When Drew Metcalf, an LSA junior studying screen arts and culture, submitted his project proposal to optiMize’s Social Innovation Challenge, he had no idea he would end up forming a creative expression showcase that would impact more than 150 students. With a strong passion for creativity and art, Metcalf has a natural drive for building community, cultural understanding and confidence — all through the power of expression. With his new organization, Creatives of Color, Metcalf is using art to revolutionize how students of color come together.

The purpose of Creatives of Color is to foster connections among artists of color by providing opportunities for collaboration, expression, and networking. Its platform is centered around providing support and resources to give students the freedom and means to pursue their creative initiatives.

Metcalf got his start from optiMize, a social innovation organization dedicated to inspiring students to initiate self-driven products to work toward a more sustainable world. Through optiMize, Metcalf received mentor support, visioning workshops and an expansive network to help him make his mission a tangible reality. To formally introduce his organization, Metcalf held a creative showcase April 11.

The showcase featured an expansive range of art, such as photography, animation, singing, dance, and poetry. It featured projects from 25 participants of varying cultures, ages and majors, adding to the diverse makeup of projects presented.

In preparation for the showcase, Metcalf said he and his team randomly paired students together as he wanted to explore the creative capacity that could come from strangers. Metcalf and his team provided guidance and assistance to student teams. He hoped students would feel encouraged and confident enough to pursue creative means not traditionally explored.

“We wanted to showcase all kinds of art. When people think of creative work, they jump to music, poetry, and dance. But, we also have committees for other written art, like journalism and creative writing,” he said.  

Though the showcase received an immensely positive response, it did not occur without setbacks and moments of discouragement. As the term went on, more and more groups dropped out due to academic demands and other time restraints.

However, Metcalf stayed optimistic, commenting even if two people showed up to the showcase, as long as everyone had fun, the work would not go to waste.

“There were a couple of times that I wanted to throw in the towel … But my team kept me grounded,” he said.

Drew’s project was received so well that it solidified additional funding, which will allow the organization to continue active development over the summer. His summer project will consist of building the social network of professional and aspiring creatives, striving to bridge the gap between access to resources and mentors.

With this amount of momentum, it is clear that Creatives of Color has a bright and eventful future ahead. Future plans include creative workshops, collaborations, exhibitions and youth outreach. As the organization is still in its infancy, the possibilities are wide open, and Metcalf is ready to take them head-on.

“The cool thing about (this project) is that there’s so much room for creativity and innovation. There are so many things we can we can do with this organization, and the ideas keep coming. I’m interested to see what comes of it,” he said while smiling.

Anyone interested in getting involved with Creatives of Color can join their Maizepage group, contact the group directly at thecreativesofcolor@gmail.com or fill out their EBoard application. 

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