Art is a universal language that we all enjoy knowing. A group of Penn State students dreamed of bringing their art to life, and now we’re witnessing their success.
Visionary Visual Arts is a student-run organization comprised of graphic designers, photographers, videographers, and visual artists working on the Penn State campus. The main objective of this organization is not only to provide a forum for artists to share and create art, but also to network with artists in the same industry.
President CJ Kente always had the idea of starting a visual arts group on campus. Since she created her first logo two years ago, the idea has never faded. It was then that she consulted with current Vice President Gavin Boston to make this organization a reality. In fall 2020, the process began.
“All the interest of [Visionary] was to create this collective of artists on campus who can come together and work on projects,” Kente said. “It’s to show off… We thought we had the best we could find all together working in this one space.”
When Kente and Boston met their freshman, it was through a fateful match of friends and roommates. After a day of playing basketball at Rec Hall, they discussed what kind of group they wanted to see. They had never seen a visual arts organization like the one they had created together.
“Instead of waiting for someone else to do it, we thought, ‘Why not do it? ‘” Boston said. “So, we did.”
Visionary welcomes all forms of visual art mediums. From graphic design to photography to live performance, the organization aims to amplify the voices of visual artists to the best of their abilities.
For college, students can provide visuals, graphics, and content to clubs or organizations that may need them on campus. For example, if a club needed a flyer, Visionary would hand it over to their graphics department to work on it and increase promotion.
“We have this source of talented graphic designers who are ready to work for this club. We also have videographers capable of delivering promotional videos,” said Phil Dure, Head of Video Department. “I know this year we worked on a promotional video for the National Association for Black Accountants, and we were able to get a video and graphic for their upcoming show.”
Additionally, Dure explained that visionary photographers can be used to their full potential when approached by other clubs for photos or portraits. Not only do members gain experience in their field, but there is also an emphasis on networking and bonding.
When Kente started the group, she wanted to emphasize that even though visual artists are in school, they can still work and build a portfolio before they leave Penn State.
“Another thing that differentiates us from other bands is that although we are a collective, we each have our own affiliates.” said co-head of the graphics department, Kameron Coleman. “We bring all our talents together for one thing. We share promotion on everything, which sets us apart from others.
The camaraderie between the members led to a more effective group. If anyone has questions outside of their field, they know they can turn to their peers for guidance. Honest reviews are a big part of who they all are. As Visionary sees it, “Iron sharpens iron”.
The band’s biggest achievement to date is their Dean’s List concert. This year the band held their second annual event with each member of the organization leading a portion of the concert.
Dean’s List was created because Penn State’s music scene was frankly “too dry”. Visionary wanted to put on a show to spotlight musical artists. This year, the event featured a total of six artists, with an appearance from special guest SoFaygo, who happens to be signed to the same label as Travis Scott.
“We get an event that we can post to our page and ask the artist to expand our network,” Dure said. “It’s a big event where we all collaborate and produce content. We give people watching something to see.
After creating Visionary, the goal was to make the idea as big as possible. Kente loves seeing people work hard for something that matters, especially watching the members of Dure and Visionary strive to achieve more.
“I would say we’re pretty accomplished for our first year on campus,” Kente said. “We just wanted to work on building ourselves and our craft.”
For Visionary’s future, there is a desire to take its success on and off campus. With 12 current members, the group’s projects are endless. Penn State can look forward to expanding its collaborative partnerships. When organizations need promotional video or photography, Visionary’s plan is to be the first point of contact.
On campus, the goal is for students to know that Visionary is “that group” for bringing top-notch, quality content. Visionary plans to continue to “thrive and give creators a home.” Coleman said the creators can’t be eclipsed by what’s in front of the camera, but rather praised for what’s behind it.
“There will never be another organization that will do it like we do – ever,” Boston said confidently. “I want to say that.”
To keep up to date with Visionary’s latest projects and networks, you can check out his instagram.