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The Blue Banner

UNCA students find self-expression and connection through art

Rylie Daniel
Arts & Features Writer  
[email protected]

Photo by Emily Arismendy
19-year-old Matty Garau practices for his “avant-garage” band.

Asheville attracts people who have artistic mindsets and creates a sense of community allowing art to thrive, sophomore Joe Trimmer said. 
“I got into avant-garde in music and musical movements and then that got me into avant-garde  art,” 19-year-old drummer Matty Garau said. “I definitely think a big part of musical creativity comes from having experiences to play music about.”
Garau said hobbies have always been a part of his life and help fuel ideas for musical creations. 
“I feel like the best example is you can’t really write a song unless you have an experience to write about. It’s less obvious with drums, but if you’re just trying to compose something or play a solo or something if your life is boring you, you don’t have anything to express,” the Lipinsky percussion manager said. 
Garau’s love of music grew from a young age, mainly influenced by his father’s simple love of all things music, as well as his fifth grade teacher. 
“I grew up nerding-out with my dad over anything from jazz to punk to metal,” he said. “He kind of planted the seed of really thinking about music rather than just hearing it sometimes.” 
Fifth grade marked the full-on jump into every musical outlet possible, he said. According to Garau, his teacher had a passion for music going back to his younger years, performing in multiple low-key punk bands. 
“He always had a bunch of instruments set up in the classroom and he had a drum set. The rule was you can’t play the drum set unless you know what you’re doing,” Garau said, “I wanted to so bad that I lied my ass off and apparently I faked it well enough that he let me keep playing.”
Garau said his main instrument is the drums, but he also plays as much percussion as he can get his hands on, including bass, guitar and a little piano. He currently plays in the percussion ensemble and the new standards ensemble.
“All the school stuff changes every semester, so it’s never one consistent thing,” the drummer said. 
Summing up to five out-of-school bands, Garau said he keeps himself busy and even dropped a few other projects to make time for his hectic schedule. 
“My main passion project is Fortezza which I’ve been doing for like four years and we just got back together,” he said. “I’m also in State Park Ranger, School Night, Tough Break, and You Pretty Things.”According to Garau, his band, Fortezza, just recently found a name for their sound and is  excited about their new music and album to come. 
“We recently coined the term avant-garage, like garage punk, but it’s also avant-garde,” he said.  “That was one of the criteria that we promised ourselves when we got back together was that we were going to get weirder.”
Garau said every music venue in Asheville carries their own vibe making each unique to themselves.
“Most helpful to me personally has been Fleetwood’s. The people there are super nice and I know I can just call them up and say, ‘Hey can I schedule this?’ and they’ll be like ‘Of course, it’s you,’” he said. “But venue wise, Mothlight is probably the way to go.”
Fortezza plays their comeback show at The Pulp attached to The Orange Peel on March 1, according to Garau. He said this venue has the potential to become a new favorite. 
“I’m stupid busy, but I love it and I’ll play any type of music as long as the check doesn’t bounce, just doing it for the money,” he said. “I want the money because I want to be able to keep doing it. That’s the whole point I guess.”
Editor-in-Chiefof Headwaters, UNCA’s literary magazine, Arden Stockdell-Giesler, said the goal of poetry comes down to the genuine nature and rawness of unfiltered thought and intention.
“It’s so subjective and up to interpretation that anything can be poetry if you want it to and I think that’s one of my favorite things about it,” the 20-year-old poet said. 
Stockdell-Giesler said her passion for writing has grown ever since eighth grade but definitely changed a lot in its course. 
“I started mainly writing poetry after I lost my mom just because she was also a writer and then obviously little kid, huge things going on and then that just continued,” she said.
The writing consultant said her main focus resides on poetry and creative nonfiction both in her creative writing major and free time.
“Right now, primarily, I’m playing a lot with meter in my poetry and in my creative nonfiction I’ve been doing a lot of lyric essays,” she said. “Creative nonfiction lends itself to poetry so you can blend them really nicely.”
Stockdell-Giesler said Headwaters presents itself as a journal composed of different art forms submitted by faculty, students and alumni.
“We include all forms of expression that can be printed, whether it’s a screenplay, poetry, creative nonfiction, fiction, a comic strip. We take photography, we take all forms of visual art, anything that can be printed essentially, we accept those submissions,” she said. 
The 20-year-old said she spends a lot of her time working on the drama department’s current project, Hedda Gabbler as the lead. 
“I took an acting class as a filler class last semester and so I was like, ‘Nothing to lose why not?’ because I liked the play and I’ve read it. I was not expecting this,” she said. 
Stockdell-Giesler said she also runs a blog,, where she posts her work dating back to eighth grade. 
“I will sometimes get messages, whether it’s through my Instagram page that people have found through it or directly through my email through the blog, people saying, ‘Oh, I’ve been silently following your blog for three, four, five, six years and I just want to say this and this,” she said.
Her work from the blog has been referenced multiple times in other students’ papers from other schools, Stockdell-Giesler said. The blog shows viewers from a wide range of 80 countries, she said. 
“It’s rewarding getting the messages from people saying ‘Your words helped me find my own’ just because that’s why I read so much or even listen to music because other people put into words what you can’t put into words and then just being able to do that for somebody else is really nice,” she said. 
Upcoming new media artist Sergio Barbosa said creating art always interested him, but it took coming to college to put his hobby into motion.
“It was always something I wanted to be good at, but I was never good at it and I had friends in elementary school that would make comics and I always had no idea how they did it,” Barbosa said. “I didn’t actually try it until last year when I found YouTube and I was like, ‘this is everything I needed.”
Barbosa said most of his inspiration comes from independent artists on Twitter and Instagram. His personal work can be found at his Instagram @micr0wavesafe. 
“I follow a lot of artists on Twitter and most of my favorite artists are on there,” he said. 
The 19-year-old focuses on animation and videos made on digital platforms such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. 
“I’m learning how to use Adobe After Effects right now in my video class and that takes up a lot of my time,” he said. “I’ve also been making a bunch of skate videos and trying to figure out how to use Photoshop more efficiently to draw.”
Barbosa said cartoons and children’s books influence his art in many ways, especially TV shows like Over the Garden Wall and Adventure Time. He also currently takes a course focusing on simple children’s crafts. 
“We do mini arts and crafts and practice painting with symmetry and stuff. It’s mainly about teaching kids how to come up with ideas,” he said. “I’ve taken a lot of stuff from that class to put in my work.”
In the future, Barbosa said he doesn’t have a clear path he wants to follow, but hopes for multiple different career choices. 
“If I could decide on two or three things it would probably be a clothing brand at some point, have my own free time and studio to create and if not either of those things I would want to be a freelance artist so I could be on my own schedule,” he said.
Barbosa said his art comes with a lot of trial and error he has not always been accustomed to. He said the best way to combat this involves getting into a regimen.
“When I can get into the groove of it, doing drawing right as I wake up is the best thing for me, especially if I do it day-after-day. Then it’s comfortable and I can drink my coffee and it’s a routine,” Barbosa said. 

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