Belmont University art students shared their time and talent Nov. 9 to help a local animal rescue with its largest fundraising event. More than 250 animal lovers attended the only animal-themed masquerade ball to help raise money for Agape Animal Rescue, a non-profit organization that has been fostering and finding homes for displaced dogs since 2004.
With admission, ball guests received custom animal masks made by local artists. Approximately 100 of the masks designed by art students from Belmont. The masquerade event was the biggest fundraising event in organization’s history and raised more than $30,000.
Each semester, art professor David Ribar chooses a large-scale art project for his senior capstone students to complete as part of their midterm grade.
“I was looking for a project that would stimulate and utilize their design and fine art skills, and I also wanted to reiterate Belmont’s mission of paying it forward,” said Ribar.
Agape Animal Ball committee member asked Ribar to have students help contribute to their fundraiser.
“Agape Animal Ball was built on the concept of having beautiful, one-of-a-kind animal masks. When reaching out to the community for support, Belmont, a school known for its excellence in the arts, was an obvious choice,” said Tanya Willis, executive director and founder of Agape Animal Rescue. “Fundraising events are vital to the work we do. With the support of the Nashville community, we have rescued, fostered and found incredible homes for more than 800 dogs. “
In efforts to instill the value of getting involved in causes that matter to them, Ribar told students that using one’s passion and energy to benefit others is essential when entering the work force.
“A job pays your bills. It’s satisfying, but there isn’t always that emotional payoff we all need when it comes to meaningful life experience,” Ribar said.
To Rachel Moore, a Belmont art student who made five animal masks for the ball, said she was excited to contribute her skills to help save dogs.
“Loving people, loving animals, loving the world, and pouring into the community changes lives,” Moore said. “As college students, we don’t have a whole lot of time or money to offer sometimes, so getting to offer this skill set that I have, I feel like it’s a great way for me to contribute. And it’s valued by the organization and the guests.”
The masks were the first things attendees saw when walking into Events on Third, the downtown venue that hosted the ball.
“Upon arrival, our guests were introduced to hundred of masks; different species, different artistic styles. The biggest element of the night’s décor was on the faces of our supporters,” said Keri-Lyn Cleaver, stage manager for Agape Animal Ball. “There were frilly masks, gothic masks, hilarious masks, cartoon-like masks, but all of them had one thing in common. They were either animal shaped or animal-print, and they were covered in colorful glitter, rhinestones and feathers.”
Willis said, “The masks were a huge hit and made our event different from all others. At the end of the day, the contributions made by Belmont art students and our other artists helped us sell tickets.”