Every spring, the Colorado Academy All-School Arts Festival signals the end of winter with a two-day celebration of creativity, fun, and community. Aided by an army of parent volunteers, CA’s arts faculty dream up a colorful cornucopia of activities that engage students of all ages in hands-on expression.
For 2023, the Visual Arts Department teamed with dance, music, and theater teachers to bring to life a multimedia, multi-sensory experience driven by the theme “Good Vibrations.” According to Director of Visual & Performing Arts Katy Hills, this year’s festival celebrates the intersection of all the arts at CA.
“One of the best things about the arts at CA is that they bring our community together,” Hills says. “And by incorporating all that we have to offer artistically in this one big ‘happening,’ we get to be playful together, take risks, try new things, and even be a little silly. That’s what this year’s Arts Festival is all about.”
The sprawling event on Stamper Commons kicked off with an evening Upper School concert that entertained listeners with music performed by CA’s many student groups—Rock Band, Academy Jazz, Chamber Ensemble, Concert Choir, and the Chanteurs. Food trucks kept the crowd happy on a perfect spring evening, and warm temperatures encouraged the audience to linger in the Adirondack chairs and couches scattered across the lawn.
During the day, students came in waves to explore unique art-making stations.
Dance and theater instructor Melissa Zaremba helped visitors to “Dancing Doodles” make their mark on large canvases by dipping their bootie-covered feet into bright acrylics and dance-painting colorful patterns with friends. Meanwhile, at “Scoots and Sketches,” Middle and Upper School ceramics teacher Alecia Maher encouraged partners to take turns pushing each other on a longboard as they used chunky crayons to draw their movements on giant sheets of paper.
At the “Spirograph Bonanza,” Middle School ceramics teacher Becci Marzonie helped artists use the classic drawing system to create intricate designs. Her husband, CA theater tech teacher Ian Marzonie, had created the enormous wooden custom Spirograph wheels using the Innovation Lab’s laser cutter. Nearby, Lower School visual art teacher Angela Hottinger helped students hang their work for display.
Students were intrigued to experience music in a whole new way at the “Groovin’ with the Bass” activity, masterminded by photography teacher Karen Donald and digital media teacher Octavia Betz. Wearing protective headphones, participants used sound waves to experiment with different materials, such as sand and “oobleck,” a suspension of water and cornstarch.
Over at the popular “Peace, Love & Buttons” station, creators scoured vintage magazines and other materials for images and patterns to turn into wearable art.
And at the room-like “Obliteration Station,” students were guided by Lower School art teacher Jorge Muñoz and Upper School art teacher Stashia Taylor as they painted tiny dots to gradually fill in the all-white furniture, walls, and props with bright colors. Inspired by the polka-dotted installations of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, the space allowed artists to add their own personal touch to a one-of-a-kind collective work touched by hundreds of CA students.
It was an apt metaphor for the annual All-School Arts Festival, where all over campus, strategically placed technicolor plastic geese—for years the unofficial “mascot” of the event—made it clear that at CA, art is everywhere, and for everyone.