The Birth of a New Student Group: Amateur Art Club

An executive board member’s perspective on creating an art activity space for the non-artistic.

Artwork by Cameron Smith

Artwork by Cameron Smith

The University of Minnesota’s Amateur Art Club is a new student group created for students who enjoy art for various reasons, such as stress relief, practicing creative thinking, or simply for fun. There are no requirements—members don’t need to be art prodigies. The group is available for everyone, even if a member has never touched a paintbrush to a canvas.

Our principal reason for forming this club was to give students a place where they can relieve stress and relax while creating something beautiful.

AAC hopes to create a group that includes 100 percent amateurs who have free reign to work on any kind of art while in good company. The executive board wants its members to not have to worry about being critiqued or judged—we are all in the same boat.

I don’t consider myself an artistic person, but I enjoy photography, painting, and drawing. That’s one of the reasons why I am a part of the AAC’s executive board which consists of Avi Shaver, Lindsey Rederer, Sophie Wolf, and Krista Garrett.

Garrett had the idea of creating the club. She pursued her idea of creating an art club by posting on the University’s Class of 2020 Facebook page to see how many people would be interested in joining. Through her post, she met Avi Shaver who then created an AAC Facebook page, resulting in new members. The executive board plans to continue spreading the word about AAC through social media.

The members of the executive board decided not to have set titles, such as president or vice president. “A lot of the time titles create a sense of hierarchy, and we didn’t want that,” said Garrett. The club does not have complete structure and order; it’s a free space to let people join and feel comfortable with one another.

When I asked Shaver what benefits he thinks he will gain from joining the Amateur Art Club, he said, “less stress, more friends who enjoy doing like-minded things, as well as having something fun to do after school.”

From my experience as a first-year student, stress is an everyday occurrence. The strategies I’ve tried to relieve stress are mostly effective—ignoring everything and taking a nap—but these approaches are not particularly productive. Relieving stress through art is productive because students can let out their worries in a piece and finish creating with a sense of accomplishment. In AAC, I can do this all while meeting new people with the same interests.

Members of the executive board are freshmen at the University of Minnesota. Together, we make a wide array of majors, but we all enjoy the act of art. The majors of the executive board members range from Journalism and Communications to Child Psychology to History and Jewish Studies. The members of the executive board have art projects of our own that we each enjoy. Avi Shaver takes photos; Lindsey Rederer doodles, makes jewelry and collages; Krista draws to relieve her stress; and I appreciate the art of photography and painting, among other things.

The first few meetings will consist of meeting at a space between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and having the free time to do any art project we desire. If that’s too much freedom, then we will create a theme for each meeting. Themes would be decided weekly before each meeting but an example would be a holiday theme or a color theme.

As of now we will have members bring their own tools to work with at our meetings. By being an official club, we receive money to purchase tools, but there isn’t a way to predict what kind of art projects members want to do, so for now, members will bring their own supplies.

The details will be smoothed out in the next week and the following week we will begin our hang outs. The executive board is still arranging a room to hold its meetings. Students and amateur artists can stay updated on the club by following our Facebook page, UMN Amateur Art Club.