ArtFest and Earth Day Inspire a Wishful Community

Two students smile outside as ladybugs and lacewings pepper their arms and hands in the pollinator garden.
Jared Libby

Spring represents renewal. Blossoms peak from their seedlings and bud into colorful flowers dappling the countryside. The sweet aroma of freshly mowed grass and pine hovers in the cool breeze, a delightful sensation enhanced by the sunshine bathing your skin to generate a comfortable temperature outside. The season is changing, and with it, your excitement for the future.

Creativity courses in your veins as the vibrant foliage surrounds you like a soft blanket, building community and invigorating your commitment to higher education. The second annual ArtFest and Earth Day 2024 embody a conscientious campus culture desiring to revel in the students’ originality and the ancient planet we call home.

Never Wait for Inspiration

ArtFest highlights a collaboration among faculty, staff, and students to showcase how it enriches our lives inside and outside the classroom.

Bounteous events unfolded the week of April 15–18, like leaves from a storybook, turning to reveal the upcoming adventures and their settings: the V. James Eardley Student Center and three Sierra Building classrooms spruced to host honored guests, community members, faculty, staff, and students. This inclusive expo invited Northern Nevada residents to communicate with brilliant speakers. Whether they discussed voice, value, gender, mental health, or publicizing your work, Rebecca Solnit, writer, and Philip Chase, author, entrusted transparency and wisdom with those receptive individuals genuinely listening. Artistic festivities proceeded with an open mic, reciting their unique poems and prose, or an excerpt from their favorite novelist, to a hushed audience ruminating on its substance.

Undergraduate talent illuminated the Art Galleries at the Dandini Campus. Rainbow hues blended with pastel sculptures in the main showroom, like drifting within a picturesque space rift, the snow-white backdrops pining for your interpretation of the mounted and suspended creations they support. The 50th Annual Student Art and Design Exhibition Reception and Awards Ceremony was a penultimate celebration showcasing their technique in photographic, drawn, three-dimensional, painted, and digital mediums. A spirited competition between expressive forces elevates their craft. Direct critiques from professionals and peers instill industry awareness in a constructive venue.

Perhaps you were curious about career opportunities with a Liberal Arts degree. Panelists assembled to respond to your inquiries, experts who could attest to the trade standards, how it’s evolved, and what to anticipate. A field harboring a spectrum of occupational prospects and satisfaction, rousing you to advance your studies to completion or shift your major. Evaluating testimonies to discern if your calling is prudent for your academic goals has merits. It delineates vigilance. With your mind poised, you can envision the finish line and your success. What path will you travel to get there? Conversations are practical and astonishingly effective.

Turtle Island STEAM affiliates joyfully carry a tortoise around the plaza.

Turtle Island STEAM affiliates joyfully carry a tortoise around the plaza.

The Earth Laughs in Flowers

ArtFest coordinated its entertainment to align with Earth Day’s participants, organized by the indomitable Sustainability Champions and FREE Learning Community partners. The plaza on April 18 was bustling with cooperative bliss, brimming with canopy tents, animals, and banter between eco-friendly businesses and kindred perspectives. The Turtle Island STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) Team featured six tables and live tortoises. The desert reptiles shaded themselves, seeking respite from the scorching glare on their walnut, beige, and smoke-tinged carapaces adorned tightly with hexagonal and pentagonal scutes. The Haudenosaunee Turtle Island concept leads to activism in protecting Earth with culturally responsive stewardship. Geology and Biology students offered tectonic and plastic alternatives advice; several in Engineering, Education, and Math explained renovation technology, helmed an art project, and described the geometrical phenomena in shells. Tesla representatives garrisoned a clean electric vehicle (EV) on the sidewalk, encouraging passersby to enlighten themselves of minimal rainwater consumption when manufacturing while toying with the bizarre yet hilarious horn selections.

Allies in sustainability honeycombed the outdoor and indoor space. The bottom floor of the Student Center was flush with research poster boards, music, speakers, plus organizations from across the College, country, and Northern Nevada who advocate ecologically sound practices. Here are several participants:

Gordon Hopkins, an Engineering student, and Kurt Ehlers, a Mathematics Professor, performed Paradise and Rainbow Stew, separately composed by John Prine and Merle Haggard, two environmentally savvy legends influenced by country folk, honky-tonk, blues, jazz, and pop. Geology Professor Roger Putnam gave a pressing speech named Are We in the Anthropocene? The 7,000th Generation Perspective. Its moral was to recognize our selfishness in polluting Earth and diverge our habits to ensure a purer world for our children thousands of years from now. Many pledged to uphold green principles at TMCC and their residences, immortalizing this covenant with others.

A little bushy goat basks with grass under its belly in the sunlight.

A little bushy goat basks with grass under its belly in the sunlight.

Treading toward the Countess Angela Dandini Pollinator Garden, a high-pitched bleat surprised people, recoiling their heads to find a caramel-haired baby goat staring back. These cute, intelligent, domesticated critters playfully galloped to and fro within their fertile paddock bordering the Vista Building. Students and instructors stopped to snap selfies with the adorable beasts, and Child Care Center chaperones took kiddies over for giggle-filled petting and an educational outing. If lucky enough, you glimpsed the Dance Program’s finest grooving, popping, twirling, and leaping in ballet slippers across the idyllic landscape. An enchanting ensemble visited particular locations, choreographing their moves to the architecture, history, and ambiance, an exquisite collaboration between their portrayal and the scenery.

The trek up the hill was a solid workout, and when folks arrived at the destination, the sun peaked in the sky. It was a glorious afternoon. Students, adults, and children released ladybugs and lacewings, fluttering hilariously onto the arms and legs of squealing persons. As natural pesticides, hundreds gained a new oasis to complete their duty. Soil crunched under their shoes, boots, and sandals when an address from Dr. Micaela Rubalcava, Education Professor, commenced the final phase of Earth Day 2024 at TMCC.

Introducing Michelle McCauley, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator, the group applauded as she stood calmly facing the microphone, garbed in a jet-black suit and pants. A resplendent cord, neckpiece, and heirloom earrings decorated her upper body, holding a hand drum and stick in her palm. She opened this milestone with a land acknowledgment, honoring the Numu (Northern Paiute), Wašiw (Washoe), Newe (Western Shoshone), and Nuwu (Southern Paiute) tribes. TMCC rests atop these Indigenous traditional homelands, and we remain grateful to exist and educate in this capacity.

“This song is in the Shoshone language. It was taught to me by Gayle Hanson-Johnson, who has passed on. It is our version of the ‘Star Spangled Banner.’ We have the highest veteran rates of any nationality in the United States. I sing to honor our Native American veterans,” McCauley said.

After her captivating recitation, she shared her tribal lineage.

“I come from the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. We call ourselves the Numu, which translates to ‘the people.’ We are Cui-ui eaters, the prehistoric fish in our lake. During COVID-19, the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe closed it entirely to outsiders, replenishing many of our fish,” McCauley said.

“My very first job was with the Cui-ui fisheries. We want to maintain the fish in our lakes. That means ensuring no water outsourcing from the Truckee River to farming lands and those who are not the original protectors. Sustainability is a new term to me. I’ve always called it ‘taking care of the land.’ I like that TMCC is having Earth Day about this,” McCauley continued.

She then greeted Jonathan Lowery, a graduating student and fellow member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, powwow singer, and drummer, who would serenade the assembly with a melody, “Soldier Boy,” for fallen veterans. He requested everyone remove their head covers, as is customary. Paying homage to the warriors who came before him, he immersed onlookers in a cross-generational chant, prayers to the spirits in each resonating beat.

With a divine idea to christen the goodwill, a circle started forming, and hand-in-hand, mesmerizing ancestral dancing anchored our universal love for Earth.

For more information, please visit the ArtFest and Earth Day websites.