Amber J. Guadez
When language creates barriers and limits to what one feels the arts open the doors of opportunity and develop endless possibilities.
This is what senior sociology and speech communication major Shannon Garcia believes.
“Art doesn’t have to make sense, you just have to feel it,” Garcia said.
Garcia is the founder and president of the Art Collective at the University of La Verne.
She is working on two major projects with the Art Collective, geared toward encouraging creative expression within the youth of Pomona and the students of ULV.
The 22-year-old Cuban and Native American mix grew up in the San Bernardino area.
With her melting pot background, she was exposed to different cultural experiences.
These shaped her mind-set and have influenced much of her painting, music and spoken word.
As passionate as she is for the arts, she only began her artistic journey at age 19.
“What was lacking on campus, was a space where people can be themselves, learn to grow and express creatively, as well as expand independent thinking,” Garcia said.
Thus the Art Collective was formed in fall of 2011.
“In our generation, many people get caught up in misconnections. It’s easy to text a random thought, and yet there’s always a missing connection,” Garcia said.
With the development of the Art Collective, Garcia and her artistic peers hope to change that. Throughout the year everyone shares responsibilities in the club.
During meetings they do activities that build on communication and creative expression.
“We are made up of a lot of talented people and work hard to maintain our mission and goals,” Garcia said. “Everything we do is out of good heart and spirit,” Garcia said.
This year the Art Collective is collaborating with the Inland Valley Volunteer and Resource Center.
It plans to branch out to small organizations and help build small communities.
The community project is focused on Pomona.
The IVVRC provides resources and services to juvenile delinquents, as well as volunteer hours assigned by courts.
Although, the art program in the IVVRC did not survive, the Art Collective plans to bring the arts back.
Garcia’s group hopes to offer free services to families such as free yoga, meditation, stress and nutrition workshops.
“We’re going to teach the youth to be advocates of positive change, rather than another number or statistic,” said Garcia.
Not only is Garcia involved in spreading positive change through the arts at the campus and in the community, she has also been involved with several other activities at La Verne.
She helped Jim Brooks, the associate director of the Campus Center, coordinate the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational that was held at La Verne last spring.
“She’s always exuberant, full of energy and always in a great mood,” Brooks said.
Garcia also manages events in Morgan Auditorium.
“She’s always dependable, trustworthy and such a cultural inspiration,” Brooks said.
“She is very passionate and dedicated about the Art Collective and helping the community, “ said junior sociology major and Art Collective treasurer Victor Campos.
If there is anything we can learn from Garcia, it is the importance of arts.
“Art saves lives,” Garcia said.
Amber J. Guadez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.