On any college campus, Karen Howard says, an art club for students is a must – even at an academic medical university, where the workloads are intense and free time is scarce.
“It’s hard to continue a hobby at this level of education,” she said.
That’s why Karen, a fourth-year student in the MD/PhD program, was pleasantly surprised to find out how much art is being created by Upstate students.
So last year she and some other students started an art club on campus. The idea was to provide a positive environment for artists, support their work and provide opportunities to exhibit it.
The informal group became an official Upstate club late last fall and put on an exhibition in April. This month the SUNY Upstate Art Club learned it has been approved for funding by the Campus Activities Governing Board.
“We have 25-plus active members from all four colleges,” Karen said. “The great thing about art is that it’s inclusive. And you do it on your own time. If you’re serious about it, you make time for it.”
Club members are serious indeed.
For the spring art show in the Health Sciences Library in Weiskotten Hall, a dozen students exhibited 25 to 30 works in a variety of media – paintings, photography, digital art, pencil, clay and freehand drawing in stencil style.
Now that the club has a budget ($575), Karen hopes to schedule lunchtime talks featuring guest speakers, and to provide supplies to offset members’ costs for exhibiting their work.
The club’s other goals include:
* An annual show in the Health Sciences Library.
* A room of its own for members to create.
* An auction or other means of selling members’ artwork.
* An annual donation of artwork to the campus.
Last year, the club was led by Karen and co-president, Mani Yahyavi-Tajabadi; pharmacology graduate student Dipmoy Nath; and medical students Charlie Jiao and Erica Brenner. Mani, a third-year medical student, was the primary artist of a huge mural for the 2013 Anatomical Gift ceremony.
Karen is president this year, with fourth-year medical student Steve Reinheimer the treasurer. Charlie is still involved and staffed the club table during the club day fair, Karen said.
In the art world, Karen is a comic artist, writing as well as illustrating graphic novels – such as “The War of Winds,” an epic fantasy she began for her high school portfolio 10 years ago in Rochester. “I love reading, but I like to visualize what the creator thinks the characters look like,” she said.
With an MD/PhD dual degree in hand in the near future, Karen is looking to specialize in either orthopedic surgery or emergency medicine – wilderness medicine in particular. “The more hands-on, the better,” she said.