Ah, spring at Union College. The crisp feeling of rain that eventually leaves a familiar earthy scent. The sun that warms the plants around us to wake them from hibernation. These things are what make me pumped to be a student of Union College. However, other than the amazing ambiance of spring, the creative atmosphere of Union College makes me equally, if not more, excited to be a Unionite.
Union College’s celebration of creativity, from musical performances at vespers to student exhibitions in the McClelland Gallery, permeates our everyday lives on campus. Senior theology major Abner Campos says,“Union has done a great job in giving me opportunities to practice what I learn or want to learn in the field of design,” Campos adds, “Campus Ministries, Humanities Division, and Ministry Clubs and others have allowed me to practice what I learn.”
These opportunities are important because they show a value in artistic expression across multiple departments across our campus.
Union’s creative environment, to me, develops an ecosystem of creatives in which students influence each other. For example, Campos describes how this affects him creatively. “Students have surrounded me with a creative community. They have been my greatest resource for inspiration and empowerment,” Campos adds, “Alumni like Steven Foster, Aphee Messer and Zack Post have been super influential—I know that I still take after them.”
I find that this is increasingly the case for my creative life as well. Peers express new ideas about art with me and, in turn, inspire me to branch out into new and exciting areas of artistic expression I might’ve not otherwise pursued.
However, peers are not the only influence. Staff also bring unique and educational creative experiences that contribute to Union’s creative environment. Senior studio arts major Hannah Ashburn goes through the staff members that have made a significant impact on her creative life. “I learned the classic side of drawing and illustration from Mr. Mac. I learned the necessity of critique and how to loosen up when sketching from Amy Smith. I learned the complexity of color from Joyce Bingaman, and formed connections with Julia Noyes as my design teacher to help me volunteer at local art functions.” Ashburn adds, “Each professor has challenged and helped me grow in my understanding of art and change the ways that I see my and others art.” Ashburn’s experiences parallel mine in many ways. Each staff member, with the goal of expanding my artistic education, has not only succeeded but has gone above and beyond by expanding my overall creative identity.
Staff and students alike are what contribute to the amazing creative atmosphere of Union. However, we must remember an important catalyst for this environment—the Fine Arts Division. Ashburn hopes to have the Fine Arts Division grow and develop in the future. She adds, “One of my dreams is to have the art department grow, have enough interest for a Fine Arts club, and to hopefully one day showcase the student work on the walls of various departments!” I hold a similar hope,and that the creative atmosphere of Union with it will grow too! This atmosphere allows me to feel free to creatively express myself in any area of my life. From my day-to-day tasks at work to classes, artistic expression is cherished and praised.
Cameron Cizek is a sophomore guest writer studying computing.