Creativity Through Community: Women’s Center Launches “Community Resilience” Art Project

 

By Amira Turner 

 

   Gathered around tables in the Women’s Center on Thursday, April 4 were dozens of students participating in the Women’s Center’s latest event, a collaborative community art project. Room 227 in Ingersol was filled with the sounds of scissors snipping, markers scribbling, and friendly conversation over plates of samosas, pizza, and quiche, provided by the Women’s Center. 

   In preparation for the project, the Women’s Center set up tables lined with assorted papers, stickers, pens, markers, tapes, magazines, and every other craft material one might need to properly collage. Participants were encouraged to use the materials freely to create individual collages that will be ultimately combined into one piece and displayed in the Women’s Center. 

   According to the Women’s Center, the idea was sparked by Women’s Center employee Aissata Cisse after seeing a similar project by the Black and Latino Male Initiative Project (BLMI), which features a mosaic of a variety of flags representing the countries of origins of their members. Other members who then viewed the project became inspired to create their own version.

   “If you go into the BMLI office in James, they have a little collage art [project] with all of their flags. We thought it would be a cute idea to try to do something similar in The Women’s Center with other students,” Amber Prophete, treasurer of the Women’s Center, told The Vanguard. 

   While working on their collages, students were encouraged to think about what community and the Women’s Center means to them. The prompt spawned a myriad of responses from participants, like Women’s Center employee Mariella Gomez, who was inspired by the powerful women she works with. For Gomez, the collage reinforced the collaborative community the Women’s Center has strove to build.

   “I thought the sticker was great: ‘empowered women empower women,’ because that’s what I felt as soon as I came here: a whole bunch of women just supporting each other,” she told The Vanguard.

   Others used more abstract elements to create their collage, like Luisa Pira, Women’s Center employee and founder of the Women’s Center “Crochet and Chill” sessions. Pira chose to focus on symbolism surrounding self-love. “Here there’s a star because you’re a star […] we have a lightning bolt because lightning strikes your confidence, and that’s when you realize, ‘I’m actually so great,’” she said. 

   Participant Rabia Khalid chose to focus on a “Live, Laugh, Love” theme combined with her cultural background by writing it in her native language. “Live, Laugh, Love” is the theme, that’s why it’s written in Arabic. The Arabic just feels wholesome and lively, like it was the missing touch.” 

   To Iqura Naheed, leader of the Muslim Women’s Leadership Development Project (MWLDP) housed in the Women’s Center, the event was about fostering community. It is less about the final product and more about building connections with fellow peers, with the Women’s Center itself a facilitator in doing so.

    “I think I could highlight ‘found family,’” she told The Vanguard. “I feel that’s what this place is for a lot of people like a home away from home, people you can trust: a place where you can be unapologetic to yourself and not have to question that so you can explore what you need to explore while you’re in college.”

   The Women’s Center is looking forward to hosting more community-based events in the future, including their upcoming “Karaoke Night” and co-hosting an “Eid Community Potluck.” 

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