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Arts & Culture

Ten Can’t-Miss Features at NextNOW Fest 2021

Annual UMD Arts Extravaganza Returns With Immersive Projections, Art-Making Workshops and Outdoor Music Pop-ups

By Jessica Weiss ’05

NextNOW Fest

The eighth annual NextNOW Fest runs all this week with an expanded in-person format as a signature component of the Arts for All initiative.

Photo by David Andrews

Technology that makes colors dance to a musical beat. Painting on water. And a “silent” disco party.

This year’s NextNOW Fest, a weeklong arts experience kicking off today, welcomes the University of Maryland community to enjoy the arts in person and in bold, unusual and mind-stretching ways at venues across campus and beyond.

The eighth annual event expands on the fests of years past and is a cornerstone of Arts for All, an initiative announced by university President Darryll J. Pines in April that aims to broaden the footprint of the arts across campus and galvanize collaborations between the arts, technology and social justice.

Presented and produced by The Clarice, NextNOW Fest features partnerships with UMD student-led groups, academic departments and community artists. Some 40 free performances, art installations and activities will be held in a wide range of spaces including the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Engineering, Stamp Student Union, Tawes Plaza, Parren J. Mitchell Art-Sociology Building and The Hall CP.

Selia Myers ’22, a music performance major who is pursuing minors in arts leadership and professional writing, is one of three students on the curating committee of NextNOW Fest. For nine months, the students have gained experience developing partnerships and working with a full time professional staff. Myers said this year’s event offers “something for everyone.”

“It’s really been up to the curators to go out and look into the world for creative practices we are inspired by,” she said. “There are opportunities for active forms of engagement with the arts and technology as well as more quiet spaces for students and campus community members to reconnect with each other and the campus after so long.”

Here are 10 festival highlights you won’t want to miss:

IMD performance

Immersive installations blending art and technology
UMD’s new immersive media design (IMD) major teaches students to use technologies like virtual and augmented reality, computer graphics, 3D modeling and more. At the new Brendan Iribe Center, festival goers can get a taste of what IMD students have been working on. For instance, Bryan Pinto’s “Within Reality” will let people choose a song and watch a colored silhouette spiral out with the beat of the music. And Cassiel Arcilla’s “Meditations” will provide a contemplative experience as projections react to music and movements. (Photo by David Andrews)

Pop-up musical performances
NextNOW Fest 2021 features pop-up music performances at venues across campus as part of Music for All Terps. Catch musical performances by student music groups the Terrapin Fellowship Brass Quintet, Thalea String Quartet or the Fellowship Woodwind Quintet.

Art-making workshops
Pyramid Atlantic Art Center, located on Route 1 in Hyattsville, fosters the creative disciplines of papermaking, printmaking and book arts. Now, through a partnership with Studio A at the Stamp Student Union, students will get the chance to create with makers from the center. They may choose to make a relief print—in which the surface is cut away so your image alone appears raised on the surface—at Stamp or experiment with the centuries-old process of painting on water for Suminagashi-style paper marbling at The Hall CP.

Community art with Bowie State University
Students from Bowie State University and UMD will create a large community collage. The event continues a partnership between the two universities that began with the Unity Mural project created during NextNOW Fest 2017.

Exhibitions galore
Several exhibitions are on display throughout the duration of NextNOW Fest. Among them: American Landscapes at the David C. Driskell Center highlights the overlooked Black artists in the American artistic tradition of landscape painting. At the Art Gallery, UMD’s world-class Department of Art faculty and adjunct faculty will display their work. And as part of Art Night, Spanish artist Daniel Canogar will show his work, “Amalgama Phillips.” In partnership with Washington D.C.’s Phillips Collection, the large-scale outdoor public projection explores how digital media is shifting our experience and understanding of art and the history of art.


A customized postcard souvenir
Stop by the UMD Farmers Market at Tawes Plaza and pick up a custom NextNOW Fest postcard printed on the spot by UMD’s BookLab, the English department’s makerspace, studio, library and community letterpress. (Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle)

A glimpse into the chaos—and hope—of the future
Be transported 100 years into the future with interactive kiosks from ARTECHOUSE’s Renewal 2121, an immersion into an industrial city where nature fights to survive in an overdeveloped metropolis. Amid the crisis, blossoms peek through the plastic, concrete and neon lights, ready to renew the season with the help of those willing to take action.

Participatory, public art
Illegal Art, founded in New York City in 2001, is a collective of artists whose goal is to create participatory-based public art to inspire self-reflection, thought and human connection. To help create this piece during NextNOW Fest, students will gather to write out their to-dos on sticky notes, which will create a massive public exhibit.

An outdoor dance party with a twist
Grab a set of wireless headphones and listen to one of two live DJs, both playing totally different musical styles. Those without the headphones hear no music, giving the surreal effect of a party full of people dancing to silence. (This event is open only to those with a UMD ID.)

Maryland Night Live performance

Laugh-out-loud comedy
Maryland Night Live is a group of UMD students who write and perform a comedy show inspired by “Saturday Night Live.” Other comedy events include performances from student groups Sketchup and Erasable Inc. (Photo courtesy of Maryland Night Live)

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