Theatre Macon is putting on a musical showcase featuring their Youth Artists’ Company. Titled “YAC Follies,” the showcase is a mashup of songs from shows that have been performed by YAC in years past. “The show is a celebration of the past 30 years of the Youth Actors’ (now Artists’) Company and the effect it has had on the lives of so many youth in our community,” said Richard Frazier, artistic director of Theatre Macon. The performances are made up of songs from over 25 different musicals. Casting and script writing for the show began in December of 2019. Over the course of the past several months, the children have been getting ready for the show, which opened Feb. 21. There are 36 children cast in the show, ranging from 10 years old to 18 years old, all of whom are alumni of the YAC program. Frazier said he is very excited for the show, particularly for the last two performances. The performances will be led by the children, but several other alumni of Theatre Macon will also be on stage. “We have a number of alumni performances throughout the production, as well as one of the former YAC directors who will be coming back to perform,” he said. The idea for this show came about because Frazier wanted to highlight Theatre Macon’s history while also showcasing the amazing talent of Theatre Macon’s community. “The idea was to not only bring back together YAC alumni from the past 30 years, but to also showcase the incredibly talented YAC members we have at Theatre Macon right now,” Frazier said. “The other objective for this project is to showcase to our community the positive effects of theatre education and youth theatre on our community and on the individuals who are apart of it.” A folly is another name for a musical review, which gave rise to the name for the show. “I really wanted to make this a celebration of all things YAC and bring together as many facets of YAC from the last 30 years. And thus YAC 30th Anniversary Follies was born!” Frazier said. The show will run until March 1. Tickets can be purchased on Theatre Macon’s website, or at the door before each performance. Tickets cost $10 for students and children and $25 for adults without a student ID.
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This year’s 62nd Grammys was filled with acts that will not soon be forgotten. The event was held in the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, Jan. 26. If you weren’t able to watch the live event, here are some of the highlights that you missed. Kobe Bryant Tribute At the start of the awards show, host Alicia Keys honored Kobe Bryant’s passing, saying “We’re all crazy sad right now,” and followed it up with a breathtaking performance with Boyz II Men in honor of Bryant. Following this, Lizzo hopped on the mic to shout out “This is for Kobe,” and sang a gut-wrenching rendition of “Cuz I Love You.” Lil Nas X Lil Nas X came in with another hot remix of “Old Town Road,” featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, BTS and Nas, his namesake. Lil Nas X won a Grammy for Best Pop Duo for “Old Town Road,” a chart-topper for 17 weeks since its debut in August, according to Billboard. He won another Grammy this year for Best Music Video, also for “Old Town Road.” Lizzo Lizzo started off the night with a rendition of “Cuz I Love You” as a tribute to Kobe Bryant, and finished the night with three Grammy wins in the categories Best Pop Solo Performance for “Truth Hurts,” Best Traditional R&B Performance for “Jerome” and Best Urban Contemporary Album for “Cuz I Love You.” Demi Lovato Lovato’s performance of “Anybody” was a showstopper. Written in 2018 before an almost fatal drug overdose, Lovato performed her new song for the very first time at the Grammys. She was very emotional, as this was her first time performing in public in two years. Billie Eilish Eilish finished the night with a total of five Grammys, in categories including Best New Artist, Record of the Year for “Bad Guy” and Best Pop Vocal Album for “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” Eilish took to the stage to perform “When the Party’s Over,” one of her more famous songs from the “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” album. The 2020 Grammys was a night to remember filled with many performances by talented musicians, giving recognition to their hard work and dedication to the music industry. For more highlights on what happened at this year’s Grammys, check out their website.
Harry Styles has once again proven himself to be an outstanding artist with his second album, “Fine Line.” Styles’ fans have gone crazy over his new music, as his album “broke (the) record as the biggest sales debut from an English male artist in the U.S.,” according to Official Charts. His album has over 52 million streams and more than 38,000 album sales, and Styles was on the top of the Rolling Stones charts for two weeks after the album’s release. The album features 12 songs that range from extremely catchy to touching and tender. Throughout the album, Styles creates a sweet and sincere beat, reminiscent of a summer day, by using very tactile images and heartfelt lines. “Fine Line” seems to have something for everyone, from bops like “Golden” and “Watermelon Sugar,” to more heartfelt songs like “She” and the titular song, “Fine Line.” “Watermelon Sugar” is one of the first singles that Styles released from the album, and it serves as a nice glimpse into what the album as a whole sounds like. In this song, Styles creates a summery beat that gives listeners almost a nostalgic feeling. Styles tells his listeners that the love he feels is like “strawberries on a summer evening,” a tactile image that makes his audience feel exactly what he is feeling. The second single released was “Adore You,” showcasing a different side of the album that Styles has meticulously crafted. In songs such as “Adore You,” “Fine Line” and “She,” Styles croons to the ever mysterious “she” about how much he cares for her. In more heartfelt songs, Styles uses very tender lines to make his audience feel like they can relate to his experiences. In “Falling,” Styles sings out, “I’m in my bed and you’re not here. And there’s no one to blame but the drink and my wandering hands…. I can’t take it back, I can’t run back the baggage you left,” hitting right to the core of the listener’s heart, following it with “What am I now? What if I’m someone I don’t want around?” Styles was able to create an album that seems to have resonated with a lot of people. He is currently one of the biggest chart-toppers in the United States, casting people under his spell with his lyrics and a voice that has the ability to capture feelings that almost everyone can find relatable. Styles was able to create an album that has been a huge success, proving once again that he is an artist that is more than capable of creating music on his own.
For the past several years, Mercer has offered a unique course that is unknown to many. Hidden within the Women’s and Gender Studies department, the fiber arts and culture class allows students to understand the history and importance of the art form. Created over ten years ago by Mary Anne Drake, the fiber arts and culture course sought to teach students about the history behind fiber arts while also helping them see the significance of what they were learning. The course is led by biology professors and teaches practical skills of weaving, knitting and crocheting. Students also discuss the origin of these skills and how women in the past built their lives around them. Students in the course learn how to weave, knit and crochet. They also experiment with dyes and learn about different fibers and their ability to take in colors. Senior Emma Johnston took the fiber arts course in the fall of 2018. “The course revolves around the history and impact of fiber arts and culture, which has existed both as a household necessity and an artform from the beginning of time,” Johnston said. Johnston said she enjoyed the class and loved that the course was dedicated to feminine history. “This is such a unique opportunity that Mercer offers,” Johnston said. “You will learn so much and build really strong relationships with others in the class as you all learn together.” The class has been taught on a rotating schedule by biology professors Linda Hensel and Virginia Young. This year, Young is leading a class of eight students in Godsey Science Center. “Rather than just talking about the fiber arts and just teaching students how to knit and crochet, we are able to do more things like dyeing yarn … it is nice to be able to take advantage of some lab space to be able to get our hands dirty,” Young said. Having a biology professor teach the course allows students to not only understand the mechanics of how to knit, crochet and dye, but also shows students how to look at fiber arts on a more microscopic level. Young said that everyone’s favorite part of the course this year has been playing with the dyes. It is an exercise that allows the students to be really creative with their projects. “Everybody loves color. It’s always a popular activity to play with the color and think about how the fibers take color differently,” said Young. Fiber arts have been a large part of women’s history, but have been largely overlooked and misunderstood. Young seeks to help students understand the significance and impact of it. Over the course of the semester, students read texts on the history of the fiber arts and completed projects such as dyeing yarn and creating looms. “The biggest emphasis is thinking about women’s work, how it’s been valued or not valued throughout time … This is not a valued type of art. And that’s because it’s largely women’s work,” Young said. The fiber arts and culture course has been imperative in teaching students at Mercer something that has never really been understood before. “Students are going around campus knitting and crocheting all the time, and they have conversations with people,” Young said. “And they’re like ‘why are you doing that, isn’t that for old women? Isn’t that a granny activity?’” Students in the course have a unique opportunity to learn new things and erase the misconceptions surrounding fiber arts. For thousands of years women have been perfecting this craft through several types of mediums, and even in an age where you can buy clothes online, these students are able to continue that tradition.
Last year, renovations were completed for an initiative started in Mill Hill in order to revitalize houses and bring artists to the east side of Macon. The Mill Hill East Macon Artist Village was created by the Macon Arts Alliance in conjunction with Macon-Bibb County in order to renovate houses in the neighborhood. The first phase of this initiative was to restore the auditorium on Clinton Street to create a community arts center. After this, the Macon Arts Alliance started renovating the historic cottages along Schell Avenue and Hydrolia Street in order to create living spaces for artists in the community. According to the Mill Hill website, “these 14 homes will make up the artist village in which artists will live, work and take full advantage of the adjacent Mill Hill Community Arts Center.” Mill Hill project director JR Olive was able to work closely with the Mill Hill Artist Village and also helped the artists in residence who have lived there since its opening. The houses have hosted three artists in residence so far. The first artist in residence was Loganic, a visual artist who is a Macon native. After graduating from Mercer, he went on to get his Masters of Fine Arts at New York University. Following a brief period in Germany, Loganic returned to his roots and began living in the Mill Hill East Macon Artist Village. Loganic lived in a cottage at Mill Hill for six months. During his time there, he hosted various art events in the community while also working on his own projects. After he left, more artists came to live in Mill Hill. “We offered another longer-term residency to Forrest Gard and Jeni Hansen Gard,” Olive said. “They were a husband and wife team of ceramicists who specialize in integrating public participation into art. They lived in Mill Hill for 18 months completing tons of activities including a summer of free kids programming in the Community Arts Center.” While there is no one currently living at Mill Hill, the houses are on the market for sale. The Macon Arts Alliance hopes to fill these homes with artists in order to bring art and creativity into this community. “The Mill Hill initiative will empower local artists and neighbors to fight blight, identify and develop existing creative assets and create a plan based on a shared vision for the future of the neighborhood as a creative place to live, work and play,” according to their website.
With the holiday season coming up, Macon is going to be a hotbed of artistic and cultural events. There will be activities for everyone, from festivals to food trucks to fire breathers, all in the heart of the city. First Friday in Downtown Macon Although NewTown Macon hosts First Friday every month, November’s event will be one for the books. Newtown will be hosting a Garage Meet-Up, a rooftop drive up party on Mulberry Street, and Comic Book Plus and Reboot will host a Halloween party. There will also be events for the entire family at The Grand Opera House, The Macheran Art Center, Macon Arts Alliance and 576 Center for Renewal. Movie Night at the Ballpark Macon’s Baseball team, Macon Bacon, will be hosting a movie night at the ballpark on Saturday, Nov. 9, showing “The Sandlot” from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Instead of having a cover charge, Macon Bacon is asking for donations for Loaves & Fishes. You can donate items like nonperishable foods, baby diapers and laundry detergent at the gate. Vegan Fall Festival in Tattnall Square Park On Saturday, Nov. 16, Harmony_Vibes and Macon Vegans will be hosting a vegan Fall Festival in Tattnall Square Park. Local vendors will set up at 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. selling vegan food, jewelry and beauty products. The Cider Social at The Society Garden On Nov. 23, the Society Garden will be hosting a cider and pie pairing event. This Cider Social will be family friendly; there will be a magic show for children as well as cake walk. Activities will be held from noon to midnight and will feature live music. Main Street Christmas Light Extravaganza in Downtown Macon Every year, Downtown Macon glows during the holiday season. Hosted this year by Northway Church, Macon will once again be doused in light. The Light Extravaganza will kick off this year on Nov. 29 and will feature live music from MaconPops! and other local artists. The city will light up at 6 p.m. and will stay lit until Jan. 3. There will also be several different events hosted by Northway Church and Downtown Macon. There is certainly a lot to check out in the next month to get the community ready for the holiday season.
The Jazz Association of Macon will be hosting their 16th annual Jazz and Arts on Riverdale Festival on Oct. 26. Every year, musicians, artists and patrons gather to listen to music, eat food and celebrate the diverse art culture of Macon. This year, there are four bands on the line up. These bands include Bravo!, Phillips Jazzy Jazz Band, Jam All Stars and Son Jazzy Latin Jazz Orchestra. The featured artist for the festival will be Arrin Freeman. Freeman is a local artist, specializing in paintings and pet portraits. The festival will host food trucks, a family friendly kids art corner and several art vendors selling prints, paintings, jewelry, pottery, trinkets and gems. Proceeds from the event will go toward the Jazz Association of Macon, which sponsors scholarships in music for students across Middle Georgia. The Jazz Association of Macon has three scholarships available for middle school, high school and college students. These scholarships help foster and facilitate musical abilities among young students in Bibb County and the surrounding area. The scholarships help pay for instruments, equipment, music lessons or summer band camp. The Jazz and Arts on Riverdale Festival will take place on Riverdale Drive in Macon Georgia. The event will start at 12 p.m. and end at 6 p.m.
This August marks professor Chelsea Rathburn’s first semester at Mercer as the newest addition to the English department. Rathburn is originally from Miami, Florida, and came to Mercer from Young Harris College in northern Georgia. At Young Harris, she worked the creative writing department alongside her husband. In addition to being a professor, Rathburn is also a published poet who now has three collections of poetry. Rathburn has always known she wanted to have a career in English and writing. She has been writing poems since she was a child, influenced by childhood favorites like Shel Silverstein and Edgar Allen Poe. She was also heavily influenced by literary magazines. Her love for reading stems from her childhood. Rathburn said her mother used to take her to the library almost every day during the week. Each day, Rathburn would check out stacks of books that she would devour, only to go back the next day to grab another stack. “There was this world of literature, this world of books I could get into,” Rathburn said. Originally, Rathburn thought that she was going to be a fiction writer. When she went to college, however, she decided to take an introductory poetry class that she heard about while standing in the English office at Florida State University. “I ran home to the dorm and signed up, and I got in,” she said. Since completing her undergraduate degree, Rathburn has published three collections of poetry. Her first collection, “The Shifting Line,” was published when she was still in graduate school. “(My first poetry book was a) grab bag that I started in graduate school,” Rathburn said. [pullquote speaker="Chelsea Rathburn, professor of English and Georgia Poet Laureate" photo="" align="right" background="on" border="all" shadow="on"]You hear a lot of no’s. It’s kind of like talking into the void … does my voice matter?[/pullquote] Her second book, “A Raft of Grief,” was published in 2013. This collection features poems that were published in magazines like The Atlantic and brought Rathburn more notice. The collection follows Rathburn’s first marriage and explores themes such as grief and alcoholism. “The poems were a way to figure out how to write about things that you don’t want to outright say, or by naming names,” Rathburn said. “(It plays with the) stories we make out of our lives and the way that places can transport us, or not.” Her latest collection is titled “Still Life with Mother and Knife,” and was published in 2019. In this book, Rathburn writes poems about motherhood, the female body, maternal fear and trauma, and it also contains a series of poems based on a painting of Madea. This collection serves as a distancing ground for Rathburn to talk about topics such as postpartum and the way that it looks and functions differently for every person. Rathburn said publishing can become a bit of a drag when it comes to poetry. As with publishing fiction, there can be a lot of criticism, and oftentimes no criticism at all. “You hear a lot of no’s,” Rathburn said. “It’s kind of like talking into the void … does my voice matter?” Rathburn found that her voice does matter. In March of 2019, Rathburn was named Poet Laureate of the state of Georgia. While her job is mostly ceremonial, Rathburn does serve on the Georgia Council for the Arts and as a literary ambassador for the literary arts in the state of Georgia. Recently, Rathburn’s poetry has gained quite a bit of popularity. Her works have been featured in magazines like The Atlantic, Southern Review and Poetry Magazine, but Rathburn said she is more proud of the poems that impact others than the poems that land national magazines. “(I’m) interested in poems finding the readers who need them … Sometimes I have poems that appear in small places, and it’s cool to have people message and say ‘I needed this poem,’” Rathburn said. Rathburn is currently working on her next project: a collection of poems centered around Florida and creating a project centered around Miami, her hometown. Rathburn is hoping to begin this research for her new projects this year, and hopes to focus on her work over the summer.
“Frozen, Jr.” is taking the stage in Middle Georgia. The junior version of the Broadway musical was made available for production recently. Now that it has been released, Theatre Macon director Richard Frazier has snagged the rights to this popular show. The show has only become available in the last year, according to the Music Theatre International’s website. Since its release, there has been an explosion of interest; there will be 20 productions of the show all over the United States within the next three months. “We are actually the third group to produce Disney’s ‘Frozen, Jr.,’ but we are the first to produce it with full costumes, sets and special effects,” Frazier said. Being one of the first theatre groups to produce “Frozen, Jr.,” Theatre Macon has gained some celebrity attention. Brooklyn Nelson, the actor who plays young Elsa in the original Broadway production of “Frozen,” sent a short, 13-second video to Theatre Macon to wish them good luck during the run of their show. “I work closely with many theatre professionals from around the country, and I reached out to a friend who worked with the young Anna and young Elsa in the original Broadway production,” Frazier said. “I asked if she thought if either of the young ladies would be interested in sending a ‘break a leg’ video to our cast, and we are so grateful they did. The cast was so excited, and it really gave them an extra jolt of energy before their second performance on Saturday.” “Frozen, Jr.” is being produced by Theatre Macon’s Youth Actor Company (YAC). The show stars YAC alumni Ella Trotter as Elsa and Anna Buckroth as Anna. The production process started in the summer; auditions were held in July and the cast has been in rehearsal since the middle of August. Frazier said they took about two weeks to learn the music, then two weeks to perfect the choreography and blocking. After that, they started to include technical elements like lighting, sound and costumes. Costume designer Shelley Kuhen has been working on the show since August alongside her design team members Katie Trotter, Logan Best and Kayla Astin, who is also Kuhen’s granddaughter. The team has hand-crafted almost all of the costume pieces for this show, including a hand-embroidered and hand-painted dress for Anna and a magnetized breakaway dress for Elsa. “The magnetized dress was sewn to look like two pieces, but was actually one piece that has magnet buttons down the front,” Kuhen said. “When it came time for Elsa to reveal the ice dress, she rips off the magnetized dress and someone from underneath the stairs whisks it away to show the ice dress underneath.” The show opened Sept. 27 and had a great turnout; several of the shows sold out throughout the run. Frazier said he is very excited to share this work with everyone in the Macon community. “It has been wonderful to be in the theatre with parents bringing their children to see what could possibly be their first live performance anywhere, and they are choosing to come to Theatre Macon,” he said. While Frazier and the design team have taken inspiration from the Broadway and movie versions of the show, there have also been design elements incorporated that make this show unique to Theatre Macon. “Something that really makes this show exciting is that we utilize four snow cannons as well as many other special effects. We are also using video projections for the production, which really allows us to create some theatre and movie magic,” Frazier said. “We’ve had a blast bringing this production to life, but also giving it our own Theatre Macon touch.” Tickets for future productions at Theatre Macon can be purchased through their website.
Made famous for her song “Born to Die” and then for “Summertime Sadness,” Lana del Rey has been a household name for almost eight years. Whether you love her music or hate it, Del Rey has carved out a name for herself in the music industry, making her voice distinctly recognizable. Del Rey has produced six major studio albums. Her newest creation was released in August 2019. Titled “Norman F***ing Rockwell!,” the album features 14 songs, each one unique in both their length and content. In preparation for the album debut, Del Rey released a few songs early, such as “Venice B**ch,” which clocks in at a whopping six minutes, and “Mariner’s Apartment Complex,” a romantic song with a slow and gentle beat. As is the case with most of Del Rey’s music, this album has nostalgic and soothing vibes. From the title song “Norman f***ing Rockwell,” to “Happiness is a Butterfly,” Del Rey crafts a lovely, dreamy beat with lyrics that sound equal parts romantic and sad. Some of her earlier work has often been criticized for being insincere. Several critics accuse Del Rey of crafting a persona who often relates to things that have nothing to do with her actual life. One such critic was Ann Powers, a writer for NPR who calls Del Rey’s persona, “a bad girl to whom bad things are done.” This album, however, seems to follow “Lust for Life” thematically and musically, and seems like it is more true to who she actually is. The album seems to go beyond the persona that Del Rey has crafted, and instead tries to broach new subjects. Del Rey seems to have taken a different route from albums like “Born to Die” and “Ultraviolence,” actually giving listeners a peek into her inner life. The songs on “Norman F***ing Rockwell” seem more introspective and genuine, and seem to reveal aspects of her actual life and experiences. The album features songs like “Cinnamon Girl” and “Love Song,” which are romantic and catchy with sentimental lyrics that get stuck in your head for days. Aside from romantic and sentimental songs, Del Rey also delves into past romance to make comments on the current political climate and the complexity of living in today’s society. In “Norman F****ing Rockwell,” Del Rey comments on the patriarchy of society, which is a big departure from her old Gatsby-esque, patriotic style. She is no longer praising the good ‘ole days of America, but is instead trying to show how we can’t necessarily live that kind of life anymore, saying in “Mariner’s Apartment Complex,” “When everyone's talking, you can make a stand.” “Norman F***ing Rockwell!” is Del Rey’s attempt at adding her voice to the chorus, carving a place for herself in the changing world that we live in. The album is thoughtful, sentimental and romantic, but also seems to delve deeper than much of her previous music, allowing us to understand her in a way that we haven’t been able to before. Del Ray decided to take a risk with “Norman F***ing Rockwell,” and it paid off. So far the album has been a pretty big success, and hopefully Del Rey will continue showing more of this new side of her music.
Preview: Macon Wine and Arts Festival to feature boozy bake sale, celebrity chefs, cocktails and more
Get ready for a weekend filled with wine, great art and pastries because the Macon Wine and Arts Festival will be making its sophomore debut. It will run Sept. 26-28, and will be hosted by the Mill Hill Community Arts Center and organized by the Macon Arts Alliance. Events will include three days of wine tastings, art exhibits and a boozy bake sale. The Festival was created by the Macon Arts Alliance in order to bring more attention to the art community in Macon and to draw people together. Marketing Coordinator Kathy Nolan said she is excited to be involved in this year’s event. “As one of our primary programs, Macon Arts Alliance … has been a leader in restoring, funding and providing arts and community programming,” Nolan said. The event will only be open to those who are 21 or older. Thursday will kick off opening night with a silent auction at the Hay House, as well as a toast and taste. The opening event will cost $40 per ticket. Friday night will feature a boozy bake sale, celebrity pastry chefs and cocktail pairings. Tickets to Friday’s events are $20. Saturday will include a wine tasting event, art exhibits, appetizers and a DJ. Tickets to Saturday’s festivities will be $40. During each event, several pieces of local art will be on display for purchase. Nolan said there will be “original ceramic and hand-blown wine glasses and visual art … available for sale at Mill Hill (Community Arts Center) on Friday and Saturday.” Tickets for each event can be purchased through the Macon Arts Alliance website or through the festival’s Facebook page. Tickets can be purchased individually or as a pass for $75. Aside from the silent auction, all of the events will be taking place at the Mill Hill Community Arts Center, located in downtown Macon on Clinton Street. For more information about the event, visit the Facebook event page.
Taylor Swift has been making music since she was 16 years old. Considering that she’ll be 30 in December, she’s been making music for longer than it takes someone to go through elementary school, middle school and high school combined. Throughout the years, she has crafted seven studio albums that have been the soundtrack to so many people’s lives. Whether you love her music or not, you've got to admit that Swift knows how to create a catchy song. Her latest album, “Lover,” was released Aug. 23 and is chock full of catchy beats. Swift has often been criticized for making songs that are direct references to exes, making it seem like she is only capable of writing songs like “Dear John” or “Style.” On “Lover,” Swift tries to explain that she’s grown up a little bit. The music on this album has an odd mixture of growing up while also retaining classic Taylor Swift themes. She isn’t just writing pointed songs about her exes anymore like she did on “Speak Now” and “Fearless,” but instead, attempts to tackle more grown up topics like self-love, her mother’s illness and actually falling (and staying) in love. “Lover” is similar to “1989” in the sense that there are lots of highs and lows during the album, but it seems like the “grown-up” version. In the titular song on her “Red” album, Swift describes loving her partner as “red” and “ending so suddenly.” In “Daylight,” the last song on “Lover,” Swift seems to have found a new approach to how she sees love. “Lover” is an interesting album because of the way Swift is trying to escape the persona she crafted during her “Reputation” album. While there are definitely some songs that resemble her last album like “I Forgot You Existed,” there are also some songs that pay homage to her even older work, such as “Paper Rings.” She isn’t trying to be “New Taylor” or “Old Taylor,” but is instead trying to find some sort of middle ground between both personas. Sitting and listening through 18 tracks of Taylor Swift was definitely an experience. Listening to all of the songs on her album at once was both a little frustrating and entertaining; while her songs don’t necessarily tell a solid story throughout the entire album, each song itself contained a story. Taylor has definitely done some growing up, but this album makes her seem more like a real person instead of just a pop icon. She gets personal in these songs. While I might not sit down and listen to the whole album again in one sitting, I definitely will be adding some of these songs to a few of my Spotify playlists.
There seems to be a strange dichotomy between science and the arts, but Mercer sophomore Avery Lario straddles these two worlds with both grace and poise. Lario has always loved art. From a young age, her mother encouraged her artwork by putting her in lessons, supporting her decision to create art in high school and encouraging her to pursue art in college. “She always wanted me to be an artist. She’s always been very supportive of that,” Lario said. “When I was a kid and she realized that I was interested in art, she immediately started putting me in art lessons, and that support really facilitated (my love for art.)” Lario mainly specializes in visual art, with a special preference for painting and drawing. Her art style is influenced by a lot of different types of art styles, but the most influential style on her artwork has been surrealism. Some of her favorite surrealist artists include Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keefe. Lario did art all throughout high school, and has had several works displayed over the years. “In high school, I had a couple of pieces displayed at the student section of Dogwood (Art Festival) two years in a row. I also had some pieces displayed at the All State Symposium,” Lario said. Although she was previously only majoring in art, Lario has recently decided to pursue nursing while minoring in art. Lario said that while some people think that there is really no way for a person to be involved in both art and science, she has found that her science classes have helped her art. “Since I do love to paint anatomy and I’m pre-nursing, one interest feeds the other,” Lario said. “The more I paint, the more I want to learn, the more I learn, the more I want to paint.” Originally, Lario had been a little nervous about the culture around the art department at Mercer, because it’s not primarily an art school. Professor Eric O’Dell is the one who showed Lario around Mercer’s art facilities, and helped her realize that she could have a successful art career at Mercer. “A lot of people will try to convince you that you have to go to an art school,” Lario said. “You can have your art career anywhere … but there are people here who want to see me succeed in this.” One of Lario’s favorite art classes has definitely been a painting class with O’Dell. Lario said she is looking forward to continuing to take art classes here, and is especially excited for junior and senior design studio classes. This summer, Lario was able to travel with the art department to Greece to study abroad. “That was really eye-opening and developmental for me as an artist," Lario said. "Some of my favorite projects were being able to sit in front of such amazing pieces of artwork and kind of feel the energies of them while I sketched them." After graduating from Mercer, Lario would love to get her master of fine arts degree or a Ph.D. in art. For freshmen, or others who might be scared about pursuing art as a career, Lario leaves this bit of advice: “Just let yourself have fun. You don’t have to be making big social statements to have successful artwork. You don’t have to be the most talented in the room to enjoy yourself. Art is a language. You may not speak the language that the other person next to you is creating, but you speak your own.”
Pianist Amelia Rivers, a freshman, is a Music Arts major as well as an English major. Rivers’ musical inclinations don’t end with the piano, however. She is also a vocalist, and a member of Mercer’s top choral ensemble, the Mercer Singers. An active member of both the Townsend School of Music and the College of Liberal Arts, Rivers finds that being a part of both schools at Mercer is something that she really loves. “I’m a big advocate for a liberal arts education, and I find that my music studies blend into my English studies more often than I expect,” Rivers said. In class, Rivers studied William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest” around the same time that she was learning how to play Beethoven’s “Tempest Sonata.” “There are surprisingly so many parallels,” Rivers said. “In the sonata, there’s a lot of dynamic contrast. And what is Shakespeare’s “(The) Tempest”? It’s a tragedy, and a comedy, no one’s really sure what box to put it in. Same with Beethoven’s piece.” Rivers has been playing piano for about eight years. Her sister also plays, and her family has always been very supportive of Rivers’ love of the arts. Rivers said she decided to attend Mercer because it has not only a wonderful music program, but also because of its English department. “Mercer is a very strong liberal arts school. It’s the only school within my means that had a very strong music program and a very strong English program. I don’t really like to split myself when it comes to what I love,” Rivers said. Some of Rivers’ musical inspirations include composers such as Howard Shore and Chopin, as well as more contemporary artists like Twenty One Pilots. She enjoys listening not only to classical music, but also rock and roll. “I love classic rock, grunge. Anything with good lyrics combined with good music. That’s what really can strengthen a modern piece,” Rivers said. Rivers is not sure yet if she will plan on pursuing a career in music. As a first-year student, she wants to keep her options open for now. Since she will graduate with a degree in English as well as music, she is considering becoming a teacher. “I know music will always be a part of me. This education will never leave. I may not be the next John Williams, I may not be the next Howard Shore, but I will always have that little piece to carry,” Rivers said. Rivers’ ultimate goal would be able to travel and play music all over the world, and she plans to apply for scholarships through Phi Beta Kappa and Fulbright. She said she would also like to go to graduate school and then either teach at the collegiate or high school level, or become a composer. Rivers is a big fan of the liberal arts, and would recommend any person who is thinking about going into something like music to just try it out. “If you love it, you love it. And you just gotta do it. You’ll find a way. Go to class, even those 8 a.m. classes for musicianship… try not to push yourself too hard. Remember that you’re a person and you have needs beyond the music,” Rivers said. “Sleep, eat and enjoy!”
The Middle Georgia Art Association (MGAA) is hosting a new art exhibit titled “Macon” from March 15 until April 12. The exhibit features both photography and paintings from artists all over Macon. The idea for the exhibit was created by the board of directors at the Middle Georgia Arts Association. The board then pitched the idea to several members of the Association. After the idea was decided upon, MGAA put out a call for artists about four weeks before the opening of the exhibit. The exhibit itself features photographs and paintings with the common theme of “Macon.” Theresa Trail, the gallery manager of MGAA, said that each piece of art in the exhibit somehow features certain elements of Macon. “This particular exhibit is about anything to do with Macon, from architecture to culture, to everyday life in Macon,” Trail said. One of the artists who is being featured in this exhibit is photographer Gilbert Lee. Lee is a Macon native and has been taking pictures since he was five years old. Though he has had work featured in the Morrison Hotel Galleries and in galleries in Maui, Hollywood and New York, Lee is very excited to have his work featured in the “Macon” exhibit. “I do a lot of music-related photography using various digital cameras and lenses,” Lee said. “More and more you'll see me strolling around town making photographs with my mobile phone or my Fuji X100F.” The photo that Lee entered in the competition at the Middle Georgia Art Association was taken with his mobile camera and won first place in photography. Almost all of the artists being featured at this exhibit are Macon natives who took part in this particular exhibit because they wanted to showcase the beauty of this town. The “Macon” exhibit is free to the public at the Middle Georgia Art Association on Ingleside Avenue. Their hours are on Tuesday - Friday from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturday from 12 p.m. until 3 p.m.
Senior Julia Swain is an artist in more ways than one. Although she is mostly involved in the music school and plays viola for the McDuffie Center for Strings, she has also become more involved in Mercer’s visual arts program. Swain has been involved in the arts from a very young age. She began playing the violin at age six, and then at age 10 she began her lessons with the viola. A Chicago native, Swain decided on Mercer and Macon mostly for the McDuffie Center for Strings. Not only was she impressed by the program itself, but she found the teachers very inspiring. “I heard about this school because of the amazing faculty, actually. When I had a lesson with my viola teacher after auditions, I really appreciated her teaching style,” Swain said. “I felt like she wanted me to be the best musician I wanted to be for myself, not necessarily as her product.” Swain’s parents have always been very supportive of her involvement in the arts. Although she is the only one in her family pursuing music professionally, Swain’s father also has a deep love for music. “My dad does play fiddle at the Farmer’s Market and he likes fun instruments like the mandolin and banjo, but it’s all for fun,” Swain said. Swain wants to continue her career in music after graduation. She plans on doing some internships and nonprofit work in India, teaching rhythm to children that are underserved as a means of emotional expression through music. “I make music because I use it as a way to communicate and connect with not only other people, but the world,” Swain said. While Swain enjoys playing around the different campus venues, she really enjoys playing around the city and being able to connect with the people in Macon. “I really enjoyed playing at Daybreak in Macon. The audience at Daybreak is really special to me because they listen to music without any kind of formal training or critique that I’m expecting from my peers,” Swain said. "The way that they respond and the way that I respond to them and the way we communicate together is really special. That’s why I love music.” As for art, Swain really appreciates the help of professor Eric O’Dell, who has been encouraging her this semester in her painting class. Although she has always been artistic, she feels like being in this class has helped her understand herself and her style a lot better. “When I first started his class, I had never had any formal training. But he’s so encouraging of our own styles and improving based on where we’ve come from and not compared to someone who’s been painting for 20 or 30 years,” Swain said. Swain encourages those who are thinking about pursuing art to just try it out. “Music and art are such wonderful things to have in your life, and they’re all around you, even if you’re not actively pursuing it. Music and art are what you make them, and they can be your whole world if you just look through a different lens,” Swain said. Swain will hold her senior recital for the viola in Fickling Hall on April 8 at 1 p.m.
A man of many talents, Joey Stuckey is not only a Mercer graduate and professor of Music Technology at Mercer, but he is also a nationally recognized musician. Stuckey has released over six albums, has opened for several big name bands and is also the official music ambassador for Macon. To celebrate the release of his newest album, Stuckey will be performing at Amici in Mercer Landing March 29. He will be performing new music from his album at this release party. The new album, titled “In the Shadow of the Sun,” has a Progressive Americana feel, Stuckey said. “It covers country, roots, blues, jazz and progressive rock. There is certainly a heavy element of southern influences with a fairly strong blues base,” Stuckey said. Stuckey’s agent said that there will be an opportunity to sign up to be a part of Stuckey’s mailing list and be entered to win a Morley GTR pedal valued at $280. The music will start around 8 p.m. at Amici and the concert will last until 11 p.m. Fans will be able to listen to his music while also enjoying the food at Amici. Fans of Stuckey will also be able to purchase CDs and other merchandise at the release party. “(There will be) CDs and T-shirt’s with my avatar, which is a blind stick figure with a giant guitar—his name is Blink,” Stuckey said. “We also have buttons, download cards and we are hoping that our vinyl order will arrive in time.” Before the concert begins, fans will have the opportunity to buy this merchandise and have it autographed by Stuckey. If they cannot make it before 8 p.m., Stuckey is also staying a little after the show to sign autographs and other various merchandise items. The concert will be free for students, and Stuckey welcomes anyone and everyone to come on down to Amici to listen to his new music and have a great night!
The Macon Arts Alliance is hosting an art exhibit for the second year in a row named “Drawn to Macon 2”. The exhibit centers around the ideas of the different types of drawing, and mainly focuses on art that pushes the boundaries of what has previously been done. This exhibit features art from several local artists and art professors, including Mercer’s own Craig Coleman. “The works in the show all use drawing techniques but push the boundaries of common notions of how a drawing is defined,” Coleman said. Last year, the exhibit was featured at the Macon Art Gallery and presented the works of over 10 artists in the Macon area. This year, only six artists were featured at the exhibit. These artists are Craig Coleman, Craig Hawkins, Kalina Winska, Luke Buffenmeyer, Laurel Robinson and William Avenel. The inspiration behind the exhibit was centered on questioning conventions. Coleman explained that he and the other artists are trying to push the boundaries of what is considered standard or typical drawing. “The artists in the show and myself are trying to make work that gets people to see the category of art called "drawing" in a new or different way. One that breaks with their expectations,” Coleman said. The event opened on Feb. 1 and is set to run until Feb. 22. It is being held at the Macon Arts Gallery on First Street in downtown Macon and is free to the public. You can learn more about this exhibit by finding the event on Facebook.