The newly-formed Mississippi State University Art Outreach Team blends creativity and service to provide artistic enrichment and socialization for various groups in the community.
“The purpose (of the Art Outreach Team) is to get art out into the community by also helping the community, so it’s raising awareness about the importance of art by doing outreach, too,” said Hannah Phillips, a junior club member and MSU English major.
Currently, the club has about 10 committed members who prepare art materials, help with the projects and are required to participate in fundraising. One of the main tenets of the club is that the projects are free to the groups the club is helping.
The club’s current fundraising efforts include selling donuts on the Drill Field and the "paint-a-pal" raffle, where supporters can buy $1 raffle tickets for a chance to have a portrait of their pet painted by Provine.
The club, composed of a variety of majors, provides a great creative outlet to students who love art but are not studying it in school, which was one of Provine’s goals in forming the club. Provine said the club has opened members’ eyes to local service opportunities and has inspired them to get involved even more in the community.
“At the Boys and Girls Club, one of our members actually became a mentor over there, and now we’re working with the ACCESS students and one of our members is trying to be an ACCESS mentor, so I’d say it opens your eyes to different service organizations or groups of overlooked people in the area, and makes you want to volunteer with them more,” Provine said.
Phillips said she loves getting to know the kids they work with.
“I just really enjoyed painting and talking to them about their lives and what they like to do, so we got to talk to them and spend time with them and learn about them and make them feel like they were doing something for themselves that they can be proud of and just get to know them. It was a lot of fun,” Phillips said.
Last semester, the club completed its first project, an interactive mural with the local Boys and Girls Club. The club members painted black outlines on canvases, and the older kids painted in the outlines, almost like a coloring book, while the younger kids made feathers and cut out leaves. The club members then combined all the elements to make a giant wall mural of two brightly colored parrots.
“We did an interactive mural for them to hang up, make it a little bit more beautiful and also something they can see every day that they actually got to work on and be proud of,” Phillips said.
This semester, the club is working on a similar project with the ACCESS students on MSU’s campus, according to Katelyn Provine, a senior microbiology major and the club’s founder and president.
“It’s going to be based on the theme for their end-of-the-year banquet, which is future and dreams, so it’s a girl holding up a star in the sky,” Provine said. "They all voted on the design, which is really cool, and I’ve been meeting with the ACCESS students who want to make their own art club almost every week."
The club’s faculty sponsor, Angie Latham, said bringing art to the ACCESS students opens up a whole new world for them.
“Well, if you really think about it, no matter what disability you have, people seem to limit you on what you are able to do, so it gives them a world that may not have been available to them previously, it opens up a world of creativity and allows them to express themselves as well,” Latham said.
Provine said the idea for the club was inspired by a class she took in high school that created projects for free for cornerstones of the community. From there, the idea evolved into not just making art for groups in the community, but including the groups in the creation of the art.
“Originally, I wanted to do works of art for police stations and city halls, but then when I was actually thinking about who I wanted to go to and do a project for, it turned out that I was more interested in making it interactive, so I think the purpose of our projects is for the experience of those that we’re interacting with,” Provine said.
Latham spoke highly of Provine and her heart for art and the community.
“I feel like she started something in the best way possible to actually open the world of creativity to everybody, so I want to make sure she is really acknowledged in this because she has done a really great job with it,” Latham said.
The club’s current project with the ACCESS students will be unveiled at the ACCESS students’ end-of-the-year banquet. Future plans for the club include working with groups, such as middle schools, retirement homes and homes for abused women and foster homes.