Art, Arts & Entertainment

McGill Arts Collective champions collaboration in the campus art scene

With the Fall 2022 semester in full swing, students are once again faced with the barrage of decisions typical of a busy September. Selecting the most efficient route between classes, finding study spots to frequent, and picking clubs to join are just a few of the choices that are top-of-mind during those first few days after the add-drop period ends. 

While these decisions may take a student weeks of trial and error, the new McGill Arts Collective (MAC) hopes to make joining a club an easy decision for seasoned artists and enthusiastic beginners alike.

Founded by undergrads Brune Bettler, U2 Science, and Darren Li, U2 Science and Management, MAC is a new multimedia fine arts club dedicated to developing a diverse community where artists from all disciplines can connect and collaborate. At a university without a dedicated fine arts program, MAC aims to fill an oft-neglected niche by creating space for an interdisciplinary group of artists and art enthusiasts. 

“McGill does a really good job of providing students with academic services and clubs, but we found there wasn’t a lot of room for multimedia artistic opportunities,” Bettler said in an interview with The McGill Tribune.

As passionate artists that work across mediums themselves—Bettler is an avid photographer and creator of 2D-collages while Li enjoys painting and experimenting with mixed media—MAC’s co-presidents felt compelled to start the club after discussing their mutual desire for a space where McGill students could foster artistic conversations across mediums. 

“[MAC] can bring a community together of people who do all kinds of different arts […] they can meet each other, talk about their work, and get a multimedia perspective on what they make,” Li explained. 

Going forward, MAC will hold bi-weekly events that fuse different mediums through collaborative activities. The organization is membership-based, meaning students can attend all of the year’s events with the purchase of a $15 full-year membership, or they can opt to attend specific events for $5 each. These events will range from exhibitions where students can display their latest artworks to interactive challenges such as the upcoming poetry-inspired paint-off on Sept. 22. There, participants will work in teams to paint their own masterpieces inspired by lines from an original poem before discussing the finished pieces as a group at the end of the evening. 

To kick off the year, MAC held its “club-warming” event on Sept. 8, at Jeanne-Mance Park. With the bright beginnings of a harvest moon as the backdrop, the event saw a revolving group of interested students munch on delicious snacks while mingling with fellow art lovers.

Josie Brooks, a U2 Psychology student with a love for painting and music, was most enticed by the community aspect of MAC. “I’m excited about the prospect of connecting with other artists. I’ve already met some really cool people here,” she said. 

Bettler and Li hope to expand the club’s focus to include events and initiatives that will connect students with the larger Montreal arts scene. 

“We’re thinking we could set up a shop on our website that would allow McGill artists to sell their art and then also communicate with different museums and art institutions to get reduced prices for students,” Bettler said of the club’s future trajectory.

“Definitely!” Li agreed emphatically. “Connecting McGill students to what’s happening within the Montreal art world, I think that’s a great opportunity to give McGill students.”

While the co-presidents acknowledged the importance of focusing the MAC’s efforts on the McGill community before expanding their scope, it was clear from the club-warming event’s atmosphere and enthusiastic chatter that students were looking forward to bigger things to come.

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