Cantor celebrates new surrealist collection

Stanford puts on many spectacular events celebrating the artistic spirit of an otherwise STEM-centric campus, but none are quite as entertaining as Party on the Edge. 

This annual showcase ties in student performances and interactive arts activities to a new exhibit at the Cantor Arts Center or Anderson Collection. This year’s event focused on the artwork of self-taught surrealist painter Morris Hirshfield, whose eclectic medley of animal paintings, nude art and complementary pieces are on display at the Cantor until January. 

The exhibit, titled “Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered,” became the creative highlight of the night. It featured pieces from Hirshfield and other surrealist and self-taught artists such as Kay Sage, John Kane and Grandma Moses. 

Hirshfeld captured life in an unusual manner, drawing on his years of experience with fabric textures: the elephants in his painting resemble porcelain, the cats appear to be made from cotton and all the animals’ silhouettes are unnaturally streamlined. Even the backgrounds of the paintings feature repeated motifs, as if on cloth. These were inspired by Hirshfield’s previous career as a pattern-cutter, before he became a painter at the ripe age of 65, according to teaching artist Diane Holaday.

Outside the gallery, another kind of movement captured the attention of the attendees. Student dance and music performances highlighted cultural diversity within the artistic landscape on campus. 

Mua Lac Hong, a Vietnamese dance group, fused cultural elements like fans, ribbons and umbrellas with catchy, modern pop movements. The group’s colorful display and unexpected song choices thrilled the audience. Stanford Lion Dance, dressed in majestic but cute costumes of mythical lions, came into the seating area and interacted with the audience: The lions pretended to fall asleep on stage, prompting viewers to wake them.

A group of dancers wearing black masks and holding magenta fans.
Mua Lac Hong, a Vietnamese dance group, performed at Party on the Edge, showcasing the diversity within the artistic landscape at Stanford (Photo: AUDREY NGUYEN-HOANG/The Stanford Daily).

The second act of the night transitioned into the Anderson Collection, with performances taking place at both levels of the gallery. Ballet Folklórico de Stanford performed a traditional folk dance from Mexico, dressed in Yucatan attire reminiscent of springtime. The rhythmic steps and lively accompanying music introduced members of the gathering to a new dance form while subtly celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. 

Popular groups like Stanford Bhangra, Dv8, Alliance and XTRM laid out an impressive lineup of regional and international dance styles, while musical acts brought by Counterpoint, Richard Yuan ’25, and 3arly 5ird (Na Young Son ’25) captivated the audience with relatable tunes. 

A group of students doing crafts in a dark room lit by string lights.
Students were encouraged to engage in craft activities inspired by Cantor’s newest collection (Photo: AUDREY NGUYEN-HOANG/The Stanford Daily).

In spite of some acoustic issues with the indoor performances, Party on the Edge 2023 was a brilliant way for the two art museums at Stanford to engage and connect with the new student body. Besides watching spectacularly diverse performances, attendees were encouraged to browse the galleries and take part in craftwork as a way of expanding their global perspective. For these reasons alone, this event takes a top spot on the fall quarter bucket list — it unlocks a side of Stanford that one might not expect to see.

Editor’s Note: This article is a review and includes subjective thoughts, opinions and critiques.

Originally posted 2023-10-10 09:25:11.