By Sarah Stortz
One student saw a gap in how Iowa City artists communicate with each other and sought to eliminate it.
University of Iowa junior Nick Wang formed a project called “Collaboration of All The Arts,” or COATA, after noticing different types of artists were isolated from each other.
“Any art form you do, we want it,” Wang said. “There are music festivals, there are art festivals, there are film festivals, but there’s not that one place where all art forms are equal, and we’re just trying to fight that and knock down those boundaries.”
As the name suggests, the project celebrates art in all of its forms. On Dec. 2, COATA held an event at The Space, 287 N. Linn St., and decorated the walls with fine arts of diverse styles, with visual artists discussing their creative protocol. Later in the night, dancers and musicians took to the stage, performing from a vast array of genres. Featured art included paintings, drawings, dancers, graffiti art, music, film, and culinary work.
Wang pushed COATA to be the largest arts event in Iowa City, with his biggest hope being artists to learn from each other.
“I know there’s so many artists that could be helping each other,” he said. “They come here and they’re honestly trading skills. I’m not creating an art community, I’m creating a community driven by art.”
The first event for COATA took place in late September inside a residence. Because the event was a huge success, Wang was ready to develop the latest installment, wondering how to make it bigger and better than before.
In hopes of pushing the next collaboration to a larger scale, he attempted to recruit more artists from the area.
“I know there’s that one person sitting in their basement right now that’s working on something very cool, but doesn’t have a place to have their voice heard or have their art shown to a mass audience,” Wang said.
Nick Meister, a featured artist who specializes in watercolors, was recruited by Wang after showing his work at a gallery downtown.
“I’m really happy to be a part of it, and I hope there will be more to come,” Meister said. “I’d like to see more of this community.”
UI senior Jonathan Petrou, another featured artist, specializes in digital art, showcasing an animation display with hallucinatory visuals.
“Once [Wang] told me about the idea, I was sold on it,” Petrou said. “A lot of the community has their stand-alone places, but when you bring it together all into one, it brings a community of creative minds all together to share their creative differences and become one.”
After the success of COATA’s latest installment, Wang hopes that people will visit future venues.
“If you have any idea what it takes to be an artist and be that vulnerable to self-express, you would understand how important COATA is to everyone,” Wang said. “In my opinion, art is one the rawest ways to self-express, and a lot of people [did that Dec. 2].”