Hatch Art Festival’s third year enhances in quality

Luanne Freed’s “The Year 3000” wall piece will be featured in the Hatch Festival Exhibition at the Indi Go Artist Co-Op, opening Saturday.

By Sarah Soenke

Champaign-Urbana’s micro-urban community draws noteworthy festivals year-round, but the Hatch Art Festival may be one of the most niche-oriented attractions. 

Starting Thursday, the third-annual festival will bring two weeks of workshops, entertainment, fairs and exhibitions geared toward the creative reuse and recycling of materials for artistic creations. In addition to its pillar art exhibition, trashion show and art fair, this year’s festival will feature artists-in-residence, Roberta and David Williamson, jewelers from Ohio. Events vary in cost over the two weeks, but many are free or take suggested donations at admission. Across all age levels and artistic talents, the festival aims to offer an event for everyone within the community interested in new forms of art. 

The Daily Illini was able to speak with Melissa Mitchell, one of the festival co-chairs, on a few changes to this year’s festival and why Hatch stands out among all other art festivals. 

The Daily Illini: What changes can interested attendees look out for in this year’s festival? 

Melissa Mitchell: Last year was the first year we did a trashion show at Lincoln Square, and that was kind of driven by the fact that the visiting artist is one of the best known trashion designers in the country. … It was a contest competition — there were awards given — and this year, the committee decided to just make it for fun without the competitive angle. We’re hoping that helps to bring in more people of all age levels and abilities — and it has. There are more people involved this year, including a bunch of school children. 

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

While we maybe didn’t grow the numbers so much from last year to this year for the art exhibition and art fair, we have around the same number, I think we’re bringing in even higher quality because people are starting to find out about this all over the place. This year we have artists from eight different states participating, and that has grown from last year; we might have had four (different states). 

DI: Why does the festival choose to feature artwork and workshops centered around creative reuse and recycling? 

MM: It’s just great fun to be able to take some of these materials and, speaking as myself as an artist who works in this kind of area, it’s just amazing the types of things you can do out of stuff that would otherwise be thrown out or wind up in a landfill. There is the educational side of that, which is really just to increase awareness about things every time you throw things out or even recycle. … We’re realistic about it; we know you’re not going to save society from all of this waste and some of these things are going to eventually get thrown away, but at least we’re able to give it another lifetime or two.  

DI: What are the new education-focused events at this year’s festival? 

MM: In the past, when we brought in our visiting artists, we’ve had a hands-on workshop, but it’s always been open to other community members too. … But this year our visiting artists are doing a more advanced jewelry workshop for people with some jewelry making experience, including (University) students in the metals and jewelry program. Since it was a little more advanced, we thought it would be fun to do something a little different that was open only to area art teachers. We also wanted to make it more fun, so we asked a couple of the art teachers on our committee, “What would it take to get art teachers on their Saturday morning to come in to do something like that with an education component?” And one of the teachers said mimosas! So that’s why we’re kind of spooling it as not your grandmother’s coffee class — we’re going to have coffee and pastries — but the teachers can have mimosas too and just have a chance to connect with each other. 

DI: How was this year’s artists-in-residence, David and Roberta Williamson, chosen? 

MM: Normally, what we have done in the past is just I’ll sit down and just Google and just find interesting artists who make things out of other things. We also, through our Facebook page, ask, “Do you know of any artists that you think would be a good fit for Hatch?” … The committee looked at probably a half dozen to 10 individuals and just narrowed it down and decided on them for our first candidate and they accepted our offers. We’re thrilled to be able to bring them here. 

DI: When did you first become involved with the Hatch Art Festival? 

MM: I first got involved in this three years ago … because I had been a core volunteer at The I.D.E.A. Store; I was their communications coordinator volunteer. Gail Rost asked me to get involved, and we had been talking in our core volunteer group about having something like this here in Champaign. At that time, we were mostly just talking about having an art fair. We didn’t have anything this ambitious in mind when we started.

DI: What are you personally looking forward to the most this year?

MM: I love the art fair because we bring in artists from all throughout Illinois and several states. I’m kind of a junk junkie myself, so I travel to a lot of these art fairs and exhibitions all around the country. … It’s nice that we have price points that are all over the map so there’s things that students can afford for $5 to $10 and all the way up to higher end collectors. Some of the pieces can cost $200. 

I don’t know if everyone in this community that hears about this has any idea how rare this is to bring in such a comprehensive event that has lectures and music and an art exhibition and art fair and trashion show and all these things in one place in a community of our size. 

[email protected]