College Day at Crystal Bridges

Junior Ashley Trotter, a vocal performance major and member of the UA Opera Theater, performs Sept. 8 during College Day at Crystal Bridges.

Inside the modern art gallery of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art on Sept. 8th, operatic voices resonated from the center of the room. Outside, students lined the North Forest Trail, taking in the ambiance of the live music filling the sculpture garden.

The event saw its largest turnout yet, with 600 students in attendance, said Sara Segerlin, Crystal Bridges senior manager of public programs and community engagement.

College Day at Crystal Bridges was a free event that offered attendees a more interactive experience with art. Attendees received free entrance to temporary exhibitions. Aside from the art, students could make pottery with the ceramics club, or enjoy food from Mo’Tacos & Churros.

“We’ve done this now for eight years as a way to encourage college students to be inspired by the museum,” said Sara Segerlin, Crystal Bridges senior manager of public programs and community engagement.

Rather than fixating on one type of art, College Day activities showcased multiple subgenres and highlighted various programs available at the UofA, ranging from opera theater to an outdoor sculpture exhibit.

Dennese Adkins, a UA Opera Theater graduate assistant, performed a piece from UA Opera Theater’s upcoming “Hansel and Gretel” production, which is scheduled for Nov. 21-22 at the Faulkner Performing Arts Center.

“Opera kind of has this reputation of being very ‘hoity toity’ and for the elite only, and this is where we can actually introduce music that people might not see in their daily lives,” Adkins said.

Ashley Trotter, an UA Opera Theater performer, found the College Day experience amazing, she said.

“The crowds have been really wonderful and really getting it and connecting with it, and the space is absolutely beautiful,” Trotter said.

Trotter’s involvement with the UA Opera Theater began her freshman year in college, after she discovered her passion for opera late in her high school career, she said.

UA Opera Theater performer Emily Autem thinks the intimacy of the modern art gallery performance space has been a key factor in displaying the variety of talents the UA Opera Theater program has to offer, she said.

Outside on the North Forest lawn, students enjoyed live music from student jazz band Honey Collective and a trail that led them to “Color Field,” an outdoor sculpture exhibit. “Color Field”was a collaboration between artists who used vibrant color schemes in their larger-than-life sculptures. 

The exhibit was inspired by the painting style called “color field,” the vast nature of the Ozark region, and the writings of Josef Albers titled “Interaction of Color.” 

Attendee Gabrielle Castillo thought the “Color Field” exhibit brought something special to the museum, she said.

“I’ve seen most of Crystal Bridges, but this, I’ve never seen before,” Castillo said.

Sergerlin said that the event was a great way to experiment and encourage community involvement.

Nathanael Davis is the photo editor for The Arkansas Traveler, where previously worked as a reporter, photographer and associate editor.

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