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New Faces New Spaces: Kaleidoscope is Back!

Kaleidoscope is returning to JSU! We will celebrate the arts during the month of April with numerous exhibits, performances, readings, and more. The campus community and public are invited to these events, most of which are free. A detailed listing is available on the Kaleidoscope website and, as a special promotion for this revival of Kaleidoscope, participants may collect event stamps in a passport and compete for prizes.

History of Kaleidoscope

Introduced as the Festival of the Arts in 1995, the annual event was borne out of then Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. David Watts’ experience at a university at which he had previously taught. From March 12 – March 19, 1995, performances and visits from the Fort McClellan 14th Army Band, Anniston Chorale and Band, JSU professors, and other Southern artists and writers helped showcase the university’s talent and that of its surrounding community. The first annual Kaleidoscope festival also brought On the Brink: A Conference on Emerging Southern Writers to JSU; authors and columnists from Louisiana, Georgia, and Birmingham were present at the event organized by Dr. Steven Whitton, for the Center for Southern Studies.

The 1996 Kaleidoscope Festival of the Arts expanded into two weeks, with the attendance rate tripling since the initial year. The 1996 Mimosa credited the growth to an increase in advertising in Jacksonville, Glencoe, and Anniston with posters, brochures, billboards, and promotions in local newspapers and on television. The following year’s festival grew to three weeks, beginning on February 28 and ending on March 19. Funding came from Calhoun County businesses like the Oxford Arts Council, Theatre Angels, and Southcentral Oxford during that year, helping with further growth of the festival and events like On the Brink and the Alabama Clay Conference Invitational exhibit. By the eighth annual Kaleidoscope Festival of the Arts (2002), the events had become prominent in the region. Kaleidoscope events were so welcoming and prominent that the community and artists in the region looked forward to the annual celebration. Gena Christopher, a former On the Brink committee member and JSU English faculty member, had said that writers and their publishers had requested invites to the 2008 conference.

The last Kaleidoscope at JSU took place during 2016. In the years prior, the festival became slightly intermittent and spread across the months of the Spring semester with less advertisement from publications like The Anniston Star and The Chanticleer. Kaleidoscope remains known as a festival that brought all artforms to the community and its surrounding area, though.

 Kaleidoscope 2022

To celebrate the arts and a return to live, in-person events, JSU’s College of Arts and Humanities is re-launching Kaleidoscope. “We are excited to welcome the public back to all of the amazing arts events hosted by JSU,” said Dr. Staci Stone, Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities. “In addition to featuring our talented, dedicated students, Kaleidoscope brings several visiting artists to campus. We hope students, faculty, staff, and community members in our region take advantage of the arts programming happening during April.”

Visiting artists featured during Kaleidoscope include a visual artist, a poet, and a singer. A special live, interactive collage piece will be created by David Marcet on April 21 from 10:00am until 4:00 pm on the JSU Quad near Hammond Hall. Marcet is a figurative artist from Chicago, IL, where he is a professor of art at Benedictine University. The Foothills Piano Festival on April 9 will feature Stina Ohman, a Swedish singer who will present a recital with JSU Professor of Music Wendy Freeland. The campus will also welcome poet Elijah Rushing Hayes for a reading on April 20 as part of the Write, Southerners! Reading Series.

Kaleidoscope Kick-off and Finale Events

This year’s festival will begin and end with our student artists. Kaleidoscope 2022 will open with the 49th Annual Juried Student Show, which displays works created by students in the last academic year; Barbara Lane Thara and Stephanie Alaniz were the jurors. The opening reception is on Thursday, March 31, from 5 – 7 PM in the Hammond Hall Gallery. Student work will also be featured in the BFA Spring 2022 Senior Show “Welcome to the Circus,” which highlights capstone projects for seniors graduating with their Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. The opening reception will be on April 21 from 5 – 7 PM.

Another exciting, new event featuring talented students is JSU’s inaugural BIPOC Music Competition, hosted by the Department of Music. The free event will take place on April 24 at 7:30 PM in the Mason Hall Auditorium, as the vocal and instrumental student musicians perform pieces arranged and composed by BIPOC artists. Cash prizes will be awarded to first and second place, as well as two honorable mention performers.

The final event for Kaleidoscope 2022 is the inaugural JSU Student Film Festival sponsored by the Department of Theatre and Film. On April 22, filmic works created by students inside and outside of class will be celebrated. The festival will take place in the Ernest Stone Performing Arts Center theatre and admission is $5.00. The showing will begin at 7:30 PM.

Kaleidoscope Passport Program

As part of the re-launch of Kaleidoscope, the passport program will award prizes to audience members who attend several events. The Kaleidoscope passport will help participants document their arts adventures. Passports are available at Kaleidoscope events and provide a place for documentation of attendance. Participants who attend events should have their passport stamped, and those with at least five stamps from two types of events (from music, art, theatre, film, creative writing) may be entered into a drawing for prizes. More information is available on the Kaleidoscope website. Prizes include free tickets to the Friends of the Visual Arts art auction, gift cards, and more. The auction tickets will be given on April 20 (Art Auction is on April 23.), and the other drawings will occur during the JSU Student Film Festival, the culminating Kaleidoscope event. Please join us in celebrating the arts!

article by Alexzandria Quintero



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