Arts & Living: A semester in review

Taylor Swift released her pop album "1989" to record-breaking sales, then broke up with Spotify and released a hugely successful music video for her single "Blank Space" from the album. Jana Zills via Flickr Creative Commons

Finals period is quickly approaching, and we’ve reached the part of the semester when students realize just how much they didn’t get done in the past three months. Even studying all year, those final projects are bound to sneak up on you, and chances are, amidst all the assignments, staying updated in the arts and culture scene hasn’t been a top priority. Have no fear — the Daily Arts department is here with a semester review to catch you up on what you might have missed.

Some of the semester’s most exciting events took place in our own backyard. Drama majors and non-majors alike impressed their peers in on-campus productions, including: She Loves Me” (1963), “The Children’s Hour” (1934) and “From Orchids to Octopi” (first performed in 2010). The productions tackled topics ranging from evolution to love letters. Other students, like musician Lila Ramani and painter Neha Sandeep, made their own ripples in campus culture while pursuing independent projects. Of course, not all the entertainers on the Hill were students; the fifth annual Cage Rage concert featured STRFKR and Gentlemen Hall, along with headliner MS MR, generating mixed responses among concertgoers.

It wasn’t all art for good fun, either. Students held the first ever Indigenous People’s Day Rally on Oct. 13, following Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate passing a resolution urging the university to reconstitute Columbus Day as Indigenous People’s Day. Nearby in Arlington, Mass., Mad in America held its first international film festival, where students were invited to explore new perspectives on the mental health system. These activist events preceded the larger recent Indict Tufts march and similar movements around the country.

The Daily also caught up with a few Tufts alumni making their names in the real world. Jill Lepore (LA ’87) published her book “The Secret History of Wonder Woman” on Oct. 28, which explores the famous character’s mysterious origins and the controversial life of her creator through the lens of American feminism. October also held in store a conversation with Meredith Turits (A ’09), one of the founding editors of Bustle, about the future of journalism. And with any luck, Tufts University Television (TUTV) alumni Noam Ash (A ’13) and Austin Bening (A ’13) will soon see their original “My Gay Roommate” miniseries, based on their first-year experience at Tufts, become a full-length show.

Fall brought with it a slew of new films fated for box office and Academy Award success. The latest installment of “The Hunger Games” raked in ticket sales, as did “Gone Girl,” the thriller based on Gillian Flynn’s popular novel. Somewhat more esoteric films like “Interstellar” and “Birdman quickly became critical favorites, though audiences generally responded less enthusiastically.

Those who consider themselves homebodies need not leave their beds to catch up on the culture scene. On television, the highly anticipated premiere of How to Get Away with Murder” (2014 – present) proved full of potential, as did season three of popular series “The Mindy Project” (2012 – present). Other series like Amazon’s “Transparent” (2014 – present) and HBO’s “Olive Kitteridge” (2014) came out more quietly but likewise gripped audiences with their subtle intricacies.

This semester also came with an explosion of new albums — everything from Les Sins’ indie chillwave soundtrack “Michael” to pop sensations like Taylor Swift’s “1989.Speaking of Swift, the artist made headlines after pulling her music from Spotify, to the chagrin of those hoping to enjoy the album for free, and again with the release of her widely viewed “Blank Space” (2014) music video. Time will only tell what the next phenomenon will be.

Yes, now’s the time when everyone is getting too busy to enjoy themselves, but a few opportunities, such as access to the “Goya: Order and Disorder” exhibit at the MFA, remain open and free to students through the end of the semester. So, take a few study breaks. This semester has been full of new releases and artistic endeavors, and the next one promises to be just as exciting.