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Hunter Atkin talks about his performing arts journey at WOU

Chrys Weedon | Entertainment Editor

Hunter Atkins describes performance art as the “purest form of art,” stating, “It only happens once in front of the audience and it’s shared with the audience, and then it’ll never happen again. And it’s very… emotional and straight from the heart and it’s unmonetized. So, nobody gains anything from it but the art.”

Hailing from Salem, Oregon, Atkin is currently a senior set to graduate in the spring. Atkin’s craft is truly eclectic — he studies theater and has been involved in numerous straight plays on campus; he sings and dances; he also creates performance art. More recently, Atkin has been focusing on poetry and writing music. After graduation, the BFA student plans to move to a big city– such as Chicago or LA– to make his art a career.

Originally, Atkin came to Western to study nursing. The artist’s sister was also enrolled in the nursing program, and that’s part of the reason he enrolled.

“I was like ‘Okay, nursing pays, I’m not sure I’m going to like it, I’m going to go for it.’” By the end of his freshman year, Atkin had auditioned for the BFA program.

Throughout his studies, Atkin has seen a lot of support for the arts.

“(Western’s programs) give us so many opportunities to do things we would never be able to do in the real world.” Western funds a rehearsal space, workshops and improv coaches. A program called “5 O’Clock Shadow” is also offered, which allows student artists to create their own shows. A rehearsal space is provided, as well as show dates and the performance space itself — the Black Box in Rice Auditorium.

It was difficult for Atkin to choose his favorite artistic project at Western, but he eventually chose his semi-recent performance art piece, “Love.” On his reasons behind this choice, Atkin responded, “my performance art is probably the thing I’m most proud of because I wrote it all myself, start to finish, and I put a lot of myself in it and I was really vulnerable with the audience.”

Hunter commented that the most salient lesson he’s learned during his studies was experiencing rejection. Even when professors or other artists are giving criticisms that may feel hard to handle, “…afterward when you work on the things that you really sucked at, it just feels like you’re building yourself up. It’s really cool to be able to do that in a safe space.” Atkin believes that Western provides a safe environment in which artists can work on their craft, whereas the “real world” doesn’t offer those same opportunities.

Atkin’s advice for first-year students?

“Let college kind of happen to you, because eventually you’re going to find something that you stick to, that you’re really passionate about that you like a lot, and then follow that.”


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Photo courtesy of Hunter Atkin