Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

FAVA Hosts First Annual Art Fair in Tappan Square

Erin Koo
People observed the different vendors at the FAVA Art Fair.

On Saturday, Sept. 9, an enclave of color stood among the lush greenery of Tappan Square. This joint effort by the City of Oberlin and the Firelands Association for the Visual Arts resulting in the first annual Art Fair, centered approximately 60 artists and vendors and shined in the community’s engagement and turnout.

Given that this was the first time the event graced  Tappan Square, its organizers, including Executive Director of FAVA Kathleen Jackson and Communications Manager for the City of Oberlin Diane Ramos, unveiled it with excitement. 

“Part of my position as a communications manager for the City is to really create events and other promotions and things like that to highlight the best parts of Oberlin,” Ramos said. “So partnering with FAVA only made sense to really highlight all of the talent that we have locally and regionally. That’s something that was important to me, and we are more than happy to support FAVA’s first annual — [with] many more to come — Art Fair in the square.” 

With the future of the event in mind, Jackson notes FAVA’s mission, which is to enhance “public appreciation of and participation in the visual arts through exhibitions and related educational and community activities.” 

“The hope is to grow it every year and make it a community focal point,” Jackson said. “We’ve got lots of space to expand and grow.”

Music and the voices of passersby could be heard a block away from Tappan Square. Among some of those voices were students, such as College first-year Saffron Qaiyum. 

“It’s really nice to see how it seems like the whole community is involved in it,” Qaiyum said. “[It] seems like a really good turnout for such a small town on a Saturday morning. It’s really cool.” 

The wide array of local vendors selling handmade art made the fair particularly special. When asked what she does in addition to creating jewelry, vendor Silvija Koschnick, OC ’06, said that they split their time between jewelry and massage therapy. While the combination between the two initially seems unexpected, Koschnick explained their connection. 

“To me, there’s a way that the hand-carving of beads and the personal adornment goes hand in hand with how much massage therapy, and just bodywork in general, is our original kind of medicine,” Koschnick said.

Her mother owned Bead Paradise, a store dedicated to selling beads and jewelry in Oberlin until its closure in 2020. With her stepfather hailing from West Africa and their family being a part of the bead trade, she used this type of art as inspiration when studying Studio Art, but she always tended to gravitate back towards jewelry making. 

“I like to make sculptural jewelry that incorporates a lot of old pieces as well as gemstones,” Koschnick said. “I work a lot with color and negative space and how things hang, especially with earrings. I love how gravity and our bodies move pieces of jewelry. So I always feel like, because I have an art background, I tend to think about jewelry sculpturally.”

After graduating from Oberlin College, she had a jewelry business in Portland, Oregon alongside their sister. This was her first art fair in 12 years.

“I think every show starts to transform as more people know about it. So [next year], I imagine there might be some more vendors, maybe there’ll be more applications, they’ll add more booths,” Koschnick said. “I would love to [return to the fair next year].”

In similarly to Koschnick, Maegen Hurtado, vendor and three-year president of FAVA’s board, sells what speaks to her. This was Hurtado’s first art fair, and a range of specially curated succulents lined the two tables and hung from two of the four horizontal poles in her tent. 

“It’s just been a pleasure working with the organization and finding ways to be creative with the community and finding ways to bring in extra money into the organization,” Hurtado said. 

Her business is centered around the joy her plants can bring to customers’ lives. 

“It’s about matching [the plant] to someone’s personality and their lifestyle,” Hurtado said. “Just to see the smile on their face when they leave, I feel like that’s an art form in itself, creating an experience that people enjoy. They walk away feeling really good and positive about themselves.”

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