Exploring the Student Visual Arts Organization
Published: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 29, 2012 18:11
With internationally known artists guiding members, one club at UB strives to spread its passion and knowledge for art to students of all academic fields.
The Student Visual Arts Organization (SVAO) is a Student Association club dedicated to prompting the arts outside the classroom. SVAO bridges the gap between being an art student and getting involved with the art community. However, even though its primary focus is on the arts, non-art majors are welcome as well.
“We try to make our meetings and outings as fun and accessible to everyone as possible through offering intro-level workshops and fun activities to explore all the areas of the UB Visual Studies Department,” said Caitlin Caldwell, a senior communication design major and vice president of SVAO.
Caldwell works mostly in letterpress printing. She mixes traditional letterpress printing with digital typography. She studies how their relationships work to influence communication.
Because UB academics are primarily science-based, it is important to have SVAO as an outlet for those students interested in the arts, according to Ned Semoff, a senior communication design major and president of SVAO.
Caldwell hopes a variety of students will attend the club’s meetings. She thinks students studying science could benefit from talking to art students. Science students could take what they learned through the SVAO meetings back to their science programs and apply them to their studies, Caldwell said – the same way art students can benefit from talking to science students.
Each week, students discuss the various concentrations within the visual studies department, such as painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, printmaking, communication design and emerging practices.
Even though UB is not necessarily an art school, it does not have to mean students’ art education has to suffer, according to Caldwell.
“The faculty here are nationally and internationally known practicing artists, with his or her own life experiences as artists to share,” Caldwell said. “The fact that UB is a research university isn’t only applicable to the science fields offered, it lends itself extremely well to the arts also.”
She hopes the club will help with her career because of the networking opportunities presented. One goal of SVAO is to maintain valuable relationships with local galleries and established artists, according to Caldwell.
UB’s visual studies program is very forward-thinking. It allows students the opportunity to experiment and find how their artistic practices take shape. It also allows for students to try out and meld together different concentrations to create entirely new forms of art, according to Semoff.
Semoff likes how the professors are supportive of all students. He said they encourage freethinking and the development of the individual as an artist by exploring all of the options presented here at UB. A lot of art schools tend to be very traditional in their methods, he said. In contrast, UB is definitely more experimental, according to Semoff. This added to the reason he decided to attend UB as an undergraduate student.
“When I was applying to schools, I was just realizing I wanted to do something with design,” Semoff said. “I wanted to have a full liberal arts degree and I also wanted to have the option to change majors, just in case, if I didn’t like what I was studying. After visiting UB I knew this was going to be my first choice and it was probably one of the best decisions I made.”
After Semoff graduates, he hopes to work as a designer in a marketing firm or become a creative director of a design firm, which would include taking the lead on graphic projects and advertisements.
The funding for SVAO comes directly from SA; however, SVAO often uses the resources and professors in the department to supplement budgeting.
“We have made it kind of a personal challenge to do as many of our activities as cheaply as possible,” said Brittney Dullin, a senior printmaking major and treasurer of SVAO. “We hold open figuring drawing every week, which allows us to have a small, but fairly steady trickle of extra funding.”
Even though SVAO is capable of employing various helpful professors, such as Jeff Sherven, a visual studies professor who helps administratively, it is primarily a student-run operation.
The students advertise for the club primarily in the Center for the Arts building because it is the central location of all visual study students, according to Semoff.
In the first few weeks of the semester, a banner is also displayed in the Student Union. Every Artist Talks, also know as EATS, is the slogan used to advertise the club.
“I saw signs my freshman year around the Center For the Arts,” Caldwell said. “We hope our marketing efforts has increased our visibility from when there used to just be a couple fliers around.”
SVAO wants students of all talents to come to its meetings and learn about art at UB. Anyone who is interested in getting involved in the arts or just has a curiosity for art is welcome to stop by their meetings every Thursday in the Visual Studies Lounge.