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Student-Run Organization ‘Visionary’ Taking Art To Highest Level

Art is a universal language that we all have the pleasure of knowing. A group of students at Penn State had a dream to bring their art to life, and now, we’re watching their success unravel.

Visionary Visual Arts is a student-run organization of working graphic designers, photographers, videographers, and visual artists on Penn State’s campus. The main goal of this organization is to not only provide a forum for artists to share and create art but to network with artists in the same industry.

President CJ Kente always had the idea of creating a visual arts group on campus. From when she made her first logo two years ago, the idea never faded. That is when she consulted with now-Vice President Gavin Boston in making this organization a reality. In fall 2020, the process began. 

“The whole point of [Visionary] was to create this collective of artists on campus that can come together and work on projects,” Kente said. “It’s to showcase themselves… We thought to have the best we could find all together working in that one space.”

When Kente and Boston met their freshman year, it was through a fateful match of friends and roommates. After a day of playing basketball in Rec Hall, they discussed what type of group they wanted to see. They had never seen a visual arts organization like the one they brainstormed together. 

“Instead of waiting for someone else to make it, we thought, ‘Why don’t we just make it?'” Boston said. “So, we made it.”

Visionary welcomes all forms of visual art mediums. From graphic design to photographs to live performances, the organization wants to amplify visual artists’ voices to the best of its ability.

For the university, students can provide visuals, graphics, and content for clubs or organizations that may need it around campus. For instance, if a club needed a flyer, Visionary will hand it off to its graphics department to work on it and increase promotion. 

“We have that source of talented graphic designers that are willing to work for that club. We also have videographers that are able to put promo videos out,” video department head Phil Dure stated. “I know that this year we worked on a promo 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 utilized to their full potential when they’re asked by other clubs for photos or headshots. Not only do members get experience in their field, but there is also a heavy focus on networking and making connections.

When Kente created the group, she wanted to emphasize that even though the visual artists are in school, they can still work and build a portfolio before leaving Penn State. 

“Another thing that makes us different from other groups is while we are one collective, we each have our own subsidiaries.” graphics department co-head Kameron Coleman said. “We all bring our talents together for one thing. We share the promotion on everything, which sets us apart from others.”

The camaraderie among the members has led to a more efficient group. If anyone has questions outside of their field, they know they can turn to their peers for guidance. Honest feedback is a large part of who they all are. As Visionary sees it, “iron sharpens iron.”

The group’s biggest achievement to date is its Dean’s List concert. This year, the group put on its second annual event with each member of the organization spearheading a portion of the concert.

Dean’s List was created because the music scene at Penn State was frankly “too dry.” Visionary wanted to put on a show to give music artists a spotlight. This year, the event had a total of six artists perform, with an appearance from special guest SoFaygo, who happens to be signed under the same label as Travis Scott.

Courtesy of Visionary

“We get an event we can post on our page and have the artist help broaden our network,” Dure said. “It’s a big event where we all collaborate and push out content. We provide people who are watching us something to see.”

After Visionary was created, the goal was to make the idea as big as possible. Kente loves seeing people work hard for something that matters, especially watching Dure and Visionary’s members strive for more.

“I would say that we’re pretty accomplished for our first year on campus,” Kente said. “We just wanted to work on building ourselves and our craft.”

Courtesy of Visionary

For the future of Visionary, there is a desire to take its success on and off campus. With 12 current members, the projects for the group are never-ending. Penn State can anticipate the expansion of its collaborative partnerships. When organizations need a promo video or photographs, Visionary’s plan is to be the first contact.

On campus, the goal is for students to know that Visionary is “that group” to bring top-tier and quality content. Visionary plans to keep on “prospering and give creators a home.” Coleman said that creators can’t be overshadowed by what’s in front of the camera, but instead praised for what’s behind it.

“There will never be another organization that does it like us — ever,” Boston said with confidence. “I mean that.”

To keep up to date with Visionary’s newest projects and networks, you can check out its Instagram.

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About the Author

Larkin Richards

Larkin is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. The only words that leave her mouth are "yinz" and "dippy eggs." Luckily, her writing has much more substance than that. As a Steelers and Pirates fan, sports can become a hot debate. Share your thoughts on dogs (specifically Boston Terriers) with her at: [email protected]

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