Affair of the Arts Week 2019 brings students back to the 1920s

Gabriella Pinos and Victoria Abella/PantherNOW Staff

The Student Programming Council at the Biscayne Bay Campus brought students back to the 1920s during Affair of the Arts Week from Feb. 24 to March 1.

Held every year at BBC, Affair of the Arts Week showcases artwork and talent from FIU and around Miami. This year’s events were themed after the Harlem Renaissance, a social and artistic explosion of black and African American culture that arose from the neighborhood of Harlem in New York City during the 1920s.

“We chose the Harlem Renaissance as this year’s theme because of the artistic explosion that happened during that time,” said Ycole Boncamper, president of SPC-BBC and a second-year graduate student studying linguistics.

SPC-BBC Vice President Cristella Figueroa, a senior a biology major, coordinated this year’s Affair of the Arts Week. She said the organization experimented with different events this year that fit with the Harlem Renaissance, such as Rhythm and Brunch on Monday, Feb. 25, which featured a live jazz band.

“This year, the jazz was very different [from previous years], especially since many people don’t listen to that, so it was really nice, and it’s just giving everyone an opportunity to see different things,” said Figueroa.

Aruzhan Toleubay, a junior studying hospitality, participating in Painting by the Bay on Tuesday, Feb. 27. Photo by Gabriella Pinos.

Other events, such as Painting by the Bay on Tuesday, Feb. 26, gave students the opportunity to paint and create their own artwork. Paula Franco, a senior majoring in marketing and broadcast media, said she enjoyed attending the event and showing off her creative side.

“I also think it’s a great wat to provide students with the chance of exercising their creativity,” said Franco. “This is important because as young adults we are so busy and focused on other matters that we lose touch with parts of ourselves.”

Aruzhan Toleuby, a junior majoring in hospitality, said Painting by the Bay was a way for her to relax during exam week.

“It’s like therapy, especially during midterms when you’re stressed,” said Toleuby.

Blaze the Stage, a talent show hosted at BBC, took place on Wednesday, Feb. 27 and was one of the highlights of the week, according to Figueroa. Six FIU contestants ranging from freshmen to Ph. D candidates showed off their comedic and vocal talents for the audience and judges.

The winner, freshman and communications major Alanna Barlow, won an entertainment scholarship with one of the judges for her performance of “Part of Your World” from “The Little Mermaid.”

“When she went on stage for the first time, I was like, ‘wow, she has such a powerful voice,’” said Boncamper. “I’m proud that I was able to showcase that FIU has really talented students.”

Figueroa, who coordinated Blaze the Stage in 2018, said she wanted all FIU students to embrace the diversity of talent at this year’s show and throughout the week.

Freshman and communications major Alanna Barlow won first place in the Blaze the Stage 2019 talent show. Behind her are guest judges; from left to right, Theo Brown, Lucien Jacquemin (DJ Entice) and Richard Trowers (Rich Dollaz). Photo by Gabriella Pinos.

“There’s different types of music but everyone’s showcasing their talent and everyone kind of relates to it, so it kind of adds to the different cultures at this campus,” said Figueroa.

This diversity was also reflected through “Harlem Renaissance,” an exhibit by local arts production company Miami Urban Contemporary Experience, on display from Wednesday, Feb. 27 to Thursday, Feb. 28.

Saige Mills, a senior majoring in advertising, said he was glad the MUCE exhibit brought attention to artwork from the Haitian community.

“Culturally, it’s relevant. It should also be in [the Modesto Maidique] campus where there’s less of a Haitian culture so they can get exposure to certain things,” said Mills.

Boncamper also said the MUCE exhibit highlighted work from black artists, fitting in with the impact the Harlem Renaissance had on the African American community.

“With all that’s going on, it’s great to focus on local artists in Miami, especially black local artists,” said Boncamper.

Other events, such as Dance Explosion on Thursday, Feb. 28, brought other forms of art popular during the Harlem Renaissance center stage. The event, which took place on Thursday, Feb. 28, invited students to dance along with instructors to tap, Afro beat and hip-hop at the BBC Culture Corner.

“Tap was pretty popular during the Harlem Renaissance,” said Boncamper regarding the genres featured in Dance Explosion.

Affair of the Arts week culminated on Friday, March 1 with SPC-BBC’s Murder Mystery Party: Dining with Danger. Students who RSVP’d for the event arrived in 1920s attire and participated in a real-life Clue game to solve the “death of a gangster.”

Mahalia Balfour, the student advocacy chair and one of the Arts, Sciences, & Education senators of SGC-BBC, at the Murder Mystery Party on Friday, March 1. Photo by Victoria Abella.

It was the first time the organization had created this kind of party, according to Figueroa, which included actors from the Murder Mystery Company in Miami. As students settled in, the characters assigned name tags and passed out and debriefed binders with information specific to each table and team. Select students were chosen to be suspects along with the Murder Mystery Company actors. After dialogue from the characters, students to investigated and visited other teams to find clues on who was the killer.

Mahalia Balfour, the student advocacy chair and one of the Arts, Sciences, & Education senators of the Student Government Council at BBC, said she enjoyed the event.

“The event was really great. The events at BBC here are always very interactive and I love coming and supporting our other organizations and councils. The exciting thing is going around talking to people, investigating the suspects and stuff so that’s been really great. And the food,” said Balfour.

In all, Figueroa hopes that students enjoyed, or at least partook in, the various events Affair of the Arts had to offer throughout the week.

“I feel like people don’t appreciate different things, and then when you see it, you’re like, ‘I like this,’ or maybe, ‘I don’t like it, but I got to experience it once,’” said Figueroa.

To learn more about upcoming events hosted by SPC-BBC, follow them on Instagram @fiuspcbbc.

Featured photo by Victoria Abella.

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