The Collective revamps CU art community


Photo Courtesy of Kevin Zavala

Julia Morrison sells her artwork at The Collective Magazine’s Fall 2018 Art Gallery at Chez Bon Bon.

By Anna Pevey, Staff Writer

When Emma Sielaff was a sophomore, she and her friends felt the student art community, while ubiquitous, was also unorganized.

“There were a lot of our friends that were in different social groups that were all interested in the same things and being creative, but didn’t have a central place to express that or be a part of a collaborative environment,” Sielaff said, now a senior in Fine and Applied Arts. “So we realized we wanted to try to be that outlet for people.”

 The Collective Magazine was founded by Sielaff and siblings Chantal and Adriana Vaca in fall 2017, and their first issue published that same semester.  

The magazine and its members focus on inclusivity, uniqueness and being able to express yourself, no matter what one studies, which is “just the type of thing that, we think, our campus needed,” said Adriana, senior in LAS.

“[The Collective] is really about bringing people together, no matter who you are or what your major is,” Adriana continued, “and being able to collaborate on something that helps out the community. It is for and from the community.”

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As a younger student, Adriana had been part of Pizza FM, a student-run radio station on campus. She attributes these ties to other arts outlets on campus to helping the club get started. 

The magazine itself offers writing and designing opportunities for students. Likewise, the club brings the publication to life with different events like art galleries or house shows.

Since Chantal, senior in Media and Illini Media employee, pitched the idea in 2017, the Collective has published four issues, featuring art and articles written and designed by their members. Adriana says putting out the magazine and getting feedback is rewarding and makes preparation for the next publication that much more exciting.

Sielaff, the head of event planning and a contributing artist for the magazine, was pleasantly surprised at the turnout for their first gallery. 

“For our first gallery, a lot of the artists who displayed their work had never shown their work at a gallery-type setting, me included,” Sielaff said, “so it was really rewarding to do that and has been every time since.” 

Adriana is particularly excited by the inclusivity and diversity of the club, especially at the top.

“It has been so cool to start a club that is specifically inclusive to anyone, and to have a executive board made up of exclusively women, and members that include people of color and queer men and women,” she said. 

The inclusivity attracts many new members. 

Jenna Glassman, sophomore in LAS, joined her freshman year and is so grateful to “have an outlet like this on campus.”

“The Collective was the first club that I joined last year as a freshman, and when I showed up, I immediately noticed how diverse the club was,” said Glassman.

For students who do not formally study art at the University, it’s not so clear-cut how to find a creative space with like-minded people. Glassman believes the diversity of the club is reflected in the art they create. 

“The magazine is something that embraces uniqueness and wacky people, and I think it shows in the amount of diverse art and visuals, whether it be in the magazine or at a gallery that we have, and that is so cool to me,” Glassman said.

Recently, the Collective hosted a student art gallery at KAM Fest held at the Krannert Art Museum. 

Different types of visual and interactive art were showcased, as well as screen printing demos from Noble Print Club and music by DJ Silkee. 

Sielaff was happy to help provide a space where people could enjoy the art.

“It was so nice to see everyone’s work displayed and to have people who are or are not in the club just genuinely enjoying the art and visuals,” she said. “We try to make every experience a good one through the art and the events we plan.”

Adriana reflects back on how the publication has grown in its three years. She is most grateful for the artists she was able to connect with and the community she was able to help build.

“We knew we were going to be filling in a gap in the arts community on campus when we started,” she said, “but the recognition and how many dedicated members we have has been the greatest.” 

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