Each semester, one student from each HECUA program takes on the role of student blogger, sending regular dispatches from the field. Savannah Spirov will be HECUA’s student blogger for the Art for Social Change program this spring semester. Savannah is a junior at Hamline University, majoring in Communications and minoring in Social Justice. Read on for Savannah’s final reflections.
Our final day of class for HECUA Art for Social Change was very special because it was shared with several amazing people outside of our program. It was a community gathering at Saint Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) with presentations from Art for Social Change, and Inequality in America students, a Making Media, Making Change internship spotlight, and several HECUA staff and outside community members that have supported all the students in these programs.
Emily Seru, our Director of U.S. Programs and Community Engagement, started the welcome and introduction by doing a land recognition. This is when a community or group of people hold space and give acknowledgment and recognition to the Native land we are on. In this case at SPNN, we were on Dakota land. So we practiced saying the names of Dakota bodies of water. One that might be familiar for people in the Twin Cities is Bde Maka Ska. To educate yourself, I found some links you can follow to do some more research. You can check them out here, here, and ESPECIALLY here!
After this, we heard from the Inequality in America program. They gave a presentation through audience participation, skits, and a powerpoint, what inequality in America looks like today and what we can do about it. Some of these topics included homelessness, housing, and opportunities based on your identities. One of the messages or takeaways they presented was that the power of people coming together is very important and impactful. Our Art for Social Change program went next. Marcus, our teacher, started us off with a breathing meditation with the community members present, similarly to the beginning of our own classes. We went down the line and briefly, individually, spoke about a prominent experience we all felt had moved us during the semester. After we all spoke, we went to engage with the community members and had two questions to answer with new friendly faces we just met. We asked, “What is art? And, how do you feel we can make change in the society we currently live in?” Finally, we heard a short presentation from one student that did the Making Media, Making Change internship this semester.
Having several HECUA communities come together for our final day together really made a statement on what kind of program HECUA is. I think I can speak on behalf of most students when I say that this was one of the most challenging, inspiring, growing, and transformational semesters we will experience in our college career. I want to take this moment and give sincere and deep gratitude to Marcus Young, our amazing Art for Social Change teacher, mentor, and friend. I also want to thank all of the behind the scenes HECUA staff who put in so much work to make these programs happen for students. I also want to thank all of the community artists and guests that came into our space to teach us something we normally would not have learned if we did not share space and build community throughout this program. Finally, I want to thank all of my fellow students in the program who helped shape me as a person and an artist. If it weren’t for all of these people, I would have lacked a major and transformational component of my academic and personal life. It was a spectacular and emotional ride. Thank you HECUA and Art for Social Change.