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SoVA BIPOC: Penn State’s Newest Art Club

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at PSU chapter.

I am a professional photography student at Penn State. I am also a Black female student and, at times, it can be difficult to find people who look like me that are just as passionate to create and showcase their art.

One of the professors in the sculpture department noticed this and decided to reach out to as many people of color art students that he could find on campus. That is how in early 2022, SoVA BIPOC was born.

SoVA BIPOC stands for The School of Visual Arts Black, Indigenous and People of Color. It is meant to be a safe and welcoming space for any and all minority art students to showcase their art. At one of our first meetings, our organizer Professor Rudy Shepherd asked what we want to achieve and see come to fruition in this organization.

One of the biggest ideas was to create an exhibition where all of us could come together and display our favorite pieces that we have created while attending Penn State. We all agreed that this was the project we wanted to see come to life before the end of the school year and we hit the ground running in order to meet the self-imposed deadline.

In April 2022, we had our first exhibition and reception in one of the art buildings on campus. It was a great success and gave us the confidence to continue to ignite the fire we had created.

In the fall of 2022, we wanted to build on our success from the last semester and pick up from where we left off. One of our main goals this year was to make SoVA BIPOC a recognized and official student organization here on campus. One of Rudy’s original ideas with the club was to leave all of the large and important tasks up to the members so that we could have total control and freedom over decisions that were made.

Six of us decided to take up the responsibility of becoming officers and completing all of the paperwork and meetings that go into making a student organization official. I took on the role of secretary because I am truly passionate about seeing this organization I care so deeply for to succeed. It wasn’t easy and it required many hours of planning and cooperation, but we knew it would be worth it in the end.

Last month, SoVA BIPOC received recognition by Penn State to officially be a student organization on campus. We were ecstatic as we knew this was just the beginning of bigger and better things for us.

SoVA BIPOC is not just an art club, it is a group of student artists who come together to make an impact on our community. We want the chance for the Penn State student body to see our artwork and recognize how many talented POC artists attend this university and to understand that opportunities like these are rarely given to minority students.

I am so proud of the amazing work these people are creating and the wonderful stories they get to tell through their art. I know that next year will be even more exciting and I hope even one person reading may want to follow us on our journey.

Madison Mendez is a third-year student at Penn State majoring in Professional Photography. She is from Orlando, Florida and is obsessed with Billie Eilish, the beach, and baking.