As a chemistry major, it’s not very often that Samantha Saggese, S’15, gets a chance to sit down and brush up a painting for pleasure!
Sam, a resident-assistant for West Village A, is always looking for ways to involve the residents in fun group activities that encourage a sense of community and foster creativity in a non-academic environment. Inspired by the increasing popularity of paint bars around Boston, Samantha and her fellow RA Deena Magdy, Bouve’15, decided to plan a Painting and Mocktails night for their group of residents, complete with strawberries and painting materials. And, to make it even more fun, they decided to enlist the help of Art Faculty Sophia Ainslie for the less-artistically inclined students, like themselves. Sophia Ainslie, who teaches Art at Department of Art + Design, has made it her life mission to introduce drawing and painting to all with a passion for creativity.
The evening began with Sophia handing out a variety of paintings by Vincent Van Gogh, one of her favorite Post Impressionist painters. The students were encouraged to use the printouts as a source of inspiration or a point of departure for their own work. Sophia briefly explained the techniques of Van Gogh, especially focusing on his celebration of color and his use of color to create a sense of light and dark and to add an element of surprise in his work. Students then began to work on their own paintings. For two hours, they painted in the relaxed social environment, working in tables of 2-3 people, enjoying mocktails and strawberries. “It was a great way to unwind,” Samantha said.
“Plus, it was a great way for students to share their common passion for painting, as well as networking with Art faculty. If anyone was interested in pursuing an art class, they now know who to talk to,” she added when asked about what this experience offered students.
For Samantha, it was the first time she had painted in years, and she wasn’t alone. The group was a mixture of students ranging from self-identified painters as well as complete beginners. “It created a really eclectic dynamic and made it so students were able to learn from each other as well as Sophia, who has a unique ability to give individualized advice while pointing out all of the interesting, beautiful things the students are doing,” she said.
When asked what motivates her to interact with students in this unique setting, Sophia said that there is something exciting about interacting with students outside of the classroom. “It’s an informal and relaxed gathering of people engaged in intensive discussion,” she said.
The event’s vibrant environment and tone was evident as students explored their creativity and experimented with paint. And they weren’t the only ones to enjoy the event. “There were lots of questions, laughter, and chatter. Around 7:30, I even lost my voice,” Sophia said. Students enjoyed working with Sophia and were enthused about the idea of participating in a similar program again.
Writing by Julie Ryu, Comm Studies, S’15
Photos by Anthony Gentles, Digital Art, S’15