Over the clanking of glass art projects and scattered laughter, UC Santa Cruz art students discuss how to get a black muscle car into the middle of the Porter Quad. A playful sign at the back reads, “Tudent Rt Ovement,” indicating the headquarters of the recently revived Student Art Movement (SAM).
After two quarters of brainstorming, negotiating and planning, the completely student-run SAM is hosting its first major event. Porter Day of the Arts will occur this Saturday. The event aims to encompass a wide range of creative activities.
“It’s not just, ‘Oh, look what we do at the art department,’” said second-year Porter art student and SAM coordinator Juliet Deamicis. “It’s, ‘Join us — let’s make something together.’”
The six-hour event will include everything from jewelry and paper-making to painting and dance.
“We wanted there to be an array of different mediums to challenge what art is,” Deamicis said. “It’s not just painting. It’s all these other things.”
Getting SAM to focus on one project hasn’t been easy, Deamicis said. With support from the faculty and other student artists, she worked to resurrect the group, which has changed its focus over the years.
One of SAM’s biggest goals, Deamicis said, is to inspire people who may not think of themselves as artists.
“We want people who are creative,” Deamicis said. “Wake up to how creative your own brain is.”
Self-described “event fairy” and third-year Porter art student Heidi Cramer said she hopes her Porter Day of the Arts workshops will stimulate hands-on community interaction.
Cramer will run an art-critiquing booth, where “everyone can come in and be the art snobs,” she said.
Allowing anyone to be the artist and the critic is a way to include a wider spectrum of participation.
“It allows for a space in which art is critiqued outside of a classroom,” Cramer said.
Fellow SAM artist and sixth-year art major Dmitri Zurita said he wants his performance to encourage innovative thought. The act of washing his “muscle car” in the middle of Porter Quad can represent anything to anyone, he said.
“By taking it outside of its context and placing it as art, it forces the viewer to … deduce meaning from it,” Zurita said.
Second-year Porter art student Josh Katz will lead juggling workshops on Saturday. He said he wants participants to connect with what he sees as the joy of art.
“We thought the whole event would be more fun if you saw kids playing with toys,” Katz said.
To its members, SAM is not only a forum for inspiration — it is also emblematic of a shift in the art world.
“It’s no longer about painters getting their framed work in a big fancy museum,” SAM organizer Deamicis said. “It’s, ‘OK, how do we make a framework for a community to get together and think creatively?’”
SAM faculty advisor and UCSC art professor Elliot Anderson said there has been a shift to looking for inspiration in other fields.
“You can go to biology and get ideas from biology, or you can go to literature or poetry — go to all these different places and build ideas,” Anderson said.
Aside from fostering artistic expression, Anderson said SAM also builds organizational skills that are necessary for survival in today’s economy.
“Students need a lot of support for their own work and they need a lot of support to deal with the challenges of trying to get educated right now,” Anderson said.
Grant writing has been one way for students to work around the monetary situation and secure funds.
Thanks to group member Josh Katz, Deamicis said SAM is financially autonomous. Before Katz secured the Porter Creative Grant, members were committed to the group but lacked real direction.
“I was doing it wrong,” Deamicis said. “You need to get the money and have a reason why people can contribute.”
Porter Day of the Arts is the first step in what Anderson hopes will be a continuation of SAM’s ability to inspire Santa Cruz locals and UCSC students.
“It can create some sort of energy, put it up on the map,” Anderson said. “It shows that it’s an exciting art department to be in and here’s the kind of art we’re doing.”
Porter Day of the Arts is May 12 from 12–6 p.m. in the Porter Quad.
Workshops will include paper-making and sewing/fabric painting, juggling, dance workshops, guided yoga, guided meditation, found object art workshop, jewelry workshop, origami, free-hand portraits, cathartic art workshop, critique booth, pet rock consolation prizes and a performance art piece.
Live music featuring Algo and the Rhythms, Siren Solstice, Super Chic and Time Machine Modulus will play from 3–6 p.m.
Admission is free.