The University of Chicago has a rich history of student arts, enhanced in recent years by the construction of the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts in 2012. It’s fitting then that in honor of the University’s 125th anniversary, the Logan Center should celebrate the accomplishments of the many talented student artists that have graced this campus since 1890.
A Backwards Glance: 125 Years of Student Arts opened on November 12 at Café Logan featuring pictures, posters, paintings, and fliers from the Special Collections Center of the Regenstein Library. This show portrays the rich history of student-initiated arts and artistic performance at UChicago over its history.
“In celebration of the University’s 125th, we wanted to make sure that we were doing something that was focused on the arts, the history of the arts, and a glimpse into what is going on today,” Leigh Fagin, the associate director for University Arts Engagement, said. “The impact of the arts didn’t start with the Logan Center; students have been actively engaged in the arts on campus for a really long time and it is a really deep part of the history of the University. This [display in Café Logan] is only a part of the story in visuals and some texts.”
The show’s opening showcase featured some of the very diverse artistic talents of campus, including films from Fire Escape Films, a video recording of Voices in Your Head’s award-winning a capella set, new choreography by Phinix Dance Group, spoken word performances by members of Memoryhouse Magazine, and comedic interludes by members of campus improv group Occam’s Razor.
“I think that this show demonstrates the growth that the arts have had and that they’ve had a really big impact on life on campus and have touched a lot of areas,” Fagin said. “We know that a lot of students are engaged in the arts that are not majors, that there are thousands of students every year who, if they are not taking arts classes, are engaging in the arts.”
This diversity and enthusiasm for the arts was evident at the evening’s performance. A Backwards Glance, in the spirit of student participation in the arts, was curated by fourth-year Angela Shen and second-year Jola Idowu. In addition to featuring excerpts from Special Collections, the show also includes a comprehensive timeline of the arts at UChicago, which includes such events as the creation of Doc Films and the first Summer Breeze concert.
“We hope that this exhibition gives the public and current students a better sense of the University’s history in the arts,” Fagin said.
According to Fagin, the show also features “a list of all of the arts RSOs on campus, some posters of things that happened recently, and groups that are active on campus, and an overall sense of the depth and breadth of what is happening now.”
A Backwards Glance will be running until January 1 at the Logan Center, and is open and free to the public. Despite its name, the show not only looks backward but also forward to the future of continuing vibrancy in the student arts scene on campus.
“Participation in the arts on this campus has been growing exponentially in terms of students involved and also in impact,” Fagin said.