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Arts & Entertainment

Dallas College is Celebrating Student Work for Arts Month

The school will be providing students from a variety of programs a platform to share their work during its inaugural Design Week and a photography showcase at the Hilton Anatole.
This year’s Future of Fashion Design Showcase theme is “Transcendence from Human to Humanoid,” inspired by recent advancements in AI. Courtesy Dallas College

Every April, Dallas celebrates creativity and the arts during the city’s branded Arts Month. This year, Dallas College is participating by showcasing student work in its first ever Design Week, which lasts from April 22 through April 25. Programs taking part include Digital Art and Design, Architecture and Interior Design, Fashion Marketing, and Fashion Design, each of which will have a dedicated event where students can share individual projects or presentations with the public.

The college has partnered with the Hilton Anatole, which is hosting an exhibition of student photography called This Current Moment: Dallas College Photography Showcase through May 14.

Ahava Silkey-Jones, vice provost for the School of Creative Arts, Entertainment, and Design at Dallas College, says that both efforts are representative of the work done year-round to spotlight students. “We really want to help show how the Dallas College arts programs across all of our seven campuses are a crucial part of the arts community,” she says. “Our students are involved in promoting their events, creating materials, set up, takedown, run of show, welcoming attendees.”

The college allows students of all levels to get involved. More junior students generally focus on behind the scenes work, while those further along in their studies take center stage. When speaking to the students, it becomes clear that, while their projects come directly from their coursework, the Arts Month events are more than just another assignment. Design Week and the Hilton Anatole exhibit are just the latest examples of how the school helps students turn their passion into a profession, if they so choose.

“The biggest thing, and what Dallas College does overall, is provide opportunity for people. So whether you are fresh coming out of high school, or you are middle-aged, they are helping you to form your craft to a place that you can begin to excel,” says photography student Keith Vinson, who feels strongly that courses taught by Professor Jesse Hornbuckle have elevated his work artistically and commercially.

NiEtta Reynolds, another student of Hornbuckle’s, hopes to use her photography to stimulate conversations around mental health. She sees the Hilton Anatole exhibition as a platform. “Being in the class is actually giving me…visual representation… It’s putting me in a position for people to ask me about my work,” she says. 

Each student in the photography program has a different area of concentration, providing a variety of perspectives for exhibits. Another student, Teresa Jackson, candidly photographs Black men and young boys to combat stereotyping. The Arts Month events are, to Jackson, a way the school advocates for students while helping them get their work in front of key stakeholders. “I think…art is a really important part of our community and our wellbeing overall… Research shows that…[whether] you’re a consumer of art or you’re an artist, there’s the opportunity to have a positive impact,” she says.

Design Week will also highlight many students outside of photography. Joshua Yoon, a digital UX/UI student, will be taking part in his department’s showcase. This will be Yoon’s first time sharing his work with an audience, presenting a website prototype inspired by one of his favorite bands, Lord Huron

“I think it’s a great opportunity to meet some people…but really, I’m more interested in what other students will be presenting,” says Yoon. “I think that’s the biggest thing for me. It’s just seeing the variety.”

While most of Design Week’s events will be held on Dallas College campuses and free to the public, the Future of Fashion Design Showcase will be a ticketed event hosted at On the Levee in the Design District. Emmanuel Tobias, the Dallas College faculty member who oversees the show, has helped in its evolution since he joined the school five years ago.

“They’re really getting out and connecting with their individual communities and saying, ‘Come to Dallas College, see what I’m working on, see me shine.’ And it’s a really proud moment for the students and their families,” says Silkey-Jones, the vice provost.

Tobias realized they would need professional models to help elevate the showcase. “Professional models can make a potato sack look fabulous,” he says. 

Tobias teamed up with Kate Wagner from The Campbell Agency to hire professionals to walk the runway for the school’s show. “It’s truly been one magnificent experience for the students to see their garment[s] come to life, [going from] them not knowing how to sew a single stitch to them creating full-on garments.”

Each year, Tobias has students design according to a theme that they can build the show around. This year’s theme is “Transcendence from Human to Humanoid,” inspired by recent advancements in AI and the increased accessibility afforded by digital pattern-making. Tobias was also inspired by sustainability efforts he witnessed during a recent trip to Costa Rica. “I gave them another challenge: to make it an avant-garde look, and also sustainable. So they can’t waste any of their materials. So anything they cut out…[has] to be implemented into their design after they finish cutting their actual pattern.”

For Tobias, the most rewarding aspect of the week is to offer a platform to a diverse student body that spans from recent high school graduates to people of retirement age, many of whom have faced significant challenges in their personal lives.

“They all have very strong hardships in their life and they struggle,” says Tobias. “And this show is also a testament to [our students] being persistent.

This is also a testament because they’ve gotten to this point where they can showcase their [work], but their [work] is also telling their story. And so every year, I’m so proud of whoever gets to this point because I know their struggles.”

Design Week kicks off Monday, April 22, with the Digital Art and Design Showcase at the college’s Brookhaven Campus. Anyone interested in attending the Design Week events can find more information on them, including locations, dates, and times, here. Tickets for the Future of Fashion Design Showcase can be purchased here


Austin Zook

Austin Zook