SRU’s Kaleidoscope Arts Festival connects people to art and each other


Kaleidoscope Arts Festival, April 11 - 27

Slippery Rock University’s Kaleidoscope Arts Festival takes place April 11-27 with more than 30 dance, theater, music, literary and visual arts events for people of all ages.

April 8, 2019

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — For many reasons, the film "Faces Places" epitomizes the spirit of Slippery Rock University's Kaleidoscope Arts Festival. A 2018 Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Feature, the film follows directors Agnes Varda, 89, and JR, 33, who travel around rural France creating portraits of people they meet, displaying them on houses, barns, storefronts and trains to reveal the humanity in their subjects.

"The film is about connecting with people and how art in a community can inspire conversations and inspire relationships, and that's what we're trying to do with our festival," said Deanna Brookens, SRU assistant professor of theatre, who is entering her fifth year as director of the festival that returns in 2019 for its 18th year. "My hope is to have this film represent something the campus and community can rally around, and having it early (in the festival) will allow people to contemplate the message as the festival continues the next two weeks."

The Kaleidoscope Arts Festival will take place April 11-27 and feature more than 30 dance, theater, music, literary and visual arts events. The festival goal is to bring free or low cost quality programming to the surrounding area, which is relatively underserved by the arts.

"When you see art and empathize with characters, you become moved by it and that helps make you a better person," Brookens said. "But also, when we come together as a community, it makes everyone stronger. That's why it's important for us to offer diverse, high-quality programming every year."

Brookens headshot


There will be a free screening of "Faces Places" at 6 p.m., April 16, in the Smith Student Center Theater. The film, which is in French with English subtitles, shares not only Agnes' and JR's heartwarming encounters with locals but also their own unlikely friendship.

A hallmark of the festival, according to Brookens, is incorporating student work and projects into programs. For "Faces Places," art students, under the direction of instructor Jamie Hunt, will gather photos taken of SRU students, faculty and staff from a photo booth that will be open in the SCC lobby, 2-4 p.m., April 11, to create an exhibit in the SCC lobby prior to the screening to celebrate the theme of the film. Photos from a second photo booth - located at the Slippery Rock Giant Eagle and featuring community members that wish to take part - will also be included.

Other featured programs include a residency with visual contemporary Haida artist Michael Nicole Yahgulanaas, which will include two of his presentations, "Art as Resistance: Haida Sovereignty, History and Politics," 12:30 p.m., April 18, in the Spotts World Culture Building, Room 111, and "Haida Manga and Graphic Novels," 1 p.m., April 19, at the Alumni House. Haida art is associated with traditions of the North Pacific indigenous nation and ethnic group and Haida Manga is a contemporary style of art that blends Haida iconographies and frame lines with the graphic dynamism of Asian "manga," which is a Japanese word for comics and cartooning. The residency is sponsored by the festival, SRU's National American Studies Series, the College of Liberal Arts and the English and Philosophy departments.

"(Un)gender(ing) Dance," 7 p.m., April 22, at the SSC Ballroom, is a program that will welcome back a popular performer from last year's festival, Donald Shorter, assistant professor of dance from Sam Houston State University. He will be joined by SRU faculty performers Jesse Factor, instructor of dance, and Lindsay Viatori, assistant professor of dance, as they conduct separate performances that exhibit their creative research around the constructs of gender.

"This was one of the most inspiring acts from last year and we are excited to bring it back again this year, especially by adding two SRU dance professors who explored gender in their work," Brookens said. "These are three dancers who are at the heights of their careers and they are such amazing performers. We have a lot of departments collaborating on projects this year because they've identified the festival as an exciting event that they want to take part in."

"(Un)gender(ing) Dance" is sponsored by the festival, the President's Commission on Race and Ethnic Diversity, the Frederick Douglass Institute, the Department of Dance and the Gender Studies Program.

Justseeds Artists' Cooperative will host an artist talk, 12:30 p.m., April 23, at the SSC Theater, before conducting a printmaking workshop at 2 p.m. in the Art Building's Printmaking Studio. Justseeds is a group of 29 artists who create prints and graphics in support of movements for social and environmental justice. The cooperative has artists all across North America and there's a distribution headquarters in Pittsburgh. Mary Tremonte of Justseeds will lead a talk to share the cooperative's many projects that use graphics and screen printing, including art builds and thematic print portfolios. Participants in the workshop can create screen prints with their own hand-cut graphics or images from the Justseeds collection.

Kaleidoscope Arts Festival, April 11 - 27

Another Pittsburgh-based group, Steel City Improv Theater, will perform an entirely made-up show in the practice of improvisation comedy at 7 p.m., April 25, in the SCC Theater. Four of the group's performers will develop multiple scenes, characters and ridiculous spectacles that are bounded only by the actors' imaginations.

"Comedy is an amazing coping mechanism that can help us navigate life, especially with finals week approaching shortly after the event," Brookens said. "There are few things that bring people together like laughter. You're in a room with other people and experiencing this particular show that will never happen again and everyone gets to experience that together."

Opening for Steel City Improv Theater will be Rock 'em Sock 'em Improv, the student improvisation club at SRU.

Culminating the two-week festival will be what Brookens calls her favorite day of the year, Children's Earth Day Celebration and EarthFest, noon to 6 p.m., April 27, at Macoskey Center. The annual event is a community-oriented celebration that includes arts and crafts, a petting zoo, horseback rides, games and activities for children, music and theater performances, as well as sustainability-focused activities for people of all ages.

For more details, including admission information, and a complete schedule of events, click here, or follow the Kaleidoscope Arts Festival on Facebook ( and Twitter (@sruartsfest).

MEDIA CONTACT: Justin Zackal | 724.738.4854 |