Bring your marshmallows, they’re lighting up the Cuddy Quad. This year’s Winterfest crew welcomed innovative new ideas for using winter outdoor spaces on campus during the weeklong celebration and things are about to get toasty warm, not to mention tasty.
All your favorite Winterfest activities are back this year: the mustache and beard contest, music, Banff Film Festival and broomball. Joining the roster of activities are musical performances on handmade ice instruments, over a hundred snowmen (!), ice sculptures and warming fire barrels around Cuddy Quad. There’s also a treasure hunt that could lead you straight to your very own never-before-seen UAA Dining Services creation, the Wolf-Paw cinnamon roll and peppermint hot chocolate.
Herminia Din, professor of art education, and Bree Kessler, assistant professor of health sciences, are two of the visionaries behind the Winter Design Project, a Center for Community Engagement and Learning (CCEL) effort, that will transfigure the Cuddy Quad from Feb. 21 to March 1. Both have recent stamps in their passports from visits to other northern countries—Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark—to check out their innovative use of winter outdoor spaces.
Din visited Finland and Iceland in the past two years for a University of the Arctic Thematic Network on Arctic Sustainable Arts and Design conference and was inspired by their public art installations like burning riverbank sculptures and giant lanterns made from sheer materials.
“It just makes you smile and encourages you to go outdoors,” she said. Her thoughts turned to the UAA campus. Why couldn’t we do something like that here?
Kessler had similar ideas. As an environmental psychologist, she’s interested in the way the built environment shapes people’s behavior. And with that, what ways could it be improved so people are happier?
“Last year I taught in Eugene Short Hall and my classroom looked out on Cuddy Quad and all winter I’d look out and see that it wasn’t utilized in any sort of way,” said Kessler. “Really, I just wanted to put a fire barrel out and see if people would sit there.”
For Din, it was important to see students engaged throughout the week of winter design activities, so she put out a request to UAA faculty. Anyone else willing to fold a winter design project into their spring semester syllabus? She got a better response than she expected. To read more about CCEL's Winter Design Project click here.
Written by Jamie Gonzales, UAA Office of University Advancement.