BC Illuminates puts a spotlight on creativity

Bellevue College’s first annual BC Illuminates festival launchedthis March, and it was outstanding.

According to Vivienne McClendon, the dean of the BC library, “the goal of the festival is to have an annual event that celebrates the connection between creativity and the arts and technology.

“So, all kinds of ways of telling stories, and how technology helps us do that, connects us with other people doing similar things. We all have a story and we tell it in different ways, whether it’s photography or comedy.”

The festivalwas filled with Seattle-based keynote speakers, musicians, film makers, poets and even a free nacho bar for enjoyment. The majority of the event was held in the collaboration area of the campus library.

The XR lab and the arts and culture events were held simultaneously. Friday included a simple open-house display of the lab, while Saturday hosted multiple speakers and virtual reality developers that even battled topics such as climate change.

Though there may not be any talks right now, the XR lab is open whenever the library is open.

The festival started with a talk from Ramón Concepción, an assistant director at BC’s multicultural services department. This was followed by a discussion with Audrey Bean, news editor for the Watchdog, and Unica Lee, founder of BC’s poetry club. Together, they showcased “Belletrist”, a literary arts journal that showcases the talents of BC students, both in print and online copies.

BC illuminates wants to exhibit even more student flair in the upcoming years. If you have a story that you want to share, talk to student programs about being a presenter. Niko Stathakopoulos, the event coordinator of BC Illuminates stated, “It was hard to find out where students met where because there was a lack of a central resource. I think it would be great if there was more connection on campus.” Volunteer positions are also abundant, meaning that volunteer hours are as well.

The next panel was on the evolution of LGBTQ+ representation in film and television, hosted by Matt Baume. Steve Mcintyre spoke for Minor Matters, a publishing company that tell stories through photography, which was followed by a comedy presentation featuring former BC alumni Kevin Saxby, misprinted as Natalie Holt on the pamphlets.

Transitioning into the evening programs, there were multiple grunge-like music performances, including Emma Lee Toyoda, Alex Menne of “Great Grandpa” and Mikey Ferrario of “Talktin and Easy.” They also held a discussion panel, hosted by Josh Davis of “SEACATS.”

BC President Jerry Weber opened the night by briefly stating that BC illuminates was meant to present “more diverse forms of expression.” His introduction was followed by Ken Jennings giving his talk on about the importance of having the right knowledge at the right time, without the use of search engines.

The penultimate program was a quirky performance by Kimya Dawson, most widely known for her work on the “Juno” soundtrack.

The night ended with the visually stunning stop-motion film, “Torrey Pines.” Clyde Peterson, the creator of the film, displaysa personal tale centeredaround mental health and gender dysphoria.

The Saturday event opened with an interactive presentation once again by Unica Lee, this time to show off the work of her poetry club and its members.

The day brightened up with lively poetry reading from Robert Lashley, who writes about his life as a black man growing up in a black neighborhood. He is currently working on his third book, “The Green River Valley.”

The biggest turnout was from Dr. Quintard Taylor, holding the most stage time out of all the guest speakers. Rather than his usual academic lectures, Taylor shared his passion project, BlackPast.org, an encyclopedic website that aims to educate internet users on black history all around the world.

The project is free and managed by volunteers, so if you have any interest in African ancestry you can go to BlackPast.org to find ways to help.

The rest of the day program was more literature based, with independent editor Erin Wilcox, and short story writers Kirsten Lundstrum, Becky Mandlebuam and Anca Szilágyi. The three shared their stories titled, respectively, “What We Do with the Wreckage,” “Bad Kansas” and “Daughters of the Air.”

Michael Schmeltzer, an editor of Floating Bridge Press, introduced us to the concept of chapbooks, thin books that can hold up to fifteen poems.Rena Preist and Natasha Moni, two of the writers on the panel, are most known for their chapbooks “Patriarchy Blues and The Cardiologist’s Daughter.”

The next two programs featured Kelly Froh, the award nominated comic publisher, who divulged details on her local project “Short Run Comix and Art Festival,” and Azura Tyabji, who performed some of her poetry pieces that got her nominated as one of the top five youth poet laureates of the country.

BC Illuminates concluded with the Bushwick Book Club, who presented performances by numerous musicians, and their songs inspired by the novel, “This is How it Always is.” The author, Laurie Frankel, joined them in a discussion on her own inspirations, and how it feels to inspire others.

The BC administration plans to make the next BC Illuminates festival even greater, meaning more free performances and screenings, more volunteer opportunities, and more free food. McClendon states that “Next year, we will be merging BC Illuminates with the sustainability people on campus and during Earth week.”