Student Art Society fosters community for UTSA artists

Gauri Raje, News Editor

The Student Art Society is an on-campus organization that hosts activities, art workshops, art-related outings and artist talks, among other activities. It was started by Christina Zhang in 2019. 

The Society currently has five officers: President Sydney Archer, a junior communication major with a minor in anthropology; Vice President Kaybee Beggs, a sophomore biomedical engineering major; events coordinator Yadira Silva, a senior art major; Treasurer Joseph Sanchez, a sophomore art major with a minor in psychology; and Communications Officer Aseneth Quintanilla, a senior public health major. 

Becoming a part of the club

Archer, Beggs, Silva and Sanchez have all been a part of the club for approximately a year. While they come from different academic backgrounds, their reasons for joining the club are united by the common theme of a love for art and finding a sense of community through the organization.

Archer came to UTSA as a transfer student and joined the club to make new friends.

“I always have done art, and so I figured [the club] was perfect,” Archer said. “And it was really the chillest club, the most calming and welcoming environment that I’ve been to out of any other clubs that I tried out. [I] instantly made friends.”

Like Archer, Sanchez also joined the society to socialize and meet people. 

“I’d already done one semester, and that was my first time moving into a completely different state, [a new city], so I needed to find some way where I can socialize,” Sanchez said. 

Beggs wanted to branch out and decided to join the club, eventually becoming friends with Archer.

“I started because I wanted to be in [an] art club because I’m not an art major, and I love art,” Beggs said. “I stayed because I really enjoy speaking to new people and seeing what other people can create.”

Silva joined the club to check it out and ended up applying for an officer position after getting more involved. 

“I saw the opportunity for officers to apply, and I was like, ‘Hey, this is something I’m really interested in,’’’ Silva said. “I really like organizing things and bringing people together. What has kept me here is going to the meetings and seeing the things that people make and just bringing people together in that way.”

Personal art journey

Courtesy of Student Art Society

Archer, Sanchez, Silva and Beggs also shared their journey with art over the years.

Sanchez talked about being surrounded by art from a young age.

“To me, art is not only a huge passion for me; it’s something that’s been a constant since I’ve pretty much been born,” Sanchez said. “To me, art is definitely a huge factor as a part of my life and my being. I’ve always just enjoyed being around it and being surrounded by it.”

Beggs has also been making art since a young age.

“I’ve been involved with art since I was little because my mom would make me craft stuff instead of watching TV,” Beggs said. “My hands have always been working.”

Silva expressed a love for creating, highlighting the practical implications of art in everyday life, including skills like critical thinking and thinking outside of the box. 

“A lot of the skills that are taught in art and learning different art practices can be translated into different [aspects] in your life,” Silva said. “I also love the way that art brings people together. When people make art together, it’s a really beautiful thing.”

For Archer, art is a form of expression and an outlet.

“The most important thing [about art for me] is being able to have your visions turn into reality, like being able to envision something that you want and physically being able to do it creatively,” Archer said. “Like everybody else, I’ve done it since I was little. I’ve always been able to have [art] as an outlet. It was always just something that was there.”

Weaving the club and art into college

As a biomedical engineer, the club’s meetings helped Beggs unload a hectic academic schedule.

“It’s really relaxing to go in there and be surrounded by people who you like, and you have fun with and have good relationships with,” Beggs said. 

On the other hand, as an art major, Sanchez described the club as being a way to break away from the constraints that assignments and classes tend to place when creating art.

“[As art majors], we do a lot of stuff for grades and being a part of this club, we kind of have [the freedom to do] whatever we want, not necessarily for the critique of a professor,” Sanchez said. “We’re doing it for ourselves.”

Activities and meetings

Silva is tasked with organizing the club’s meetings as the Events Coordinator. 

“Some of the things that I do in my personal art, I try to bring into the club,” Silva said. “I feel like that has pushed me to experiment with different things that I can bring into the meetings.”

This is true for all of the officers who try to incorporate the skills they learn outside the club into its activities and events. The officers also take suggestions from the club’s members.

“A lot of the times, we like to do our meetings based [on] what our officers can present,” Beggs said.

“We’ll do a[n] officer meeting, and we’ll shoot ideas and see what the pros and cons of them,” Archer added. 

Significance of the club

For Archer, who tends to have online classes, the club has been an outlet to see people to socialize with. 

“[The club has] kind of engulfed my college life,” Archer said. “It’s everything now, besides my classes and stuff.”

A lot of the students that join the club are freshmen who start off being intimidated but end up loving the club and the people they meet. 

“You’re growing a small community, and it’s really fun to see,” Archer added.

Joining the club

Courtesy of Student Art Society

The club has no membership requirements, and students from all majors are welcome. The officers also try to keep most of the club’s meetings free to ensure they are accessible to all students.

“The door is open to everyone,” Sanchez said. “There’s no alienating anyone out of the club. If you feel like this is something that’s a fit for you, walk in, sit down [and] join one of our meetings. It’s as simple as it could be.”

“It’s really cool to see the scope of different people that come to our meetings,” Silva said. 

Archer also emphasized that students don’t need to be good at art to join or get involved. 

 “We really try to make sure that everybody’s feeling safe. It’s like a safe space for them to be able to express themselves creatively,” Archer said.