Manifest aims to ‘animate’ art community


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Manifest Preview

By Campus Editor

Columbia will come together on May 13 for the final celebration of the academic year, uniting every department to celebrate the 16th annual Manifest Urban Arts Festival. 

More than 2,000 student artists and performers will “animate” the Wabash Arts Corridor by performing on 11 stages, showcasing work in 13 galleries and finishing the installation of 17 full-length murals.

Cassidy Kapson, a senior design major and creative director for Manifest, said she developed the theme “animate” after being inspired by Columbia students and the South Loop community.

“Animate ties back together how we all connect and exist as moving parts in a larger community,” Kapson said. 

Mark Kelly, vice president of Student Success, said Manifest has grown as a major citywide festival attracting more than 30,000 people annually from Chicago’s arts and culture community. 

“We invite the public because anyone that cares about art  in the city should care about Manifest,” Kelly said. 

Manifest will kick off with the fourth annual “Great Convergence,” as approximately 2,400 graduates march south down Wabash Avenue. The procession will include large puppets, a marching band, the student color guard and the dance squad. 

Following the procession, Kelly will lead graduate students in his annual “Hell yeah, we did it” speech on top of a bus with a megaphone. 

“It’s the bookend to when new students start at convocation, and it was each individual saying ‘Hell yeah.’ Now it’s ‘Hell yeah, we did it,’” Kelly said. “It is a collective journey.”

The day will continue with department showcases, musical performances, tours of the arts corridor, unveilings of group exhibitions and screenings of student films.

The culmination of Big Walls, a two-week project from May 1–13 that will bring 18 international, local, alumni and current student artists’ work to the WAC, will take place at the Papermaker’s Garden, located at the intersection of  Wabash Avenue and 8th Street.

Shannon Bourne, assistant director of Student Activities and the adviser of the Student Programming Board, said she oversees the logistics of Manifest, including the 90 college liaisons who organize events and showcases. She also manages the Manifest Student Production team that helps plan the event.

“It is really rewarding for me to be able to see what students are producing and seeing them enjoy [Manifest],” Bourne said.

The Manifest Student Production team is made up of three business & entrepreneurship students, including Production Assistant Grace Kinter, a sophomore; Graduate Showcase Assistant Charleston Parham, a first-year graduate student; and Marketing Assistant Adriana Prieto, a second-year graduate student.

Kinter, who showcased work about sexual assault at Manifest last year, said she is in charge of behind-the-scenes logistics like reading proposals, recruiting and training volunteers and coordinating food trucks for the festival.

Kinter said she wanted to experience organizing a large event.

“My favorite part is just seeing the diverse amount of students we have; they are so creative and interesting in every way,” Kinter said.

Prieto said she worked on the social media and marketing strategies for Manifest. She also helped create the first 10-episode web series showcasing departments’ work.

“This web series has let me get to know every artist,” Prieto said. “That is my favorite part—how everything is connected.” 

Parham said he learned a lot from helping curate the graduate showcases that will be shown on May 12.

SPB will host a pop-up lounge at 900 S. Wabash Ave. featuring a “silent disco,” which is popular at EDM concerts where people can listen and dance to music while wearing headphones, said Ian Valiente, a senior business & entrepreneurship major and SPB president.

The night will end with Biggest Mouth winners ConSoul, a soulful hip-hop duo, opening for local gospel rapper and headliner Sir the Baptist on the Manifest Main Stage, Wabash Avenue and 9th Street.

Valiente said ConSoul is the perfect opener for Sir the Baptist, who brings a lot of energy. Valiente added that he hopes to see Sir the Baptist’s career grow after performing, as has happened for previous headliners like Chance The Rapper.

“We would like to say we are trendsetters in the music industry, at least on a [collegiate] level,” Valiente said. 

Unlike previous years, Kelly said he looks forward to the festival’s events going later into the evening, continuing the celebratory energy.