Look around campus and you’re bound to see a laptop sticker or a mug from Penn Create. The people who have them probably aren't in the club. But the fact that they have them should says something about its influence. Maybe the word “club” here isn’t even used correctly. Penn Create is more of an environment, one that brings together artists from across campus to create both art and a community.
Founded two years ago, Penn Create was the brainchild of Rachel Brodsky (C ’19), the current president. Actually, to be more precise, it was founded even before then—while Rachel was at Penn for Quaker Days. As someone who intended to be an English and Fine Arts major, it isn’t all too surprising that Rachel looked into the existing fine arts resources, hoping to find her community for the next four years. But back then, there was no club dedicated solely to the creation of art. Maybe the closest thing was Art Club, but that was largely organized around mural painting sessions, field trips, and public art projects. There was nothing that was just to create.
That’s how Penn Create came into existence. It’s a “fine arts club on campus geared towards being in an environment where people draw and paint with other people,” Rachel describes. That’s it. As simple as it is, it’s a setting for people to create together, with the club providing the materials. In each of their weekly meetings, the members are given a different prompt, designed as a source of inspiration for them to create. One time, it was a game of Telephone. As the word or phrase passed around the room, each member would receive a version of the original idea, which they would then translate into a form of art. At the end of the session, the club members shared their art, seeing how each idea evolved into another. Another time, it was each member bringing in a sentimental object and then placing it into the center to form a still–life. Because each member was seated at a different angle to the still–life, each had a different perspective, showing how one thing could be viewed through a multitude of lenses.
The point of the club, though, is to foster a sense of creativity, often overlooked in the spirit of Penn culture. It’s not a formal setting for artists. In fact, the majority of its board does not consist of art students. Rachel herself is now a physics major, Joy Sun (C ’19), the Social Chair, is a biochemistry major, Adina Singer (C ’20), the Fundraising Chair, is a chemistry major, and Grace Ringlein (C ’20), the Marketing Chair, is a physics major as well. And for all of these people, who are relatively removed from the academic arts, Penn Create has been their outlet.
“One thing I got from Penn Create is that it’s built my muscles because I have to carry around so many pots of paint,” Grace laughs. But, in all seriousness, the club is a homecoming, bringing its members back to their simple and pure love of brush and paint. “Art class was always one of the fun things in elementary school because you got to play with clay and paint,” Joy says. “And now I have that again.”
Though not currently a SAC–funded club, Penn Create nevertheless provides all the materials so that the members can have the same sort of experience Grace and Joy have had. “That’s the beauty of the club,” Adina chimes. To do so, they fundraise, selling laptop stickers and mugs—all hand–made and designed by the members of the club. Their next operation? Shot glasses for Fling.
Meetings for Penn Create are open to the public and are held weekly on Thursdays, 8:30p.m.–10:00p.m. in JMHH F65.