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Using Art As a Way To Celebrate Culture

Photo courtesy of Lainie Alfaro

On February 1st, the Point Loma Nazarene University Asian Student Union (ASU) and Art Club, an interest group for students who enjoy art on campus, hosted their first collaborative event in honor of Lunar New Year. Around 35 students from the two groups gathered in the Keller Art Gallery to get to know one another, learn about Lunar New Year and decorate their own lanterns. 

The event began with a short presentation by Emiko Akamine, second-year political science major and co-vice president of ASU. She explained some of the history and traditions of Lunar New Year to those in attendance. 

“It was really important for me to make it at least a little bit educational so we can be more than a consumer at these types of events,” Akamine said. 

Akamine also set aside time to acknowledge the victims of the mass shooting in Monterey Park, CA, who were killed during a Lunar New Year Celebration earlier this year. 

Akamine spoke to the importance of art as a way to promote culture, education and diversity on campus. 

“I feel like art is a great way to share culture in a very digestible and palatable way, because art can just attract so many different types of people,” Akamine said. 

“For so many people, especially people of color, we don’t always have platforms or voices to share things that we are feeling very passionate about, or feel very deeply. I think art being one of those outlets is one of those ways we can engage in each other’s culture and share our experiences,” Akamine said. 

Her presentation closed with an icebreaker question so that students could get to know one another before decorating lanterns together. This was the first time that the office of Multicultural Opportunities for Students Actively Involved in Student Engagement (MOSAIC), which ASU is a part of, had partnered with Art Club. Many students had never met each other before coming to the event. 

Katie Segarra, second-year graphic design major, is a regular art club attendee. 

“I’ve been to art club before, but never ASU,” Segarra said. “It was really fun to get to know everyone from ASU, and I also learned that this year is the year of the rabbit!”

Lantern made by Katie Segarra in honor of the Year of the Rabbit

Lauren McCandless, a fourth-year graphic design major, is one of the four students who started Art Club on campus. She felt very excited about their collaboration with ASU.

“Every culture has art and appreciation for art in different ways. There’s such a wide variety, so it’s a really cool thing when we get to participate in someone else’s culture and see how beautiful and intricate all those unique things are,” McCandless said. 

McCandless also said she would be open to future collaborations with clubs on campus, including other MOSAIC groups. She noted that the purpose of the group was not just to be a space for those who consider themselves artists, but anyone who has an appreciation for art. 

Both Akamine and McCandless felt the evening was a success. PLNU students can look forward to the upcoming events that both groups have in store. ASU is planning to do a karaoke night and a Korean Barbeque run later this semester. Art Club does not have an official calendar, but they hope to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla and encourage students to visit the senior art shows in the Keller Art Gallery later this semester. 

Written By: Reyna Huff