When it comes to creative expression, many Bobcats are coloring outside the lines. Student artists are making an effort to break barriers, express themselves and find success through their chosen creative outlet.
According to the American Psychological Association, creativity leads to personal fulfillment and can even be therapeutic. Those who have a creative outlet experience positive academic and professional outcomes.
Through talent and a chosen medium, important messages are conveyed and art is redefined.
Benji Wolf, a freshman studying music production and recording industry, makes art in the form of music. Wolf started recording and releasing experimental jazz and psychedelic R&B just over a year ago under the name, “BENJI & Their Orchestra.”
Dec. 13, Wolf will release an Extended Play titled “Music for an Elevator.” Through his art, Wolf aims to change the listener's moods, connect with them on a personal level and, in some cases, save a life.
“That’s kind of my goal, just to connect with people, bring authenticity, human connection and light to people who need it,” Wolf said.
Wolf also explained that sometimes, making music is a coping mechanism.
“Some songs need to be for me and sometimes they're just like little therapy sessions for myself,” Wolf said.
Similarly, A.C. Gunzelmann, a freshman studying English, said his creative outlet acts as an escape from everyday life.
Gunzelmann is a writer of novels and poetry. His art takes place through character creation. Gunzelmann’s goal is to use the power of words to make people feel seen.
“I want to create representation for queer people because a lot of the representation is very one-dimensional,” Gunzelmann said. “There’s a lot of romance novels and stuff for queer people, but there isn’t a lot of exploration into other genres.”
The apparent need for LGBTQIA+ representation in all genres of literature has inspired Gunzelmann to write queer horror. His creative process is simple.
“The plan is that there is no plan,” Gunzelmann said. “I come up with the idea and then I start writing it and then I just keep going. I usually let the characters guide the plot more so than the plot guiding the characters.”
Like Gunzelmann, Laura Kamper, a junior studying ceramics, said her creative process is spontaneous. Once she has an idea, she allows it to flow freely.
“It just kind of comes out,” Kamper said. “Not every detail is planned, and it just is a chaotic mess, but in a good way.”
Kamper has been making art for as long as she can remember. She considers herself an abstract artist, specializing in cardboard drawings, sculptures and even clothing design. Kamper said her inspiration is imperfection.
“If I see something that I've never seen before, something that would inspire me, something that looks raw and not exactly perfect (it inspires me),” Kamper said.
Most recently, Kamper collaborated with a clothing company called Siete Rojo, a company that empowers sex workers through fashion. She came up with a hoodie design and shared it with the company. Siete Rojo then hired a graphic designer to execute the idea. Kamper said she had complete creative control over the project.
“I'm really, really, really proud of that,” Kamper said.
Her recent achievement is evidence of how far Kamper has come with her creative expression.
“There's a big difference between what you make versus what you see like real art in museums (and what is) being sold wherever you go,” Kamper said. “I think it took me a long time just to think my own art was good enough and to call myself an artist, but I am an artist. That's just what I do.”
Despite any self-doubt or struggles that student artists may have, they find comfort and success when they are true to themselves. As Wolf explained, good art comes from authentic experiences.
“Just be true to yourself, and I know that sounds very cliche but you need to be,” Wolf said. “Art is completely from your mind and your body and experiences you've gone through.”