CMC Art Council Encourages Creativity in Third Annual Showcase

A variety of paintings, drawings, photographs, digital art pieces and even a couple of hand-written poems were on display in Claremont Mckenna College's Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum April 18 as part of the CMC Art Council's third annual showcase. 

“It’s fun to see CMC having an art scene, and it’s fun to see it grow and develop over the years,” Art Council co-founder Nick Weiss CM ’15 said. 

The showcase shared the venue with a department open house for admitted students, who perused the work in between conversing with faculty. CMC students, most of them non-art majors, made all of the pieces.

“It’s a culmination of what students have done artistically outside of the classroom,” Weiss said.

Weiss and his classmate Christie Capper, who now attends Columbia University as part of the 3-2 Engineering Program, started the council in 2012 after noticing a lack of student art at CMC. This art shortage is in part due to the fact that CMC does not have any art departments.

“While we knew we couldn’t do something academically based, because we can’t get a department easily, we thought a student-run organization that promoted the arts with visual events and some poetry events would be a nice way to spur interest in the student body,” Weiss said.

Weiss predicts that students more dedicated to the arts than he is will take over and broaden the Council’s influence.

“I’m a math and econ major," Weiss said. "I’m doing this because I like people appreciating it … But actual artists doing the major will have a bigger impact once I leave."

Nisha Behrman CM ’18 was excited to see art playing a bigger role on CMC’s campus.

“Personally, I’m not looking to take art classes as of now, but I definitely want art to be part of my college experience,” Behrman said.

Likewise, artist Vanessa Gill CM ’18 is a neuroscience major, and has not yet taken any art classes at the Claremont Colleges. She is a part of Create Club, a CMC art club on whose board she hopes to serve next to semester.

“Science is something I want to pursue as a career, but art is always something there as a hobby in a way that relieves stress,” Gill said. 

Gill had two pieces in the show, including a portrait of an old bearded man done on scratchboard. 

“I really like the contrast that wrinkled skin creates,” Gill said.

Her second piece was an elaborate design drawn in pencil and inspired by henna tattoos. 

“That started out as a really small doodle in my sketchbook and turned into this huge page that I ended up working on for months whenever I had time,” Gill said.

Gill found the experience enriching, and encourages other people, especially CMC students, to create art in their free time.

“A lot of people at CMC don’t think that they have artistic skill, and that they don’t have any creativity in them at all," Gill said. "But just going and trying to express yourself creatively is a good thing to do, and you’ll never know that if you don’t try it."