Aaron Douglas Art Fair features WU students

Belly dancers at the Aaron Douglas Art Fair show their brilliant finery as they dance and chime their finger cymbals. The fair had varied entertainment, and afforder Washburn art students lots of opportunities for volunteer experiences within their field

April Ewing

The Topeka TurnAround Team marked the fifth anniversary of the Aaron Douglas Art Fair Saturday, Sept. 25, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the southwest corner of 12th and Lane in Topeka’s Tennessee Town neighborhood.

The park features a mural recreation of the Topeka artist Aaron Douglas’s “Aspects of Negro Life: From Slavery Through Reconstruction.” The original work was commissioned in 1934 for the Works Progress Administration at a branch for the New York Public Library in Harlem.

Founded in 2006 by the Topeka TurnAround Team, the Aaron Douglas Art Fair honors Douglas’s memory while encouraging artists in the Topeka community. Volunteers and artists were encouraged to apply on the website by August 28.

Shannon Fouquet was chosen as this year’s featured artist. The fair includes food, entertainment, art, and the Kids’ Zone with fun activities like face painting and a wish tree.

The Washburn Art Student Association has volunteered for the past few years at the fair.

“WASA interacts with children by painting faces, placing temporary tattoos on faces, and hanging wishes on the wishing tree,” said Deedra Baker, WASA President and senior art major. “The wishing tree is a tree in which people may write a wish on a piece of ribbon and then someone hangs it on a tree branch…it makes a big tree full of wishes.”

This year WASA also had an artists’ booth in which five students sold artwork. Those students were Eleanor Heimbaugh, Kris Roberts, Tim Hutton, Matthew Linn, and Deedra Baker. The students booth featured a variety of mediums, including photography, ceramics, and painting.

Students were excited with the opportunities this presented to them for volunteering and experience, especially art students looking for exposure.

“This is a great volunteer opportunity for Washburn students—especially art students because we get to participate in a community driven art event,” said Baker.

“Students are able to be a part of an event that caters to children and families that may not have any other artistic experience outside of the ADAF. I personally enjoy spending time with fellow artists, students, and members of the community on a Saturday centered around art.”

It’s not all about the networking though. Baker also enjoys the overall experience as a perk.

“It is a lot of fun to paint fun images and designs on excited children’s faces,” she said.

Baker encourages art students to join WASA, citing the many benefits of the group. “WASA offers students opportunities to go to art conferences, art trips, funding/grants and great student camaraderie. There is no reason not to join WASA as an art student because it exposes each of us to opportunities that can prepare us for our future as artists.”

Looking through the pieces collected at the fair, one often wonders where the art comes from.

“I find my inspiration in nature,” said Heimbaugh, junior fine arts major.

“We will have a throwoff night sponsored by Washburn Art Team Potters coming up,” said Linn, senior fine arts major. “Anyone can come to the ceramics room in the art building, on the Throwoff night, and we’ll teach you how to throw on the wheel and make pottery.”

WATP hosts its meetings every first Thursday of the month in the Art Building in the Ceramics Studio at 4 p.m. Tentatively set are a Halloween Party and a Throwoff Night where students and the community can come and “throw” together something ceramic, the students will fire it up and sell at the annual chili bowl sale.

“Students also stand to profit as well, making money off the proceeds from the Throwoff Night.” Linn said.

The Aaron Douglas Art Fair is free and open to the public, on Saturday, Sept. 25, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. More information can be found on its website at http://aarondouglasartfair.com, through their facebook page. More information about WASA can be found by contacting [email protected] or through their facebook groups. The Aaron Douglas Art Fair is an affiliate of the Topeka TurnAround Team, a grassroots non-profit established in 1993 for the enhancement and preservation of Central Topeka.