Art Student Union creates broad learning environment

Ahna Weydeveld, a Art Student Union member, presents her unfinished monthly art piece for other members to critique. Photo by Jenna Piper

Over the summer, art student Scott McHodgkins was enrolled in Ron Medina’s life drawing course and developed the idea to start the Art Student Union.

Although McHodgkins sparked the idea, he said the development of the Art Student Union was collaborative.

“I think a community is a community; it’s not just one person,” McHodgkins said. “I started it, but I had three other people who founded it with me, and without them, I wouldn’t have been able to go anywhere.”

With the help of Solveig Gasner, club secretary, Caroline Pring, club treasurer, and Macey Stratton, club committee chair, the Art Student Union was created and began this semester.

“I think when you take art classes it’s important to learn the fundamentals, but when you do that a lot, sometimes you get bored because it’s not the kind of artwork you want to make,” Gasner said. “So, I think it’s nice to have somewhere to take your own creative ideas and not worry about grades.”

At the beginning of each month each member puts any two words into a hat, and then the group draws two words and that is the monthly theme for the member’s gallery mandatory art pieces.

The Art Student Union also have weekly themes that they pull from a hat, and members have the option to create an art piece from that theme. McHodgkins said that while this assignment isn’t mandatory, it gives members the opportunity to create more artwork.

“Each of these themes is sort of like a restriction on our members to force themselves to create a piece within these guidelines, but I think these guidelines create the sort of creative boundaries that allow them to explore while still having a direction to head in,” McHodgkins said.

Members are free to work with any medium of their choosing, and Pring, who is an art major, said she especially likes doing advertising based graphic design and also contributes traditional artwork to the monthly galleries.  

One of the main goals of the Art Student Union is to “strengthen members art and critique skills.” McHodgkins said this gives members the chance to learn how to look critically at another member’s work and provide feedback in way that will help the artist grow.

“I think in classroom settings maybe people are a little bit nicer and maybe they don’t really say what might be wrong with a piece,” McHodgkins said. “This is a safe space that we’ve created where we can all grow together.”

Another goal of the Art Student Union is to interact with the community. McHodgkins said the group has been working on a plan to travel to Carpenter, Wyoming once a month to give kindergarten through sixth-grade students a chance to work with art since its art program was cut. Their first trip will be on Dec. 15.

McHodgkins said that anyone is welcomed to join, even if they aren’t an art major, and the only qualifications needed are the willingness to work and learn.

“I like to think of the art club not only as a way to sharpen our artistic skills, but also as a way to allow us to experiment with other artistic fields that were interested in like design, advertisement and communication,” McHodgkins said.


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