April 5 marked the 14th annual SageFest, an event organized by the Sage Art Center, UR’s studio arts building, and filled with themed activities and entertainment. This year’s event, titled “Total Preclipse of the Sage,” was themed around the total solar eclipse and included t-shirt printing, cyanotype making, cookie decorating, and so much more.

After an initial tour around Sage, where the building layout reminded me a bit too much of Meliora Hall, I started my deeper exploration. The reception located in the ASIS Gallery included art pieces from Studio Arts classes, including the “Human Stories” collection created by the Advanced Painting class, “Diallages” from Expanded Photography, and a solo artist exhibition, “The Bear, the Bull & Me,” developed by the collaborative efforts of the Markings, Methods, and Materials class under a fictitious artist named Marcus Kings. It was only fitting to start an art festival with creative and self-expressive works by talented students working in different mediums.

SageFest offered a variety of activities — a photo booth, zine-making, an eclipse silhouette onto which you trace your friend’s outline, t-shirt printing, cyanotype photography, cookie decorating, and a time capsule for the future 2144 Rochester eclipse. For the majority of the activities, we were able to take home our creations. As I wandered around, I saw bountiful colors scattered around the building with groups of friends making zines or pairs chatting while decorating cookies with the “Today’s Top Hits” Spotify playlist in the background.

My very favorite activity was the cyanotype photography: a cameraless way to produce photos where you lay objects on top of a special fabric and allow chemical reactions to occur under UV light. The unexposed parts of the fabric under the objects turn white while allowing chemical reactions to occur in the exposed areas, turning the parts blue. What’s even cooler is that the shadow that the light casts on the objects allows for an in-between shade of blue to form. The process of cyanotype photography was extremely intriguing and connected photography, science, and creativity all into one. Plus, the idea of creating images without a camera is such a fascinating idea.

While walking around, I asked a few people about their SageFest experiences and many around me shared the same sentiment: “I love it a lot. I think there’s a lot of creativity happening,” sophomore Nancy Fan said. Fan went to SageFest with a group of friends and participated in t-shirt printing and cyanotype photography. When asked about the eclipse, she showed great excitement, adding: “We’re going to celebrate by maybe having a little picnic outside.”

It was also super cool to watch the t-shirt printing process. T-shirt printing is done in many forms, with the one during SageFest being screen printing, where you put the t-shirt over the platen at the base of the printing press, pull down the press head with the design stencil screen, and use a wooden squeegee to push the ink around. And when you pull up the press head, voila, the design is on the shirt. You then leave the shirt to dry and iron it to make sure the ink sets into the fabric. At the end, you get to take home a limited edition t-shirt.

SageFest also offered workshops, including a performance workshop led by the digital lab and an Arabic embroidery workshop. All in all, I enjoyed the laid-back environment SageFest brought. These activities gave room for collaboration and getting to know others, promoted a friendly environment, fostered creativity, and most importantly, got people excited about the total eclipse.

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