Creative Arts Program Director Stacy Donovan has wanted to bring the Fringe Festival experience to Watkinson for a while. She wanted to create the festival feel for the benefit of both those making and seeing art. “Imagine you went to your favorite arts fair and all the artists were there! As a teacher, I want arts students to have the artists exhibition experience. Yes, Watkinson has 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade exhibitions, but an artist’s exhibition is different; it’s not ‘here’s my project and this is how I did it.’ This kind of exhibition gives artists a way to talk about their work in a different manner than the rest of their academic life in that it’s not scripted. Instead, student-artists must respond to utterly impromptu moments, they must respond to the reaction of a viewer in the moment.”
Unlike an academic exhibition which comes with a set rubric and anticipatable questions, the artistic exhibition has no set questions; and the questions come from different age groups, perspectives. Artists must speak to their work in unexpected ways.
Donovan’s foundational philosophy is that great art doesn’t answer questions, it asks them. She reflects, “When a student-artist hears someone say ‘You’ve made me think about _______,’ it shows the artist that their art put a question in the mind of the viewer that was or wasn’t what they expected. The Fringe Festival made the idea of continual questioning a compliment, versus something scary. It provided the opportunity for a rich exchange.”