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Solebury festival brings community together in celebration of arts


The 60th annual Solebury Arts Festival was held April 12-19.

Students participated in workshops, lectures, and enjoyed performances led by special guest artists. The weeklong festival ended with an Earth Day celebration, which included student performances and an art and plant sale.

“The Arts Festival gives our students access to professional artists to hone their craft and learn current industry trends,” said Erika Fairchild, parent of a student from the Class of 2013, festival organizer and arts department head. “A favorite festival staple is a trip to MorningStar Studios for music students to make a professional recording. Finally, the Art and Earth Day celebration on Friday with outdoor performances was like an old-school Solebury vibe hanging out behind the barn.”

The festival has been a longstanding tradition at Solebury School since 1964. Parents, faculty, and staff worked together to plan hands-on experiences for students considering careers in the visual and performing arts. Overall, it brought the entire community together in celebration of the arts.

“As an artist and a longtime member of the Solebury family, I loved helping students discover new ways to engage with the arts,” said Elisa Markhoff, P’16, ’18 and ’26. “Some people still believe that artists are chaotic and penniless – but that is a cliché. So many areas of study in the arts can lead to fulfilling and profitable professions that are also very engaged with the larger community. Through the Arts Festival, we can inspire our children to open up to a world where exploring their creativity is not just possible but deeply needed.”

Mukamuri, a soul artist from Zimbabwe, used his music to educate students on a variety of issues society faces. Other guest artists introduced students to dance styles, art mediums, and technical tips, all to expand their creativity.

“I’m thrilled to be back teaching at Solebury School. I love how the school knows the importance of art, music, and dance in adolescents’ lives,” said Sharonne Vinokurov of the Philadelphia Dance Connection. “Dance has changed my life. It gives me a sense of release and is part of who I am. My greatest joy is sharing my passion and love for dance with others. That’s why I have my studio and want others to find joy in dance like I did.”

American tattoo artist, painter, sculptor and poet, Carl “Shotsie” Gorman, led a workshop on unblocking creativity and freeing oneself from criticism. He is also the co-founder of the Alliance of Professional Tattooists. “I certainly concur that working with students in the arts is saving the human race,” said Shotsie. “Creative and artistic students are particularly susceptible to common critical remarks disguised as concern for their future. Young art students need to hear inspiring messages from dedicated creative people!”

A returning parent, Susan Mania, P’11 ’13 ’20, shared dyeing techniques with students during her hands-on indigo dye and shibori workshop.

“Working with students and sharing my love for the art-making process has always been central to my work as an artist,” said Mania. “I am thrilled to be coming back to Solebury School for this year’s Arts Fest. As a parent and artist, I can describe Solebury’s excellence in the arts as ‘small but mighty.’ My three children graduated from Solebury School, and the arts were, in large part, why they chose Solebury. Each participated in fine arts, theater, and music which served them well in their adult years.”

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