Members of the LC community wait at the Great Platt Lawn for artists to begin as KLC sets up for various evening performances. Photo by Justin Howerton

Suntan helps bolster LC sense of community

The lack of community at Lewis & Clark is arguably one of the college’s most common critiques. From its occasionally cliquey nature to a lack of intra-college spirit, some students find the social scene difficult to navigate. This year, KLC Radio, LC’s radio station, hoped to remedy this sense of disconnection by bringing students together through music and art. With the help of the College Activities Board (CAB), our campus hosted its own music festival on Saturday, Sept.14 : Suntan.

In years past, Suntan usually functioned as a direct precursor to Sunburn with both occurring towards the end of the end of the second semester. However, this year KLC Radio decided to host the event at the beginning of fall semester, as a welcome event for new and returning students alike. Suntan brought together students, alumni and residents of the Portland community to revel in the late summer sun.

Aidan Mackie ’20, the general manager of KLC Radio and one of the key architects of Suntan, discussed the notion of community on campus and KLC’s potential role in shaping this. He described the festival as one piece in the greater puzzle of uniting students.

“There should be so much more connective tissue between people and departments on campus,” Mackie said. “Lewis & Clark is only going to become better and better as we do more stuff for students. Everyone should be coming together multiple times a month.”

Suntan began at 2:30 p.m. at the Rusty Nail Co-Op, otherwise known as the “Coop,” where students were congregating on the lawn with 16 LC student artists selling their work to their peers. While the art market and clothing swap took place, the performances of the Paul Moyer Jazz Quartet, Canary Room and Old Grape God accentuated the good vibes. Maya Winshell ’21, a participating artist and drag performer in Suntan, commented on how the art market signified a rare opportunity for student artists to showcase their hard work and talent. 

“The art market was fantastic for me,” Winshell said via email. “Putting my work out there and having other students recognize me as a real artist, alongside a bunch of other artists on campus whose work I had never seen, gave me a sense of genuine community I hadn’t ever really sensed before.” 

The Paul Moyer Jazz Quartet opened the event with an impressive rendition of jazz fusion tracks, many of which were a product of Moyer’s thesis project for the music department. The quartet was followed by Canary Room, the stage name for LC student Maddy Heide ’20. Her performance was a solo act consisting of only her and her guitar while the audience lounged on the ground. The performance was a smooth meditation on love, personhood and adolescent emotions. The last act of the first half of Suntan was Old Grape God, a local Portland artist who specializes in avant-garde, genre-bending hip-hop.

After the intermission at 4 p.m., the venue shifted to the Estate Gardens where some larger shows took place near the reflecting pool. Headlined by burgeoning retro-futurist Portland artist Chanti Darling, the latter half of Suntan featured  David “Motorcross” David, Seamoss, an absolutely stunning drag performance by Shayna Puddin’ and a glowing homecoming set by LC alum Makayela Johnson ’18, musically known as KayelaJ. Chanti Darling’s performance was a buoyant and energetic end to the night, culminating in a bevy of LC students joining him to dance under the stars. Grace Mark ’20 noticed the positive energy emanating from the crowd during this diverse set of performances. 

“What was lacking in attendance was more than made up for by the enthusiasm and support of the crowd,” Mark said via email. “It was refreshing to have such a varied mix of performances and music styles in one evening.”

Suntan was an incredible display of talented musicians. More than anything it ushered in the school year with levity and positivity. In the coming weeks, the sun will disappear, yet this is one tan that will not fade. If this event was any indication, music may offer one solution to LC’s perceived community issues.

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