Christina Wald stares intently across Loch Norse at the student performance taking place at the amphitheatre with a sketchbook and writing utensils in hand. “Urban Sketchers Cincinnati” is written across her black t-shirt in white block letters. This is her second sketching location of the day.
The air is warm and the sun is shining—perfect weather for an outdoor concert at Loch Norse that draws students and community members alike to campus on a Saturday afternoon. Black, yellow and white balloons line the sidewalk, along with chalk art, leading visitors from a do-it-yourself screen printing station to the live performances of Broadway songs, musical theatre previews, jazz ensembles and rhythm and blues groups. With such an array of content, the Urban Sketchers have plenty of scenery to choose from to draw this afternoon.
Wald, who teaches illustration at NKU, found out about the School of the Arts Showcase and said, “I thought it would be cool to show the Urban Sketchers because we know it’s a way to keep involved in the arts.”
Wald is the founder of the Cincinnati chapter of Urban Sketchers. The group is open to the public and they meet on the third Saturday of every month at different locations to draw together. The SOTA Showcase proved an interesting location this month for the group of artists.
The Fine Arts Building was open to visitors to display the diverse art programs that NKU has to offer. Across the Loch, people were scattered on the lawn immersed in a showcase of live performances from SOTA students and faculty. The afternoon was full of opportunities to check out NKU’s artists and projects.
BFA dance coordinator Tracey Bonner was contacted by Brian Hogg, jazz coordinator and associate professor, about collaborating. The SOTA Showcase gave them the opportunity to work together on a rare performance in a venue they hadn’t tried before.
“I love working with live music, which we never get to do as dancers,” Bonner said. “We took advantage of that.”
The Director of SOTA, Matthew Albritton, said that after some faculty pointed out the natural amphitheater in front of the lake, they wanted to utilize the space. The Showcase was built around student and faculty volunteers who featured their projects and the talent that can be found within NKU.
“I’ve heard for many years that NKU and things that are going on in the arts at NKU are the region’s best kept secret,” Albritton said. “We don’t want to be the best kept secret anymore. We want to be out there.”
The showcase aimed to display the students, faculty and alumni of SOTA in ways the community doesn’t generally see. It also integrated multiple areas of the arts to create memorable performances.
“I would invite our campus community and the community at large to come in and see what we’re up to,” Albritton said. “And I guarantee you whether you come to see an art show, music performance, dance, theatre performance—you will walk away impressed.”
Having the opportunity to open up campus to welcome the community and potential students to see the artists in action can help dismantle the perception that SOTA’s work is only for SOTA students. The Showcase not only brought attention to NKU’s diverse art scene, but allowed the various disciplines of SOTA to come together for a day of celebrating their accomplishments and hard work.
“Getting people outside of our little world to know all the pieces that go to the work that we make, it’s never just about what you see on the wall or what you see on stage,” Bonner said. “There’s so much more behind it.”