As an arts community within a college town, the arrival of May signifies a season of endings and beginnings. Students in visual and performing arts programs are to be celebrated for their uniquely hard won successes having studied, created, and performed during a years-long pandemic. And C-U moms, whose metal has also been tested these past few years, are about to have the most art-filled Mother's Day weekend we've seen in a while. And they definitely deserve it. Whether your passion lies in poetry, fashion, or art (and science), you'll want to build up your stamina for the abundance of opportunities ahead this coming weekend. 


Art of Science 12.0: Interdependencies

Cropped image of 3D rendering of human organism against a golden sun in the sky.
Photo, cropped, from the Institute of Genomic Biology website.

When I first encountered this image, I couldn't take my eyes off of it. And for good reason. It was unlike anything I'd ever seen. It was both viscerally human and poetic. It was, as its name suggests, a convergence of interdependent elements. 

The Institute of Genomic Biology's Art of Science program is "a celebration of the common ground between science and art. Images from Illinois research were the starting point for these works, which were created by scientists working in partnership with current IBG artist Julia Pollack. These pieces are the result of conversations between the scientists and the artist, and are an abstract visual exploration to highlight the power and aesthetics of science imagery." 

This year's exhibit "revolves around the theme of 'Interdependencies" and invites viewers to "experience a world of connections, newly brought to light by science and conveyed through art."

Art of Science 12.0: Interdependencies
May 6th, 4 to 8 p.m.
May 7th, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cafeteria & Company
208 W Main St
Urbana

CU Ballet's The Little Mermaid

Photo of three female dancers dressed as crabs for The Little Mermaid.
Photo from the CU Ballet website. 

This month the CU Ballet makes its post-pandemic return to the stage of the Virginia Theatre with a production of Hans Christian Anderson's The Little Mermaid. This is a cause for celebration! This family-friendly event is sure to remind us of the magic of in-person ballet. Together the members of the audience hold their breaths before each leap and bring their hands together for the skills and charisma CU Ballet dancers are known for. Advance photos, like the one above, promise visual delights from the set and costume designers. This is certainly where local ballet moms will be celebrating their weekend and for good reason. Watch the trailer here.

CU Ballet's The Little Mermaid
May 6th, 7 p.m.
May 7th, 2 p.m. + 7 p.m.
The Virginia Theatre
203 W Park Ave
Champaign
Get ticket information here

School Art & Design BFA Exhibition

Photo of students and community members gathering at a student art exhibition at Krannert Art Museum.
Photo from the Krannert Art Museum website.

One of the benefits of living in a college town is the opportunity to experience the work of emerging artists fromt the Illinois School of Art & Design. Following the recent MFA exhibition, it's time to see what the BFA candidates have been up to. While the Smile Politely arts section has continued to spotlight the work of undergraduate and graduate students in the visual, literary, and performing arts, this year's exhibition deserves special attention. These are the young artists who were hit the hardest by the isolation of the pandemic. They lost years of in-person interaction with colleagues and community supporters. And here is our chance to do what we can to show them the props they deserve. 

School Art & Design BFA Exhibition
May 7-15
Opening reception: May 7th, 4 to 6 p.m.
Krannert Art Museum
500 E Peabody
Champaign

Re-Fashioned 2022

Cropped photo of woman modeling puffy white repurposed dress in the Krannert Center outdoor amphitheater steps.
Photo from the UIUC Fashion Design Facebook page.

Forgive me for another moment of nostalgia as I share what Re-Fashioned has meant to me over the years; and, why I am so thrilled about its in-person return at the Siebel Center for Design. As an arts writer and creative, I not only find inspiration in Re-Fashioned. I also find purpose and drive, which are powerful antidotes to creative burnout. I look forward to Re-Fashioned because while I know I will experience awe-inspiring experiments in repurpose and reuse, I am continually surprised and delighted each year's runway looks. 

Re-Fashioned represents one of the best local examples of the "think global, act local" philosophy. In the classroom and one the runway, these student designers take small but significant steps toward a more eco-friendly, and, inclusive fashion future. With each trip to the I.D.E.A. store, they remind us that even in, or rather, especially in, midwestern college towns, change is happening. And this is something to celebrate. Stay tuned to the arts section for an upcoming interview with several Re-Fashioned 2022 student designers. 

Re-Fashioned 2022
May 7th, 6 p.m.
Siebel Center for Design
1208 S 4th St
Champaign

Glass Room Poets Reading

Phot of an intricate glass mosaic.
Photo from the Glass Room Poets Facebook page.

I first experienced The Glass Room Poets as one of my early assignments as Smile Politely's Arts Editor. I can still remember my reactions: laughter, delight, and connection. They changed my understanding of the accessibility and importance of contemporary poetry and the unique pleasure of seeing and hearing it read a loud to a group of felllow word nerds. This Sunday, poets Robert Manaster, Emily Kerlin, Elizabeth Majerus, James Engelhardt, Matthew Murrey, and John Palen will share their work, and you won't want to miss it. And while they will read via Zoom, the impact of their words and their voices will not be lost. 

Glass Room Poets Reading
May 8th, 2 to 3 p.m.
Urbana Free Library
On Zoom
Register here

Top photo from the UIUC Fashion Design Facebook page.