Only two years after its inception, Chatham University’s Artist Collective recently distinguished itself by receiving the Outstanding Social Program Award from the National Association of Campus Activities for their yearly event, Extraction.
The Artist Collective, founded in 2011, was the brainchild of Sally Ramirez and Paige Hoffman. Ramirez said the idea for it was conceived in reaction to the realization that she and Paige “shared a vision of a community of artists who were passionate about art and advocates of their work.”
From there, with the help of Chatham Faculty Member Dr. Prajna Parasher and the group’s student advisor Corey Escoto – as well as a group of like minded students – the club became a reality.
Ramirez said Extraction was at the heart of the Artist Collective from the very beginning, describing it as the “the culminating project of everything we envision and value about the artist community. It is an event that is all-inclusive and provides a platform for artists of every art form: singers, songwriters, spoken word, culinary, performance and visual artists.”
Extraction, as Payal Patel, co-president of the group, put it, is a “student showcase extravaganza.” It occurs annually and provides an evening of music, food, camaraderie, and art.
While it is in essence an art show, that label does not really do Extraction justice; it is more of a full sensory experience, highlighting art and artists that everyone can enjoy.
Born out of a need for a platform to display the talents of the many artists at Chatham, the event provides a way to address the “distinct lack of student artwork being displayed on campus,” said Patel.
“The process took a lot of people and a lot of organizing between ourselves, between other clubs and between student activities and external guests and acts we contracted,” said Patel.
The result each year is a clear demonstration of the Artist Collective’s efforts and
dedication to the art community at Chatham.
In the two years since the Artist Collective began, Extraction has grown to be a hugely successful event. So much so, that Stephanie Reynolds of Student Activities approached Patel about entering a national competition of campus activities.
Deciding to take this opportunity, the group completed the application process which required a portfolio documenting their process of planning, budgeting, advertising and various goals related to hosting Extraction. “Two months later we hear from Stephanie again – this time learning we had just won,” said Patel.
Patel is proud that the group has gained such recognition. “[It was] really gratifying to get recognized for something that we both worked so hard on and felt so proud of,” she said. She noted that recognition belonged to everyone involved in the Artist Collective, as Extraction was very much a group effort.
With a precedent now set, the Artist Collective has already begun planning for this year’s Extraction and has set a tentative date for the end of March. Many of the original members graduated, leaving room for a whole new group to plan the event this year, such as Patel’s co-president Rosemary Davies. As both Patel and Ramirez pointed out, this ensures that the event will remain dynamic and allows new and diverse members of the Collective to pursue their own visions for the event.
Regarding the Artist Collective’s plans for the future, Escoto said, “I think it would be really cool if the university would support [or] invest in the group [or] idea of Extraction by booking an instantly recognizable national music act that would draw visitors to our hidden jewel of a campus. It is always exciting for our small university to be a center of attention and I think it could be great if Chatham became known (among all of the college age students in Pittsburgh) for throwing the best party of the year.”