Kutztown Univiverity got a $750 federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The SAMSA grant was meant to create a “town hall” for students on the subject of substance abuse. Let’s be honest. –How many students would actually show up for a Substance Abuse Town Hall?
Fran Cortez Funk is the university’s Director of Health Promotion and Alcohol & Other Drug Services. She came up with the idea of hacking the grant into a participatory event focused on the visual arts. She met Prof. Ann Lemon and other arts faculty to create one amazing event.
The First Ever Sharadin Creative Royal was born. The atrium and halls of Sharadin Arts Building were overflowing with creativity for one cold November night. Well over a hundred students viewed or actively participated.
Prof. Ann Lemon guided the student artists in reflection on their family and friends. She asked them to recall someone close who had been harmed by substance abuse. She led a brief meditation on loss and inspiration. Then fifty student artists competed against each other and against time to create a piece of art delivering a positive message.
Students had exactly 90 minutes to create a work of art.
Celebrity judges included Anne Marie Hayes-Hawkinson representing the KU Arts Society, Karen Stanford of the Miller Gallery, and Prof. Rhonda Wall, artist and beloved faculty emeritus.
Every participant got a bag filled with art supplies to keep. But prizes were not the point. For some it was a welcome chance to step away from the computer and grades. It was a rare chance to use traditional art supplies. The studios were filled with as much camaraderie as competition.
A senior, Omair Ali, posted his artwork on social media. He wrote, “I’ve been so caught up in schoolwork in prep for graduating, … it was nice to take a break to do some live art. Getting a chance to just breathe… and gather my thoughts and remind me of the people who motivated me to take this journey over 4 years ago.”
The Amos Lemon Burkhart Award honors the son of Prof. Ann Lemon. Amos passed away last year just as he was about to enter art school. He was a Gov. Mifflin grad and already an accomplished artist. Tragically, his problems with substance abuse led to his untimely death. You can see his art and learn more about Amos here: www.amoslemon.org Dane Burkhart, Amos’s father presented that award to Maddie Zeeman
A few students went down to the printmaking studio and managed to produce stunning etchings within the 90-minute time constraint. Erin McKormick’s landscape, left, won for Innovative Printmaking. Nick Roberts’ figurative work, right, won the Blick Technical Ability Award.
The evening included free caricatures, cookies and coffee, and a live D.J. Graduate students from the KU’s Health Promotion Services set up a station where students could learn about substance abuse and campus resources.
Fran Cortez Funk was thrilled with the success of the event. “I would have been happy if ten or twenty students showed up,” she said. “The response was just overwhelming. I am so happy.”