Youth Theatre Festival encourages creativity

Friday, the community’s youth showed why art remains worthy of celebration at the 29th Annual Youth Theatre Festival. The festival revolved around the theme “I can do that,” a reoccurring notion in the festival’s history. Seeing others their age sing, dance or play the guitar encourages children to believe in themselves and think “I can do that, too.”

The first half of the festival featured performances by the young artists. The Kuumba Watoto and Knoxville Children’s Theatre (KCT) gave special performances. KCT demonstrated three types of dance performances: ballet, “Reflection of God” and jazz.

“We make sure to focus on youth performers and young people performing for young people because it makes a difference,” Jonathan Clark, executive support manager of The Carpetbag Theatre, said.

In 1989, the founders of Carpetbag, a local ensemble company devoted to original works, partnered with the Kuumba Festival to create the Youth Theatre Festival. The festival helped the community’s youth gain accessibility to the arts without worry about the cost.

The festival offered workshops for children from age 5 to 18. Some of the workshops included a hip hop dance class, painting and hip hop writing.

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The festival shows children that different opportunities exist in the world beyond  traditional occupations like medicine or law. Carpetbag wants them to understand their artistry and to sustain a viable and professional career within the theatre.

Kisha Rockette, the event coordinator of the Youth Theatre Festival, said, “We have to let our youth understand that they can survive with being an artist. It is important to tap into the youth so that they don’t feel as if there is no hope or that their dreams are lost.”

Both Clark and Rockette believe that arts programs have improved through the years, but Clark has not seen many art activities inside schools.

“The upcoming STEM academy is cool, but the arts get left out a lot, and that is usually the first place to get funding cut or redistributed,” Clark said.

Children can, however, find arts education through Carpetbag initiatives. Carpetbag received a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund fall and spring break youth camps. Children in the camp will receive a stipend for joining and participating. Participants will also have a chance to help with the production of Carpetbag’s upcoming play, “Ce Nitram Sacul,” in September.


Images by Sage Davis

Edited by Lexie Little




Student talent, art reveals passions

UPerk, the coffee shop located at the UKirk House, showcased a wide range of student artwork April 24. As students toured the full room, UT student Alayna Cameron took the stage with a ukulele in hand.

Cameron’s setlist included a personal touch. She played songs of Tennessee natives as attendees toured the gallery.


Students Caleb Pittenger, Caroline Rowcliffe, Maggie Stroud and Emma Vieser presented some of their favorite pieces as Cameron played. Their artwork represented different mediums – from wood to photography.

At the end of the evening, some of the artists walked away with fewer pieces than they brought, selling several pieces of art. Maggie Stroud, one of the contributing artists, elaborated on one of her favorite works.

“This was just a simple line drawing I did, but it’s very much based on my hometown of San Antonio, Texas and the aesthetic that is so unique to Tejano culture,” Stroud said. “In the springtime, we celebrate Fiesta, and everywhere you look there are dancers with ‘halo’ flower crowns and traditional Mexican dresses. It’s so gorgeous and it reminds me of home.”

Stroud is not new to the art scene. Although she majors in English Literature, art has always had a place in her heart. Her upbringing keeps her interested in creating.

“I’ve always been drawing obsessively. My family is very creative, and my mom is an artist herself, so I grew up watching her,” she said. “But, I think more than anything, it was my love of stories. Illustration is just visual storytelling, and even before I could read, that was something I understood.”

Caleb Pittenger told his stories through spoken word. He recited poetry recently featured in UT’s Phoenix magazine.


Through different creative mediums, students displayed their passions and character.


Written by Lauren Claxton

Photos by Lauren Claxton


Opinion: Clarence Brown Theatre helps students, Knoxville residents get in the holiday spirit

The winter season is upon us. Weather is getting cooler, lights are going up all over town and finals are just around the corner. To help get everyone into the holiday spirit, the Clarence Brown Theatre is producing their annual rendition of “A Christmas Carol.”

“A Christmas Carol” is an age-old holiday story following Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas Eve to change his life. While there are many versions of “A Christmas Carol,” such as the Mickey Mouse version from the 1980s, the Clarence Brown production stays very close to the classic story line of the show.

Jed Diamond, professor in the theater department of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, returned this year as the role of Ebenezer Scrooge, with a performance to wow any audience. The rest of the cast also helped to create an astounding performance. This show features many children playing young roles, and each of them were “real” and mature actors when on the stage. “A Christmas Carol” features a truly amazing cast this season.

The crew for “A Christmas Carol” blew away the audience with its elaborate set for this year’s show. Every scene featured intricate sound and lighting effects and unbelievably realistic set pieces. One recurring feature that I really enjoyed was the use of a trap door in the stage. In just a few seconds, a bed could arise from or descend into the stage.

At one point in the show, the ghost Marley, Scrooge’s late lifetime work partner, made his entrance by coming up from the floorboards of the stage, and his exit by descending back into the stage. The added fog effects made it really feel like a ghost was entering the theatre that night.

If you get the chance, make your way to the Clarence Brown Theatre sometime before this show closes. The Clarence Brown is conveniently located on campus, in between the music building and the Humanities and Social Sciences building. Shows are just $5 for UTK students to see. “A Christmas Carol” runs from now until Dec. 17.


Featured Image courtesy of Creative Commons

Edited by Vanessa Rodriguez

Opinion: ‘Loving Vincent’ Offers New Outlook on Famous Painter

Vincent van Gogh made a name for himself as one of the world’s best painters in history– but only after he had died.

“Loving Vincent” is the world’s first ever feature film to be completely animated in oil paints. A team of over 100 artists worked together over the course of several years to create the film, with over 65,000 oil-painted frames, according to Loving Vincent‘s website.

While most people would think that a movie about Vincent van Gogh would be about his life, “Loving Vincent” highlights the events that occurred the year following the painter’s death. Armand Roulin, the son of van Gogh’s postman, serves as the protagonist in the film, with his original goal to deliver a letter to Theo van Gogh, Vincent’s brother.

In the process of searching out Theo, Armand learns that the late painter’s brother passed away half a year after Vincent. This leads Armand on a journey to find out who exactly van Gogh was, and the story is different with every person he speaks to.

“Loving Vincent” offers insight to the life, death and theories of Vincent van Gogh. Was he suicidal? Or was he murdered by one of the many people who decided to torment him throughout his lifetime? While the film does not cover how Vincent actually died, since the public still does not know exactly, it illustrates his relationships with individuals leading up to his untimely passing.

“Loving Vincent” takes the style of and references several of van Gogh’s famous paintings, which makes the experience truly unique. There is some intermingling of pieces, such as when the postman, Joseph Roulin, a common subject for van Gogh, is set with his son in the “Cafe Terrace at Night” painting. The film also utilizes one of van Gogh’s self portraits as its tag image and for the film poster.

Overall, “Loving Vincent” is a fresh perspective of the life, relationships and works of Vincent van Gogh. As an avid fan of the late painter, I was incredibly pleased with this film. It felt genuine and like it came from a place of respect from the director, actors and all of the artists involved. “Loving Vincent” takes some of the world’s most renowned paintings and transforms each piece into living, breathing works of absolute art.


Edited by Vanessa Rodriguez 

Featured image Van Gogh Museum, courtesy of Creative Commons

Market Square gets splash of color from ninth annual Chalk Walk

Thousands gathered in Market Square and Krutch Park on Saturday, April 1 to witness various chalk murals for the ninth annual Dogwood Arts Chalk Walk.

The chalk artists ranged from families and adults to children and high school art classes.

Every mural had an image1inspiration behind it. “It was a combination of mine and my children’s favorite things because they wanted to participate this year, too. Butterflies are my favorite. My daughter wanted a rainbow and my son wanted the Smoky Mountains, so we just combined all those together,” Amber Willis said.

Artist Fawne DeRosia decided to go with somebody who people would instantly recognize in East Tennessee.

“Honestly, I did a little digging on who is famous around Knoxville, because I knew I was coming here and Dolly was the first person who popped up, so I was like she’s awesome, let’s do a portrait of her,” DeRosia said.

Connie Passarella, one of the over 25,000 attendees, was amazed at the level of talent of the artists.image2

“It’s really interesting because I’ve never seen anything like it. I have seen it in books before and I wanted to do it at home, so I always like to take back ideas like this,” Passarella said.

Founder Kathy Slocum discusses the reasoning behind the use of chalk for the festival.

“The chalk is used because it’s water soluble and we don’t have to worry about it lasting forever, good and bad. Monday it’s going to rain and this will all be gone,” Slocum said. “But that’s part of the intrigue of this art, is that it’s not permanent. It’s here today and gone tomorrow.”

Artists began their pieces at 8:30 a.m. and had to be finished by 4:30 p.m. Attendees could vote for their favorite piece and the awards were given later in the afternoon.

For the list of winners for this year’s Chalk Walk, check out their website.

Feature Image by Vanessa Rodriguez

Edited by Katy Hill

Dr. Monique Wells visits Knoxville, brings attention to painter Beauford Delaney

With her constant strive to bring more attention to American modernist painter Beauford Delaney, Dr. Monique Wells visited the painter’s birthplace Thursday, Oct. 20 during an event called From Paris to Knoxville, hosted at the Knoxville Museum of Art.

From Paris to Knoxville was a gathering to learn more about Beauford Delaney all while viewing some of the artwork within the Museum of Art. The museum currently harbors art pieces such as a pastel portrait of Delaney’s wife and numerous other pieces owned by the Delaney estate.

After the welcoming of visitors, the event led into an auditorium where the likes of Renee Kesler, President of the Black Cultural Exchange Center, and Dr. Monique Wells, herself, spoke before the 7 p.m. reception.

Information was given out about Delaney, including why Wells began her quest to enlighten the public on this artist. After finding out that the artist had an unmarked grave, she began a fund to help secure a gravestone.

During that time, she found a great interest in the artist himself and his story. Since then, she has been adamant about spreading knowledge about Delaney. The eventual laying of the gravestone featured a reception hosted by the US Embassy.

The event was just a bullet point on her exploration through Knoxville, as the Paris, France citizen was curious to find all the sights and sounds East Tennessee holds. From meeting the attorney that represents the Delaney estate to eventually gaining access to Beauford Delaney’s archives, Wells had a busy visit.

I saw countless photos, several paintings and works on paper, and a mere fraction of the documents that cast light upon the minute details of Beauford’s life. There wasn’t nearly enough time to go through the entire archive, so I definitely plan to return,” Wells stated in a blog post fully detailing her East Tennessee exploration.

Whenever that return happens, the Delaney estate will no doubt be waiting for her.

Featured image by Smithsonian American Art Museum

Edited by Kaitlin Flippo