CFA 50th birthday event map

CFA’s 50th Birthday Party: Full Listing of Events and Activities

Saturday, September 23, 2023 at 2:00pm
Crowell Concert Hall


Events moved indoors due to the forecasted rain.

Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts opened in September 1973. Join us for a celebration of 50 years, kicking off with a concert in Crowell Concert Hall featuring Sunny Jain’s “Wild Wild East” from 2pm to 3pm, and stay to explore the iconic eleven-building complex and engage in a variety of arts activities. All events are free and open to the public.  



Sunny Jain’s “Wild Wild East”
2pm to 3pm | Crowell Concert Hall | FREE!
Sunny Jain’s “Wild Wild East,” a Brooklyn-based band, encompasses myriad facets of Jain’s identity both as a first-generation South Asian-American and as a global musician, from his own family’s immigration story to his eclectic musical upbringing. In recasting the immigrant as the modern-day cowboy and cowgirl, Jain sources musical inspiration from the scores of Bollywood classics and Spaghetti Westerns, Indian folk traditions, jazz improvisation, and rollicking psychedelic and surf guitar styles. Sunny Jain’s “Wild Wild East” is rooted in the contemporary American soundscape, singing in a new voice, “I am large, I contain multitudes.”

Paper Flower Making Workshop
2pm to 5pm | Art Workshops Lobby | FREE!
Join visiting artist Deborah Goffe ’MA 19 to construct human-sized paper flowers that will be part of Scapegoat Garden’s Liturgy | Order | Bridge, choreographed by Goffe, and presented by the CFA as part of the 50th anniversary season in February 2024.

Cupcake Toast
4pm | Crowell Concert Hall | FREE!
Join us in raising a cupcake (250, in fact!) to 50 years of the Center for the Arts at Wesleyan University, with brief remarks from the Director of the CFA Joshua Lubin-Levy ’06 and the Dean of the Arts and Humanities and Professor of Music Roger Mathew Grant.



Trisha Brown’s Skymap (1969)
Courtesy of the Trisha Brown Dance Company
2pm to 5pm | CFA Theater | FREE!
Skymap (1969) is a dance with no dance. Its choreography unfolds only in the mind of the audience, who are instructed to lay on the floor and stare at the ceiling. In order to make the ceiling a site for her work, Trisha Brown recorded her own voice on audio tape, instructing audiences “to mentally construct an overhead map of the United States.” First performed at Newark State College, Brown elsewhere remarked, “I had performed on the walls, the floor, and at eye level, I know that the ceiling was next, but I just couldn’t bring myself to enter into that kind of physical training with that kind of danger below. I sent words up there instead.”

John Cage's Empty Words (draft), 1974
Courtesy the World Music Archives
2pm to 5pm | Crowell Concert Hall | FREE!
This recording was made on the occasion of “An Evening with John Cage” presented in Crowell Concert Hall on February 23 and 24, 1974 during the CFA’s inaugural season. It is an early draft of Cage’s Empty Words (1974)—a text and score for performance Cage created by erasing elements of Henry David Thoreau’s Journals (which document the writer’s inner life and his musings on the natural world). Cage uncovers his own unique score within Thoreau’s highly personal prose. Yet in the same way Cage disrupts Thoreau’s text, Cage’s performance is disrupted by the modulation of his voice through amplification and feedback, engineered by Alvin Lucier who supported Empty Words’ first known performance. The other piece performed in 1974, Etcetera (1973), will be recreated as part of the 50th anniversary season in May 2024.

Charles Atlas and Merce Cunningham’s Walkaround Time (1973)
Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix, New York
2pm to 5pm | Ring Family Performing Arts Hall | FREE!
Walkaround Time takes its title from the slow processing speed of early computers. As choreographer Merce Cunningham remarks, “[y]ou feed the computer information, then you have to wait while it digests. There’s some argument as to whether the computer is walking around or those who are waiting.” The live performance was first presented at SUNY Buffalo State College, with a set by Jasper Johns inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s The Large Glass, and a score by David Behrman. The film by Charles Atlas is a rare, early work in which Atlas translated the live performance into a film (unlike later works Cunningham staged explicitly for Atlas’ camera), evincing a tension between the space-time of the stage and screen. Dancers featured in the film include Carolyn Brown, Merce Cunningham, Ulysses Dove, Douglas Dunn, Meg Harper, Susana Hayman-Chaffey, Chris Komar, Sandra Neels, Chase Robinson, and Valda Setterfield.



Building Blocks: Tunnel Tours
Developed by Helen Townsend ’24 with Miles Allen ’24
2pm to 5pm | CFA Tunnels | FREE!
Explore the underground tunnels that connect the CFA’s complex of eleven buildings, as well as an exhibition that considers the foundations of a Studio Art education at Wesleyan.

Screen Print Your Own CFA
Developed by Noah Shacknai ’25 and Spencer Klink ’24
2pm to 5pm | CFA Print Shop | FREE!
Create your own design for the CFA’s 50th anniversary using images from the archives, graphics, and printing materials provided by the print shop. New t-shirts and upcycled clothing courtesy of WesThrift will be provided, or bring your own item to print on.

Scores on Conceptual Art: A Collective Mural Project
Developed by Miles Allen ’24
2pm to 5pm | South Gallery Reading Room, Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery | FREE!
Sol LeWitt wrote that “[i]deas alone can be works of art,” but ideas come alive in collaboration. Bring or join a group in South Gallery to put LeWitt’s notion of conceptual art into practice with this mural-making activity, suitable for all ages and skill levels.

Costume Shop Photobooth
2pm to 5pm | CFA Theater Loading Dock | FREE!
Dress up in items from the Costume Shop, housed on the ground floor of the Theater Studios, and stage fantastical photos amidst the CFA’s minimalist buildings.

World Music Jam
Developed by Emma Bella Bass-Lawrence ’24
3pm to 5pm | World Music Hall | FREE!
Try playing a djembe, tambura, or janggu from one of the Music Department’s many world music ensembles, or bring your own instrument and join in a jam session. Suitable for all skill levels, facilitated by undergraduate and graduate students.

Pop Up Salsa Class
Led by Rebeca Trevino ’24
3:30pm to 4pm | CFA Theater Stage | FREE!
Learn how to salsa dance in this workshop open to all, no dance experience necessary.


World Music Hall and CFA Theater | FREE!
Refreshments from Bon Appétit and apple pies from Libation Farm.


Activities conceived by Noah Shacknai ’25, Miles Allen ’24, Helen Townsend ’24, and Emma Bella Bass-Lawrence ’24 in collaboration with the Center for the Arts staff.

Special thanks to our colleagues in Arts Production, Physical Plant, Auxiliary Services, and Bon Appétit for making this celebration possible.