Although this past weekend’s Bioneers conference centered around speakers on sustainability, the event made time for art as well. An open mic in Kresge Recital Hall in the Ford Center for Fine Arts (CFA )on Friday night gave voice to anyone wishing to share their views on sustainability, social justice and how one might bring about change.
Notable acts of the evening included Galesburg-specific slam poetry performed by Amelia Garica ’11, who said she first wrote the poem about Rockford, Ill.
“I felt this issue … of people being constantly negative about the city,” Garcia said, explaining to the audience why the poem applied to both places.
One performer of the evening was a Galesburg resident who was so inspired by a previous Bioneers event that she promised herself she would travel around singing for the earth.
“That’s a hard act to follow,” she said about a fellow performer before leading the audience in a Bob Dylan song.
The event’s biggest flaw, perhaps, was that the venue overshadowed both the performers and the spectators. Just slightly fewer than 50 people were gathered in Kresge. The auditorium is designed to hold a few hundred, which does not make a good environment for an open mic. The spectators were scattered about, leaving an isolated feeling that was uncomfortable as an audience member, much less an artist. It made it impossible to achieve that energy so often found at events such as Off Knox.
The stage in Kresge is also very, very big for one person. Any other venue — the Gizmo, the Roger Taylor Lounge even the Oak Room — might have proved more successful. It would also have had the advantage of passersby. Few people are likely to wander into an open mic by accident if it’s tucked away in CFA on a Friday night.
What was commendable, however, was the variety of performers. Few other performance-oriented events at Knox have ever drawn such a wide variety of acts. Students, professors, Galesburg residents, alumni and Bioneers participants old and new alike could all be seen on stage Friday night. Their choice of skill was diverse as well; the audience was treated to singing, guitar, rap, readings of My Ishmael, slam and improv poetry and a special appearance by Bigfoot.
Although the overall quality of the acts left something to be desired, the event made up for it, perhaps, in the passion of those performing. The event’s theme of sustainability and social justice brought people to the stage that might not otherwise have been there and their concern for their chosen cause was more than evident.