Smile Politely

Five things in arts this month: January 2023

Risograph multicolor print illustration featuring crying woman's face integrated with illustrations of cars and and buildings.
University YMCA on Facebook

If your resolution for 2023 is to broaden your arts horizon, this month’s arts calendar has plenty of opportunities to do just that. From exploring the world of dance films to experiencing the radical notion of artful rest, these five arts events offer ways to stretch your creative imagination in new directions.  Any of these experiences can provide meditative me time or a reason to gather with friends. But why stop at just one?

Flatlands Dance Film Festival Short Film Competition

Solo male dancer center stage against light blue and black backdrop with arms and gaze raised. Wearing a t-shirt and a long, white flowing skirt covered with flowers and lights.
Bobby Gordan

Dance film is more than a video of a live performance. It merges the best of both genres, using cinematography as a tool for enhancing and extending the narrative capacity of dance performances. Flatlands Dance Film Festival, founded and directed right here at the Dance at Illinois, curates the latest and greatest works in this genre. Friday’s line-up features works by Alfonso Abraham Cervera, Steve Rosa, Diana Cervera, and Primera Generacion Dance Collective comprised of Cervera, Irvin Manuel Gonzalez, Patricia Huerta, and Rosa Rodriguez Frazier. As the program observes, “these LatinX/e choreographers create works that honor their identities and the various communities that they stem from by using their culturally unapologetic lived experiences as BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artist. Each artist showcases works that are in relationship to Latinidad and Mexicanidad using their choreographic strategies of dance, voice, and the dancing body as commentary.”

Saturday features the short film competition portion, with a variety of films which explore this year’s theme: Culture Shock. Experience how shifting from the familiar to the unfamiliar can be expressed through dance and through dance created for the camera.

Flatlands Dance Film Festival Short Film Competition
Spurlock Museum
600 S Gregory
Urbana
F + Sa January 20-21
$10, tickets at the door

Rest Lab

Photo of artist Matt Harsh within his Rest Lab and light and sound installation which invites an experience of intentional rest.
Krannert Art Museum

At a time when its social justice seems to backwards, I am thrilled to see the Rest as Resistance movement gain footing here in Central Illinois. Originated by the Nap Ministry with the intention to “create sacred spaces where the liberatory, restorative, and disruptive power of rest can take hold. Founded within “the soils of Black radical thought, somatics, Afrofuturism, womanism, and liberation theology,” it posits that our bodies “are sites of liberation, knowledge, and invention that are waiting to be reclaimed and awakened by the beautiful interruptions of brutal systems that sleep and dreaming provide.”

Starting this month, Krannert Art Museum will be offering rest labs once every semester. Installed in gallery spaces that are resting between shows, they invite visitors to “take up space in the museum by using the gallery to consider what resting means, and what it could look like.” Kudos to KAM Education Coordinators Ishita Dharap and Kamila Glowacki* for organizing a program and a place that employs art to resist grind culture. And mark your calendar for February 2nd, when artist Matt Harsh (above), Urbana Dance Company, and Twoleggedzoo will present an immersive light, sound, and dance performance designed to inspire rest, relaxation and introspection.

Rest Lab
Krannert Art Museum
500 E Peabody
Champaign
January 24-February 11
Get museum hours here

* Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article did not include Kamila Glowacki as co-creator of Rest Lab. The article has been updated to reflect the correct information. We regret this error.

Down, Down into Infinity He Goes

Risograph multicolor print illustration featuring crying woman's face integrated with illustrations of cars and and buildings.
University YMCA on Facebook

If you’re not familiar with Will Arnold and his work, here’s a chance to correct that situation. In addition to being a staff member at the School of Art & Design, Arnold is the co-founder of Work Press & Publication, a small indie press specializing in short-run Risograph-printed books, zines, and prints. You may have met him at the Champaign-Urbana Small Press Fest, which he co-founded, or seen his amazing original work on Instagram. Inspired by zine and comic cultures, Arnold, according to his exhibition artist statement, “explores themes such as landscape, perception, memory, and gender norms,“ while also “making art objects accessible and available to art collectors and appreciators of all levels.” Arnold is a talented revolutionary inspired by significant opportunities for change. Do not miss this chance to see his work up close. 

Arnold will be speaking at the opening reception for this show on January 26th. Doors open at 5 p.m. and remarks begin at 5:30 p.m. He will also speak at the Friday Forum + Conversation Café at noon on Friday, March 3rd in Latzer Hall at the Y.

Down, Down into Infinity He Goes
Murphy Gallery
University YMCA
1001 S Wright
Champaign
January 25-March 10
Get gallery hours here 

Studio Dance

Photo of three dancers in muted beige and blue shirts and masked, raising their arms, each faced in a different direction against a pink wall which shows their shadows.
Dance at Illinois on Facebook

In her program notes, concert director Jennifer Monson writes this about what you can expect from this month’s Studio Dance performances.

Tonight’s concert offers us the opportunity to sit with the contradictory and sometimes ambivalent experiences of the human condition. Each choreographer has honed in on the emotional complexities of their belief systems and how these are shaped by and respond to dominant narratives of social and political forces. The themes that push the choreography forward are deeply personal. Foregrounding the painful experiences regarding assumptions about identity and positionality that foreclose our possibilities, these works insist that we imagine otherwise, that we not flinch from conflict but sit with the intensity of the moment and move through it.

If there is ever a reason start exploring contemporary dance, I can’t think of one better than this. Live dance with its physicality, expressiveness, and engagement with the world around it, is perhaps the perfect vehicle for catharsis. Studio Dance features the work of Assistant Teaching Professor and Media Specialist Laura Chiaramonte, Professor Jennifer Monson, MFA candidate Abby Chin, and new Associate Professor Roxane D’Orleans Juste. 

Studio Dance
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
500 S Goodwin
Urbana
Th-Sa January 26-28, 7:30 p.m.
Get ticket information here

Studio Debut Prism Studios

Prism Studio on Facebook

I’ve been happily following Prism Studio’s progress since they first announced their plan for a practice and a place that supported the revolutionary (and healing) notion that art can be for everyone. The talented and encouraging instructors meet people where they are. And it’s working. Prism Studio’s social media is filled with the proud smiles of new or returning artists celebrating their creations. More than that, they seem like they are having fun.

This month’s debut of their new studio space is the perfect chance to see what they’re all about. Get a tour. Enjoy art by artist and co-founder KT Hannibal.  You can even shop the new merch and show your Prism Pride.

Studio Debut Prism Studios
207 S Mattis, Ste. #3
Champaign
F January 27th, 6-10 p.m.
$5 suggested donation

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