A collaboration between a student club, ArtNet, and the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) led to a student-initiated art expo called Becoming. It was hosted on the cloudy evening of the March 21 at the Diamond Alumni Centre at the Burnaby campus. Becoming was an open invitation event aimed at encouraging student engagement in various forms of art.
The event served food and had a cash bar for all attendees, which cozied the event’s atmosphere. With more than 10 art pieces spread across the room, students gathered around, sharing food and thoughts about all the pieces.
ArtNet’s vision — “To engage the SFU community and to create an art community that will inspire, educate and excite art enthusiasts” — echoed at the event as the artists and observers conversed. One of the artists, Rajdeep K. Grewal, expressed, “I did a poetry piece and I think it’s still raw, but I’m so excited that they chose to include it in the expo.” Grewal contributed a poem called “Post-Graduation Blob” under the literary art category. “The poem is a rendition and a compilation of my experiences, achievements and anxieties through my undergrad,” (s)he stated. Grewal recently graduated as a psychology major and stated that ArtNet genuinely fostered student creativity.
Becoming consisted of visual art, digital art, literary art, and art installations which was assembled on the day of — a multidisciplinary effort. The collaborators from SFSS’s Board of Directors, namely president Larissa Chen and at-large representative Mudi Bwakura, took active interest in the proceedings of the event as well as its organization. Chen explained why working with ArtNet on this event was one of a kind: “It’s about highlighting and empowering students groups to host events and projects by themselves, rather than [the] SFSS organizing campus activities; grassroots approach and internal initiatives are always better.”
Adding to Chen, Bwakura explained how Becoming came into being. “The beauty of this event is that the organizer pitched the idea of an art expo to [the] SFSS, and we ensured that it was plausible financially — realistic in regards to the scope and expectation of the event. Most importantly, we made sure that we delivered an event that stayed true to its concept as well as SFSS’s mandate.”
He elaborated, “The Society is slowly steering towards such collaborative, proactive engagement with students where we can meet mid-way. However, there is always more response when the Society makes an effort as well; my email flooded with art submissions for today’s event.” Chen stressed, “When students reach out to us, we will do everything in our ability to support everyone.”
ArtNet’s founder, Theo Lekan, is one of the main driving forces behind the vision and the student who reached out to SFSS about Becoming. When asked about the purpose of the art expo, Lekan said, “There wasn’t life at Burnaby in terms of art. I feel art adds more life to an environment and we wanted to foster an art community through ArtNet.”
ArtNet has organized other events such as Life Figure Joy, where students practiced drawing and sketching. Next semester, a printmaking workshop is underway, but Lekan stressed the importance of the art expo. “It emphasizes how students from different backgrounds and degrees could exist in one room and contribute to art,” he said. Contributors included a math student, a chemistry student, an athlete, and several other non-arts-related students.
A first-year IAT student, Aritra Mukhopadhyay, painted an art piece called “We are One” specifically for the expo overnight. He detailed how Becoming reminded him to embrace the artist within him, “I want SFSS and ArtNet to host more events of this nature so that I could get a platform to showcase my work constantly.” Mukhopadhyay’s work was a visual art piece of a Buddha wrapped in a leaf symbolic of enlightenment and as Buddha becoming one with the nature.
Lekan explained that such professional spaces boost a student’s confidence in pursuing their inner artist. Becoming centred on a perfect balance of student-based and student-led event that strengthens the SFU community and everyone open to it.