School of Visual Arts students merge art, activism in new exhibition

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- "ARTivism: Bridging Communities Through Conversations," an exhibition by Penn State students in the School of Visual Arts (SoVA) ART as Social Activism (Art397A) course, will be on display from April 29 to May 9 at the State College Borough Building, 243 S. Allen St.

An opening reception is set for 6 to 7 p.m. April 28. 

This exhibition brings into question borders and boundaries, both physical and cultural. In the approach to international and national issues, each artist enrolled in the course has brought key social issues to light and has made steps toward changing the environment around them.

ART as Social Activism, taught by Natalia Pilato, a doctoral student in art education, seeks to align student’s goals with a purposeful social mission. Students cultivate a deeper understanding of how they might affect the lives of others and what meaningful role they might play in the culture, through artistic practices and professional development. Through this practice, students cultivate a tangible methodology in approaching relevant social issues.

This exhibition is four students, four artists and four projects. Participating students are integrative arts candidates Naeem Holman, with a minor in engineering entrepreneurship, and Maeve McCullough; Brittany Trappe, bachelor of art as well as communications art and sciences candidate; and Alexandra Fahoome, community, environment, and development candidate with a minor in entrepreneurship and innovation

Below is a brief description of each project, including a link to the related blog post:

Holman’s project, "#28names," united his community during the month of February, turning 28 common white T-shirts into memorials for young black lives of color. Each day during that month, Naeem posted an article on his website about the life of the victim memorialized. At the end of his project, Naeem disrupted the HUB-Robeson Center floor by bringing together volunteers for a performance about the project.

Trappe’s project, "Fitness for Life (FIFE)," sought to create a better understanding about the human body and fitness through her photography. Working against the commercialized idea of the perfect athlete, Brittany has connected with the local community to show that fitness is for all body types and levels. During the recent Beaver Stadium Run, Brittany photographed the participants and plans to showcase these individuals in order to create a greater understanding within the fitness community.

Fahoome’s "Project Peacecard" is tackling the tough issue of capturing stories of young lives affected by the conflict in the Palestinian West Bank through art. By creating an open artistic dialogue between students living in the West Bank and students living in State College through postcards, Alexandra has brought the international community closer.

McCullough’s project "Hua:the paper flower project" brings the question of free expression and free speech to the community through the action of creating a paper flower in solidarity with imprisoned artists and dissidents in China.

For more information, contact Tammy Hosterman, SoVA communications, at, or Natalia Pilato, doctoral student in art education, at

Last Updated April 29, 2014