Art Matters at Georgia Tech
During her first semester at Tech, business administration major Annie Son noticed that something about her life had changed – she wasn’t interacting with art like she used to, and many of her classmates weren’t either.
“Devoting time to art is often the first thing new students forgo,” Son said. “A lot of students don’t think it will help them be successful because, on the surface, it doesn’t appear to connect with their academics or career goals.”
But Son realized that art was connected to her success, and crucially so. She noted that art, in addition to its intrinsic value, helps individuals become better communicators, better risk takers, and better empathizers.
Son joined with a group of students who were creating an arts advocacy think tank that worked with campus organizations to promote the arts. Her time at the think tank inspired Son to found Art Matters, a student collective to spotlight and strengthen the arts in and around Georgia Tech.
“Our mission is to support students in their creative endeavors by providing them with resources and opportunities to produce, construct, and develop,” Son said. “We want to help students feel empowered. We also want to expose the campus to more creative opportunities and to disseminate information on why the arts are important.”
One of Art Matters’ first ventures was the Piano Project in 2015, done in collaboration with the Office of the Arts and School of Industrial Design.
“The Office of the Arts worked with an industrial design class to transform a piano in order to facilitate interaction,” said Son. “Art Matters decorated and stenciled this piano and set it out a week before finals. Even people who could not play the piano could interact with it by coloring and drawing on it with chalk. It became known as the ‘Stress-Less’ piano.”
Since that original project, Art Matters and the Office of the Arts have worked with Pianos for Peace to bring even more pianos on campus. Students have no doubt seen pianos pop up at various locations across campus throughout their time at Tech.
Art Matters offers an array of events and projects throughout the semester. They work with the Office of the Arts to spotlight the annual Clough Art Crawl, putting on a host of free workshops and events that focus on everything from music to visual arts.
The organization also hosts events like ArtHacks, a 12-hour marathon in which teams create an art piece together, and an art expo where students can take workshops and share their creative projects.
Coffee+Art is a biweekly series hosted every other Tuesday at Under the Couch, where students drink coffee and discuss art. Usually the events feature a prompt, such as ‘how do you use art for self-care,’ to get the discussion started, but Son says the conversations can move just about anywhere.
“It’s really refreshing to have a space to talk about the arts with other students,” said Son. “It’s probably the event that we are most known for.”
As Son prepares to graduate in May, she wants Art Matters to continue doing what it always has.
“We want to be really intentional with everything we do. We always ask ourselves if what we are doing fits our core mission,” she said. “I really hope to see further collaboration with other student groups on campus.”
Students who want to get involved in Art Matters can visit artmatters.tech. To see upcoming events like Coffee+Art, visit facebook.com/artmattersgt.
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