Student Website Puts Arts in the ‘Spotlite’

What began as an amorphous desire to unify discussion about arts and entertainment at the Claremont colleges has
evolved into a tangible website platform and online platform for the 5C art community: Meet Spotlite. 

The website-Spotlite, which boasts student artist profiles, a calendar of on-campus arts events and a blog to discuss cultural and artistic happenings on and off-campus, is the brainchild of Saloni Kalkat SC ’17. Kalkat, a studio arts and media studies dual major, had attended
various arts events at the Colleges during her first year-and-a-half in Claremont. When she discovered there was a lack of amalgamation between the artistic affairs at the 5Cs, Kalkat decided to take action. 

“The arts are somewhat underground in terms of how they’re publicized,” she said. “It wasn’t necessarily that accessible or well done.”

Although the Claremont
Colleges comprise a particularly well-integrated consortium, the arts and entertainment scenes of the different colleges are divided, making it difficult to stay on top of the opportunities on other campuses. 

To address this, Spotlite was born over the 2014 to 2015 winter break. Kalkat found inspiration from schools with arts publications, like Washington University in St. Louis,
as well as from her own experiences and presence on social media. As an artist, Kalkat has her own professional Instagram account and
website where she showcases her work, most of which are oil paintings. Building upon her personal experience and those of successful university publications, she decided that an online-only presence would be most accessible to all students and built the website prior to the beginning of second semester.

The Spotlite team has grown to represent three of the five colleges, including Administrators/Profile Editors Katie Shearer SC ‘17 and Kim Felt SC ‘17, Editor/Photographer Taylor Lemmons CM ‘17, Blog Editor Rachel
Odessey SC ‘17, Social Media Coordinator Alicia Hurteau SC ‘17, Social Media Coordinator/Photographer Jade Taylor SC ‘17 and Music Liaison Iman Salty SC
’17.

Ellie Lynch PZ ’17, Riley Mang PZ ’17, Tia Ho SC ’17 and Alejandra Vazquez-Baur CMC
’17 contribute regularly to the blog. Creating a truly representative entity, Kalkat also welcomes unassociated students to write for the blog. Students are invited to pitch a story idea to the Spotlite team and, depending on the response, may have the opportunity to write for the publication.

Spotlite’s blog posts aim to bring global cultural and artistic awareness to Claremont, with past entries on the ever-growing Instagram art scene, the politics of Kendrick Lamar’s music, the manifestation of violence
in modern society and inspiration found within on-campus art galleries. 

The site also has a “nominate” tab where students can nominate themselves or someone they know to be featured on Spotlite as a student artist. By sharing the creative processes and goals of artists around the campuses, Spotlite aspires to encourage cross-campus projects. As the team articulates in its mission statement: “Spotlite was inspired by the Claremont Colleges’ creative community, and in turn seeks to inspire continued creativity and collaboration across the campuses.” 

Student profiles are currently presented in Q&A format and alongside photographs, but Kalkat wants to include videography on the site in the near future. Members hope that the incorporation of different visual and audio mediums into the website will help Spotlite reach its underlying goal, “to create a virtual space where people can become more aware of artistic endeavors across the 5Cs, both personal and academic.” 

 Students already featured include photographer Isabel Verhille
SC ’17, painter Mabelle Bong SC ’15 and DJ Chris Apple HM ’15. 

Members also collaborate with KSPC Claremont 88.7 FM to promote its student DJ’s shows- the station plays mostly underground, indie music. Spotlites features “DJ Picks of the Week,” which displays a student DJ’s five favorite songs at the moment. Currently featured is Luke Sawyer PO ’17, also known as DJ Cool Hand Luke, who describes his show and taste as “heavy bass
and hard raps that make your head knock.”

In addition to its website, Spotlite has a quickly growing presence
on Instagram and Facebook. Such social media platforms promote posts and upcoming happenings. 

As for Kalkat’s personal goal, she aims to make Spotlite an established name around the 5Cs. 

“My goal for Spotlite is to make it a commonplace name around the colleges, so that people know us as both a website and an arts facilitator,” she said.

This article was updated to include corrections March 23. 

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