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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Artist Exploration Association creates welcoming, accessible environment for art

Wren Johnson

Some students in search of a judgment-free, warm and welcoming community to destress and test out their art skills have found refuge within the Artist Exploration Association (AEA), a new campus organization that was founded in the spring. 

According to members Jose Lopez, a vocal music education major, and Banine Haidar, a biochemistry major and psychology minor, the cost of supplies is a concern to those interested in pursuing art.

AEA addressed this concern by charging a one-time $5 fee that members pay whenever they can. After that, everything is free, including art supplies and snacks, according to Lopez. 

Haidar said clubs such as AEA are an effective way to make art more accessible to the community.

“Not everybody in that club is a perfect artist, or good, or even an artist,” she said. “Some of them just want to be like ‘Oh, I’m very, very stressed, and I’ve got friends here, so let me go here,’ and they end up having fun.”

Members joined for the stress-free environment, according to Benjamin Anderson, a music performance major.

“I’m not much of a visual artist at all,” he said. “This isn’t for just art majors. This isn’t for people who love art and want to do it and are really good at it. It’s basically for anyone who has even any semblance of interest in art.”

Lopez said the meetings at the end of the week always give him something to look forward to.

“After a long week, it’s always nice to just chill with a bunch of people that … will be nice and accepting and loving,” he said.

The organization remains true to its name as members educate participants and help them explore various types of visual art mediums.

“We did crochet and sometimes pens, painting, all these different things,” Haidar said. “It’s perfect for what I do and aligns with my hobbies (and) interests.” 

Lopez emphasized the versatility of art and its various purposes and meanings. He also said it can be used to speak of injustice and discrimination in more serious cases.

“We understand that there’s that loving and accepting and expression side, but we also love and understand that there’s this … political expression side,” he said. “All the deeper meaning like you see behind art and what it has and what it does for social action.”

No matter what the artist uses their art for, Haidar says it alters the way you see the world.

“Being an artist helps you gain a different perspective on life, and honestly, it’s a much more fun way of life,” she said. “I’ve been able to find community in places I just didn’t think I ever would.”

Students can find AEA on ShockerSync to become an official member, and information about upcoming meetings can be found on ShockerSync or AEA’s Instagram page. Meetings are open for everyone to attend.

“AEA is a cool club,” he said. “(If you) have any interest in it, definitely don’t be afraid to show up to a meeting, (we would) love to have you. It’s a fun time.”

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About the Contributors
Genesis Merriett, Reporter
Genesis Merriett is a first-year reporter for The Sunflower. She is a sophomore majoring in mathematics, however, Merriett enjoys writing as well. She is originally from Missouri, but lived in Colorado for most of her life until moving to Wichita five years ago. Additionally, she enjoys drawing, crochet and exploring new places in her free time.
Wren Johnson, Illustrator/Designer
Wren Johnson is an illustrator for The Sunflower. Johnson is a third-year communications major that loves chickens. In her free time she likes to read, draw, and hang out with friends. Johnson uses she/her pronouns.

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