It all started over a game of pool in the Cyber Lounge. Abby Rivoir ’20 was frustrated about the lack of platforms available on campus for sharing her art. Rivoir said to a friend, “Why don’t we just start it?” She is now leading the push for a promotion and inclusion of the arts at the University. As the University undergoes construction for the new performing arts center, it only seems fitting that students’ art and talents should be showcased on campus.
Rivoir, along with her team, have founded Vision, which she states is “an all-encompassing campus arts festival.” Her goal is to provide artists on campus with a platform and receptive audience to understand that their art at whatever level or skill is something to be proud of. Vision will be a place for students to show their work, in whatever capacity or form that may be. Rivoir recognizes that there are established clubs and organizations on campus such as a photography club and art club, however, there are not a myriad of options for students to experiment with different mediums or engage in discourses about their art. “I thought that it would be a good idea to put everything in one place,” Rivor said.
Outside of the University, a culture shift is evident through the methods in which the generations express and represent themselves. Rivoir attests to the feeling of a shift on campus which she has seen with a growing interest in art. However, there is a disconnect between the growing interest and a source of information. She references artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, a Haitian-American artist popular in the late 1970s, as someone who has recently been repopularized in growing trends around the country but who people rarely can identify.
Consumers of pop culture emblazon themselves with clothing bearing Basquiat’s iconic drawings, yet so few can actually name the work of art or are even aware that what they are wearing was a famous piece of artwork at one point in time.
“Kids are interested in learning about [art] and it is a big cultural phenomenon,” Rivoir said, but she is aware that there is a lack of knowledge behind the growing movement. Rivoir hopes that her festival on campus will be able to inspire students to learn more about art and feel comfortable producing their own artwork. Vision will be a platform while also emphasizing awareness.
“I want the artists to feel that they have a responsive audience and, in turn, Villanova’s community will be able to see individual and experimental work. It’s not just about saying, ‘Oh, he’s good at pottery and he can make a cool pot.’ Kids have ideas and that is what modern art is all about,” Rivoir said. Vision will attempt to emphasize the fact that anybody can make art and manifest individual creative expression in countless ways.
The team behind Vision is comprised of juniors Abby Rivoir, Carolyn Shanks, Grayson Kisker, Jacob van Cleef and seniors Liz Wetjen and Aidan Brummel. The team has been recruiting artists from the University as well as artists, performers, speakers and musicians from Philadelphia and the neighboring communities.
The festival will take place on April 6 in the lower level of the Connelly Center from 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Vision will be a curatorial experience with an art exhibit showcasing all forms of artwork but will also be accompanied by live artistic demonstrations, performance art pieces, music from individuals and groups both from the University and not.
Rivoir’s goal with Vision is to take away the stigma that surrounds art in today’s society. She believes that many shy away from the arts due to its elitism and it being out of many individuals’ realms of comfort. Vision will showcase all of the students at the University that produce art or music and are passionate about things that have not had a place in the community until now. Rivoir wants the artists involved in Vision to understand that their art is worth something.