the liberal arts school.”

*Lam is a Weekly staff member