Starting on the hour, students, faculty and staff are given a full 24 hours to create a piece of artwork, allowing them to work through the night and give way to creative visions.
At 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 11, approximately 70 eager artists collected their prompt packets for the 9th Annual 24-Hour Festival.
When creating their work, whether it is a film, piece of music, dance or sculpture, artists are required to incorporate key elements into their creation.
The prompt states that they need: a necessary sentence fragment, “…tease it, tangle it, and dip it in warm honey”; a plot fragment, “the subject of your work confuses something for something entirely different”; a necessary theme, “ambiguity is the kind of chaos you can love”; and required random objects, “a box of fog, a moon, a face where it shouldn’t be, a silence, a cereal or serial, a scratch, a propeller, a quote, and 2 against 3.”
Winners of the festival will have their work on display in the ArtLab from Thursday, Sept. 17 through Tuesday, Oct. 1.
Artist Julian Montalvo, a senior double majoring in communication and philosophy, began his work in the lobby of the Arts Complex, donning a wide-brimmed black hat and matching shift dress.
“I’m obsessed with ideas of narcissism and how those are motivators for action,” Montalvo said. “I like how narcissism is the force that almost makes self-love manifest within society… the medium is going to be ink, water, sweat and my own blood. I’m going to spend probably all night in the garage, or somewhere on campus, and just make myself write.” His poetic piece is titled “Kneeling at the Alter of My Narcissism,” and it includes a roughly 300-page love poem to his self, in what Montalvo calls the ultimate act of narcissism. Montalvo is a spoken word poet and has performed for the Open Mic Nights at the ArtLab. He finds that some of the hardest poetry that he has had to write is poetry about, none other than, himself.
Montalvo worked for about two hours, and when I checked on him at 8 p.m., he had strewn the materials he planned to use all around him.
“There’s ink, sweat, water and my saliva,” Montalvo said, as he listened to an Icelandic group called Sigur-Ros. “And then this is blood, water and cigarettes. Those are, for me, the seeds of my narcissism — my own blood, my body. Cigarettes because that’s the hedonist in me, I smoke excessively. Ink because I’m a writer. Saliva because that’s what I use to talk, that’s part of my speech, and water because that is the closest thing I could get to alcohol.”
I went on to leave Montalvo for the night so that I wouldn’t distract him from his sleepless labor. He texted me pictures of changes in his environment and how he was feeling at certain points of the night. I would check my phone to see texts reading, “Moved over to the garage to get complete silence and really focus” and “Good morning! I worked solidly ‘til about 5 a.m…. moved over to the corridor right where Starbucks is… I wanna be first in line when they open haha.”
The second artist of the night who I chose to follow was senior Simon Huebler, an art major. He is the lead artist on a three-person team, with help from Wes Wickwire, a senior software engineering major, and Gianna Dubay, a junior community health major with a minor in art. Huebler shared the sketch of what he envisioned for his project with me, as well as let me photograph the process for the time I was with them.
The art piece is based on the well-known, hookah-smoking caterpillar from the timeless classic “Alice In Wonderland” by Lewis Caroll. In order to fit the required element of “a face where it shouldn’t be” into his work, Huebler had Wickwire lie on a table and covered his face with a skin-safe molding, then let it dry for 20 minutes. Occasionally, we would ask if Wickwire was doing well and if he could breathe. He would give us a thumbs up.
Afterward, once the molding of his face was created, I asked what is was like having the mixture on and only being able to breathe through a few straws.
“It was honestly not as bad as you’d think, it’s… I don’t know,” Wickwire said. “The worst part was not being able to swallow because your nose is clogged and your mouth… you don’t really have much space. That was the only really freaky part, but other than that it was kind of relaxing. I just kind of listened to music and laid back.”
I had never seen a plasma cutter until Huebler brought one out to carve a sheet of steel for his piece. We put on special goggles to dim the bright light of the beam while Huebler cut away a crescent moon shape into a large road construction sign.
I said goodbye to the team and had them keep me updated on their progress. Dubay sent me pictures of Huebler welding metal pieces together and the final cast of the face mold.
Huebler also sent me a brief audio message.
“We’re pretty far in; we have most of the quote finished,” Huebler said. “We’re about four or five cups of tea in, listening to Arctic Monkeys… It’s just a lot of work. We’re pretty tired now, going to go get some sleep and come back strong tomorrow morning.”
I went to bed that night and woke up this morning at 8 a.m. with enough time to get back to the Arts Complex by 10 a.m.
I checked in with both of my artists to see how they were progressing. Montalvo had about 140 pages of his love letter written, and the change in environment is apparent in his words. Starting off very brash and angry, his poem has softened into a more calm state, as he has become more tired throughout this project.
Huebler was welding more supports to his sculpture when I stepped into the workroom. I stood behind a large, blacked-out sheet of plastic used to cut the contact of the welding tools and anyone watching. I peeked my camera over the top of the sheet and snapped crisp photos of Huebler at work, sparks flying around him.
With both artists bringing their pieces over to the garage, it was time for the judging. I took pictures of Montalvo and Huebler by their work, and asked them how they felt about the final project. There was a general theme of relief, anticipation of the judges, and excitement.
At the end of all of the performances of the night, the winners were announced, almost 30 hours after the crowd of artists, musicians and actors were given their prompt. I was very excited to see that Huebler has won first prize for his visual art piece, and was proud of Montalvo for his hard work and dedication to his piece.
First prize and exhibition prize winners are on the FGCU 24 Hour Festival Facebook page.
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