KAM Fest kicks off student engagement, art initiatives

By Sidney Madden, Staff Writer

Krannert Art Museum education coordinators Aimee Schneider and Kamila Glowacki have been planning KAM Fest for months, figuring out the most effective ways to drive student engagement at the interactive art event. They looked to music festivals for inspiration.

KAM Fest will take place on Thursday from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Krannert Art Museum, located at 500 E. Peabody Drive in Champaign.

In addition to viewing new galleries and the student art pop-up, attendees will enjoy free Maize, listen to live performances by The Data Waves and JONT500, watch free screen printing demos by the Noble print club and go home with fresh pressed tote bags and T-shirts.

“I feel like we’re somewhat trying to mirror other music festivals, too,” Schneider said. “So that’s kind of where the name came from and why we included musical acts and local art, too.”

Schneider and Glowacki were intentional in every part of the planning process, curating a visitor experience that was welcoming to art enthusiasts and art novices alike. Their efforts seem to be working: The Facebook event has over 150 people going and over 800 more interested.

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“With KAM Fest, even though we planned it for students, we wanted to make sure it was open to anyone who wanted to come,” Glowacki said. “If you just live in the community and not associated with U of I at all, you can still come.”

Even the layout of the event has been intentionally designed to drive art viewership and student engagement. Music will play in the galleries, and food will be available in Espresso Royale. Attendees will find screen printing and the exhibition in the lower level of the museum.

Standard museum protocol will be in place. No food or drink will be allowed in the museum, though there will be water at Espresso Royale with Maize. No backpacks will be permitted either; however, a limited number of lockers will be available, and tote bags are allowed.

Photo courtesy of the Krannert Art Museum

Schneider spearheaded the student art pop-up, first selecting and then meeting with the 35 artists individually to display the diverse 75 pieces of print, sculpture, video and zines. The docket of students themselves is as diverse as their work, ranging from molecular and cellular biology majors to fourth-year veterinary students.

Sammy Al-Asmar, sophomore in FAA, is one of the artists featured. Inspired by his Palestinian heritage and prominent Palestinian figures Edward Said and Naji Al-Ali, Al-Asmar will have three works featured at the show: “Hitchhiker’s Guide to Palestine,” “5 or 6 Things on the Boil” and “Beggars in Buenos Aires.”

“Most of my works, I think they revolve around me being out of my natural habitat,” he said. “I carry that nationalism — I don’t know if nationalism is the best word to use — but there’s this feeling I’m out-of-place or that I’m super foreign.”

Lindsey Jennings, junior in FAA, is another artist featured. Jennings, who studies dance, is interested in the intersection of visual and performance art.

She embroiders different messages onto leaves with biodegradable thread, hoping people will stumble upon them. Her four works featured, each titled the day they were taken, were shot around the country and on campus: at the Japan House, New York City, Princeton University and Ohio University.

“I always try to leave one in places I’m traveling or passing through because I like how it is all over the place,” Jennings said.

Schneider and Glowacki hope to continue student engagement initiatives, like the student art pop-up, throughout the year with the new student membership program and the volunteer program.

The free student membership program sends students different opportunities happening at the museum, ranging from artist talks to poetry and yoga. The volunteer program is open to any student interested in helping the education department facilitate tours and field trips.

Attendees can find out more about the programs at the event, where museum staff will be offering more information and giving away pins to sign up.

As Schneider and Glowacki put the finishing touches on KAM Fest, they’re excited about student engagement at the museum this academic year.

“We want students to think of it as their museum and our role is really to provide opportunities for it to become their museum and something for them to contribute to as well in terms of exhibition or volunteering at the museum or just coming here for different events,” Glowacki said. “I just hope I see students more and not just at student events but other events, too. I’m really hoping this is a good introduction to the museum for a lot of people.”

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