WASA open to anyone

Art is designed to capture the soul of a society. With shrinking arts budgets, both at the state and federal level, Washburn students are working to keep the soul fed through the work of one organization.

Washburn Art Student Association is a group of students whose mission is to understand and better themselves as not just artists, but also citizens. Some might wonder, however, if the club is just for students of the art department. Anyone who has a desire to flex their creative muscles are welcome, according to Mark Brenneman, WASA president.

“Well, we try to expose our members to a lot of different things,” said Brenneman. “We do a lot of different things that include visiting art galleries, helping out with events around Topeka and prepare our members for life after school.”

Indeed, with graduation right around the corner, WASA conducted a survey in the fall that was designed to give their members a better experience. Part of the survey’s purpose was to home in on what students are most interested in learning about. To that end, WASA has lined up several speakers for the semester that will expose their audience to a variety of things important to artists. The first meeting, scheduled for Feb. 1, will feature Michael Allen, Mulvane Art Museum preparator and Jennifer Marsh, Catron Visiting Artist who will talk about proper art installation techniques, the things that artists should know about what galleries expect for artists and other topics around getting their art displayed in a museum or gallery setting.

Aside from the monthly events hosted, students will also get a chance to help out the community through annual volunteer events. One in particular is an opportunity to not only celebrate the art heritage of Topeka, but also reach out to a neighborhood in the form of the Aaron Douglas art fair. The event takes place sometime in September near the Aaron Douglas Celebration Mural at the corner of 12th Street and Buchanan Street. Funds from the event go toward assisting in the enhancement and preservation of Central Topeka. Members of the neighborhood show up to take part in events like hanging wishes on the wishing tree.

“It’s a wonderful and at the same time heart rending event,” said Brenneman. “A lot of these kids put things on the tree like, “I wish my dad wasn’t in jail” and stuff like that.”

For the spring, WASA will take advantage of another annual event, giving students a chance to see exhibits they might not otherwise get to. In past years, WASA, in association with the art department, has taken a trip to the Nelson Atkins Art Museum in Kansas City, Mo. This year, wanting to give students a more unique experience, WASA has plans to head north to Omaha, Neb., in March. There, the group will visit several museums, including the Joslyn Art Museum and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts.

“Our members wanted to go out there and go somewhere where there are things we don’t get a chance to see,” said Brenneman. “I think it’ll be a great experience. I know everyone is looking forward to it.”

With students who want to expand their horizons, WASA will continue to do what it can to give all who want to be a part of their organization a chance to push their boundries.

“We just want to make sure that everyone gets a chance to grow while they’re with [WASA],” said Brenneman.