Culture for the community

“Whether we realize it or not, we are all involved with the arts and creativity every day of our lives,” said Festival of the Arts Board Chairperson and Ferris professor Bruce Dilg.

“Whether it is deciding what color and style of clothes to wear, what style of car we want to drive, or the style of the buildings in which we live and work, art is an everyday occurrence,” said Dilg.

Festival of the Arts aims to increase awareness of art and culture, and it also provides an opportunity for local artists to show off their work and teach people their passions. Those involved with Festival of the Arts hope to enrich people’s lives through the arts and to use the arts as a vehicle to build bridges between Ferris and the broader Big Rapids community.

“We have seen more and more interest and involvement from not only local art groups but outside artists who want to be involved,” said Dilg. “We hope to work harder on getting Ferris students involved in the future.”

The festival is a 30 day event spanning from Jan. 27 to Feb. 27. During this time, at least one event per day will take place in either downtown Big Rapids, on campus, or at other various Festival of the Arts venues.

“We hope that once again the festival will help the month of February fly by and bring us the sunshine we miss so much,” said Dilg.

This year’s events include chainsaw art, guitar demonstrations, flower arrangement workshops, welding for artists classes, hands-on pottery sessions, digital photography workshops, fiddlers, coffee cup art, and many others.

“I’m planning on going to as many events as I can to experience what Mecosta County has to offer,” said Adam Cieslinski, freshman in the pre-optometry program.

“By bringing an event like this to Big Rapids, it can show students what different cultures are like and bring the students together in a completely new and different way,” said Macy Al-Shatel, senior in the international business program. “Everyone needs or should be exposed to different cultures at one point in their life whether it be when they are little children, or grown adults. Having this type of experience can open people’s minds in a way they never knew possible.”

“Even if you cannot attend every concert, view every art exhibit, or hear every speaker, the sheer multitude of events and length of the Festival of the Arts will allow you, on that open afternoon or evening, to experience the triumph of the human spirit,” said President of Artworks Doug Haneline in the Festival of the Arts brochure. “Our mission at Artworks is to provide arts and cultural programs to the Big Rapids area. We consider it a great opportunity to work with faculty and others at Ferris so that a real showcase of the arts scene in Big Rapids can be provided.”

The events of the Festival of the Arts create memories that will last a lifetime.

“The poetry writing workshop in 2008 in the middle of a terrible snowstorm turned out to be a wonderful way to help me deal with the death of my mother that had just occurred,” said Dilg. “Also, watching the totally deaf son of the pastor at First United Methodist Church ‘listen’ to the sounds of the Flat River Big Band at the Big Band Dance Night by hearing the vibrations through his feet was a wonderful moment.”

“After looking at the list of events, I would love to go to the historical events the most,” said Al-Shatel. “By going to historical events, whether they are about your own history or another culture’s, students will have the chance to see what people had to go through to get to where they are today.”

The majority of events are free to the public thanks to the generosity of various departments at Ferris, the city of Big Rapids, and many businesses throughout the community.

“Art brings richness and fullness to our lives,” said Dilg. “There are ways in which each person can experience art in a way that interests them.” n