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ASU's Herberger Institute fosters creative community

10 upper-level art and design students enter residence hall, plan events and programs to create inspiration incubator

Emily Johnson
September 30, 2016

There’s something transformative that comes from a concentration of talent, especially when it comes to the arts. It's not tough to find examples: the Harlem Renaissance, the Beat Generation, Motown, the British Invasion, the Chicano art movement, the pop art movement and graffiti culture.

In its own way, ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts is seeking to leverage the power of concentration by plugging 10 upper-level undergraduate artists, designers and musicians into a residence hall to create an incubator where art begets art and inspiration is everywhere.

“The Herberger Institute is all about the crazy, wild, innovative and cool ideas that really help our students,” said Megan Workmon, student engagement coordinator for Herberger.

The institute’s Creative Fellows reside within the Arcadia Residential Community on the ASU Tempe campus, where they work to foster creative programming directly related to arts and design while also serving as inspirational, creative mentors.

ASU as a university seeks to put students with similar academic interests together. Journalism students live in the same dorm on the Downtown Phoenix campus. Sustainability students live together in Tempe, and future teachers live together on the Polytechnic campus.

But the Herberger Creative Fellows model takes it a step further, functioning almost like an academic cohort. The fellows will come up with their own programming model, including themes they would like to address through programs they coordinate as a team. They aim to host about a dozen events and activities to cultivate community spirit among Herberger students and create a greater understanding of how their particular academic pursuit fits into a larger world of arts and design.  

“The hope is students who attend these events will be inspired, feel that spark, and take that moment to put it back into their academic and creative work,” said Workmon, who based the Creative Fellows model on her ongoing doctoral work around inspiration.

ASU fellow Zachary Porterfield

Arts, media and engineering major Zachary Porterfield. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

She enlisted upper-division Herberger undergraduate students ranging from sophomores to seniors, majoring in photography, museum studies, music, film, art education and digital culture media processing.

They take a one-unit course with Workmon in the fall and the spring, which is centered around creating communities of practice as well as learning how to become inspirational and emotionally intelligent leaders.

“I think we were selected because all 10 of us had shown leadership skills and a passion for the arts and creativity,” said Emily Johnston, a 20-year-old junior and Photography and Museum Studies Fellow (pictured above).

Workmon has teamed the Creative Fellows with artist-entrepreneur Daniel Bernard Roumain, who was named a Herberger Institute professor in May and is the Arcadia Residential Community’s Faculty in Residence. He’ll work with them to act as inspirational guides and role models for other Herberger students, and help them develop a season of offerings for the academic year.

Roumain is an Emmy-nominated composer and violinist who has performed at Carnegie Hall and the Library of Congress. He is considered a national leader and often mentors students on how an enterprising musician works in the 21st century.

“Daniel is awesome because he is teaching all of us to think on a wider scope beyond Herberger students,” said Zachary Porterfield, an Arts, Media and Engineering Fellow. “He wants us to reach out to other ASU students, graduate students, the homeless, firefighters, police and the general public.”

Activities are starting to roll out. The fellows recently hosted the “Creative Family Dinner,” where fellows and students shared a meal to introduce themselves, develop camaraderie and spell out their mission.

Anna Dong

Design management major Anna Dong. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

On Oct. 15, they’ll host “CreateFest,” an event aimed at teaching students about time and stress management, artistic confidence, and tapping into their inspirations and creation. Design Management Fellow Anna Dong called it a “stepping-stones program that will allow design and arts students to explore various options to enhance their college experience.”

In November, they’ll unveil “STEAM Stories,” an interdisciplinary program geared toward exploring STEM fields with the addition of arts. Creative Fellows are working to bring together students from across academic schools in order to collaborate on this event. 

The artistic vibe in the complex has already been magnified by these events, said Latavia Young, a 19-year-old Film Creative Fellow in her sophomore year. 

“I love walking past the design studio and seeing people using the light tables, or hearing music from the dance room, or singing from the music room,” she said.

“It makes me feel as if art has a place in this world.”

Top photo: Museum studies and photography major Emily Johnston. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

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