The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Witching Hour’s third iteration has ended, but is not forgotten

This weekend, the third annual Witching Hour Festival took place in Iowa City, offering a wide variety of artists.
Karen Meat performs at Gabe’s during the Witching Hour art festival in Iowa City on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017. Witching hour is an annual festival in October which features a variety of art and educational events. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

“[I wanted to show that] it is possible for people from Iowa to do this type of thing,” Andre Wright said.

Over the weekend, Iowa City played host to a new sort of witching hour. Witching Hour is a weekend-long festival organized by several staff members of the Englert, who helped create a weekend of art, exploration, and collaboration.

On Oct. 21, Emily Carlson and Wright screened their documentary, New Perspective, which follows the two Iowa designers as they look through every contact they have in order to hopefully begin to change the New York Fashion Week expectations and push themselves as designers through their collaboration.

RELATED: Witching Hour to feature writers of color

Witching Hour creates an environment in which art can thrive. This environment begins by bringing in artists from all over the country from different disciplines and backgrounds. Together, artists such as DJ Spooky, Beach Fossils; authors such as Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink; and comedians such as Hari Kondabolu and Aparna Nancherla created a weekend-long experience.

Many discussions took place surrounding local concerns such as small-town journalism, Iowa bee populations, women of color in Iowa City, and racial trauma, among others. But the festival also looked outside the fields of the Midwest.

Susan Patterson Plank

Susan Patterson Plank, the executive director of the Iowa Newspaper Association, thinks of her job as more of a chance to save democracy than just a head of an organization. She spoke at Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St., on Oct. 20.

Fascinating things seem to happen to small-town journalism, like a tiny Iowa paper winning a Pulitzer Prize in 2016. Plank took this opportunity to look at the data on readership around the state to debunk myths surrounding local journalism. Part of this presentation also analyzed the threats and opportunities that surround hyper-local, rural journalism.

In Iowa, there are 277 newspapers, making it one of the highest newspapers per capita in the country. Each town has at least two different newspapers, with 2.4 million readers in the state in total.

During her research, Plank looked at the rates of readerships for among age groups. The data showed, perhaps surprisingly, 72.4 percent of residents ages 18 to 24 read newspapers.

“Newspapers build community, continuity, credibility, and consensus,” Park said during her presentation. “Many of them are locally owned, and even if they’re not, they have passion.”

Writers of Color Series

Witching Hour also aims to bring a diverse set of voices into the Iowa City area, and one way it achieved this through two panels on writers of color.

On Oct. 21, Marquise Jackson, Sarah Matthews, Jack Jung, Kamden Hilliard, Akwi Nji, Tiffany Tucker, and Danez Smith spoke at the Englert, 221 E. Washington St. On Sunday, there was also a reading at RadInc., 123 E. Washington St.

Kiese Laymon, a distinguished visiting professor in the University of Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program, said some of the most powerful acts come from the communities surrounding people of color.

One way to summarize the unique experiences that Witching Hour offers is with a quote from Wright. Individuality is undeniable. Being unique is now unavoidable and is now rewarded instead of punished.

“[Fashion] is not looking like everyone else. It’s just being ‘you,’ ” said Wright. “Being authentic is the best style you can have.”

RELATED: Season of the witching overtake downtown

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About the Contributors
Sarah Stortz
Sarah Stortz, Arts Editor
Twitter: @sstortz_
Sarah Stortz is an Arts Editor at The Daily Iowan. She has been on staff since her freshman year, previously as a news reporter, digital producer, and arts reporter. She is a senior at the University of Iowa, studying journalism & mass communication with a certificate in nonprofit management and a minor in theatre arts.
Shivansh Ahuja
Shivansh Ahuja, Senior Photojournalist
Email: [email protected] Shivansh Ahuja is a Photojournalist at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the UI majoring in mechanical engineering, and he has worked as a photo editor and photojournalist on staff for the last three years.