Experiencing Art with Creating Community

Westminster offers countless opportunities for those wishing to be involved in the arts, ranging from visual and performing arts classes to theatrical and musical shows. Many students choose to complete their required one-semester art credit as a freshman, but others choose to stay on the art track through senior year. The student-led group Creating Community caters to students of all arts interests and applies them to off-campus experiences. The group focuses on celebrating art in both local and national settings by visiting innovative areas with the goal of enriching the artistic sides of Westminster students’ minds.

The group consists of current juniors and seniors, who applied for the group at the end of the last school year. According to junior Woods Curry, his application consisted of “describing what kind of creator I consider myself to be.” He went on to explain that all students are encouraged to apply no matter their level of art experience. “We all come from different backgrounds; some students are currently enrolled in visual art or performing art classes at Westminster whereas others simply have a passion for art,” said Curry.

Even this early in the year, sophomore Zac Walpole is already looking forward to applying for next year’s group. “Creating Community is a great idea in my opinion, I oftentimes go out into the city looking for art on my own time, and I can’t wait to get involved with other students,” said Walpole.

Recently, various members of the group took a trip to Chicago, advised by Upper School English teacher Sabrina Johnson and Upper School Spanish teacher Daniel Searl. The main purpose of the trip was to explore an art community different than Atlanta’s and to get a better understanding of how artistic style can differ from area to area. “The trip was exciting and walking-intensive, but amazing in terms of learning about art in Chicago and the visible evolution of architecture expressed by the diverse building designs,” said senior Will Mills. While in Chicago, the group toured the city’s iconic sights while also delving into lesser-known museums, tours, and expos, particularly EXPO Chicago. This local expo, founded in 1980, runs once every year providing international contemporary and modern arts exhibits. Some of this year’s highlights included “Memorabilia” (2018) by Liliana Porter, “Basketball Court Installation” (2018) by William Lachance, and “Flag Wave” (2016) by Philippe Decrauzat.

Some other Westminster students’ highlights include an architectural boat tour of Chicago, a visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art, and simply learning about the different art culture in Chicago. Curry specifically liked the trip because of the different outlook from which he was able to view that art that he saw. “Overall, the trip offered us the chance to experience art in a professional way,” said Curry. Upon returning to Westminster, the group shared many great stories of their Chicago adventures and even excited some of the underclassmen, such as sophomore Aydin Bandukwala, about the opportunity in future years. “I’d love to go to Chicago with Creating Community in the future, I love touring cities and architecture,” said Bandukwala.

Aside from the Chicago trip, Creating Community has been active within the Atlanta community as well. Particularly, the group attended the Atlanta Lantern Parade in September on the Beltline. The Lantern Parade celebrates the annual Art on the Atlanta BeltLine exhibition, the largest temporary art exhibition in the South. This festival is unique in that anybody who wishes to participate must make their own unique lantern. “We all decided on a fruits and vegetables theme, but each made our own lanterns,” said Curry. Creating Community specifically chose to attend this event because it allowed them celebrate with a large community of Atlanta artists. “We went to the lantern festival to participate in an artistic celebration with the Atlanta community,” said Mills. “The wide range of creativity dumbfounded me as I saw the different styles of art and the different interpretations of what lanterns could become with a touch of creativity.  I left feeling inspired to think along my own interests while wanting to use my creativity to potentially inspire others.”

This year, attendance at the Atlanta Lantern Parade broke a record with approximately 60,000 people in attendance. The large audience led to several members of the group describing the festival as “chaotic,” “exciting,” and “energizing.” Sophomore Cabot Kimball attended the festival with friends and commented similarly on the exotic atmosphere. “Everybody was so excited at the festival! I’m definitely interested in applying to Creating Community and returning to the parade next year!” said Kimball.

Through the local trip to the Lantern Parade and national trip to Chicago, the group was able to gain two different experiences. “Differently from Chicago, the lantern parade showed us how communities come together in order to celebrate the creations of others,” said Curry.

While plenty of other arts opportunities are available on campus, such as theatre, performing arts, and visual arts, Creating Community takes the best of all worlds and goes out into our own communities and further to experience art through a different filter. The group has many plans in store for later this school year and even next year, including revisiting Chicago’s annual Art Expo. Current group members encourage anybody to apply, no matter your current artistic ability or knowledge, as Creating Community ensures a fun and alternate way to learn about and experience the culture of art throughout our own community and the world.