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Emory grad working to make art supplies, studio space accessible for all Emory students

When Rizky Etika, a 2020 graduate of Emory and the current Rosemary Magee Arts Fellow, was a student, she often struggled to afford the supplies she needed for art class and personal projects. Materials like paint, wood and cloth can be expensive and difficult to obtain.

“Even getting to an arts store is difficult if you don’t have a car,” Etika says. 

A student's piece of art

When she became the Rosemary Magee Arts Fellow at Emory, Etika spearheaded an initiative to ensure other students (whether they were studying art or had a passion for art in their personal lives) had the support they needed to express themselves through art.

The program, called ArtsLab, provides free art supplies and studio space for all Emory students, regardless of their major.

“Rizky noticed there was no way for students who were not art students to meet and do art,” says Maggie Beker, a project coordinator for Emory Arts who helped Etika create ArtsLab. “Emory has so many interdisciplinary students. You’re allowed to be well-rounded and diverse in your interests. It’s exciting that we’re able to address the need whether or not students are arts majors.” 

ArtsLab’s studio space, located in the Computing Center at Cox Hall, is a partnership with Academic Technology Services and their TechLab initiative.

Launched in fall 2021, ArtsLab has been very successful so far, sometimes hosting up to 50 students at a time. The lab draws in everyone from students making costumes and hanging out with friends to student organizations hosting art events.

Crochet dog

“It’s a great gathering spot that works for everyone. The environment is really welcoming,” Beker says.

Many students are so grateful to have space to express themselves that they send thank you emails or leave art as a thank-you gift, Etika says. One student crocheted a tiny hat to show her appreciation for ArtsLab, so Etika created a 3D-printed dog to wear the hat and left it on display in the lab. 

“It makes my heart so full. I get kinda weepy when they come in and then send a thank-you email. It’s gratifying,” Etika says.

In addition to providing common art supplies, the lab also takes donations of card stock, fabric, wood and much more – providing an outlet for expanded sustainability on campus. For instance, dust jackets for books were recently donated and were used in a collage event hosted by the South Asian Women’s Collective and Emory PRIDE.

“It’s great to see these resources being used that otherwise would have been recycled. It’s nice to see students get a lot of enjoyment out it,” Etika says.

A student's piece of art

The program has been so successful that there are plans under consideration to expand its offerings to include things like a dark room, professional dress forms (similar to a mannequin) for clothing design and community workshops with local artists, Beker says.

“We’ve been meeting with a lot of students about what they need and what they’d like to see,” Beker says. 

Overall, Etika says she’s delighted with how students have embraced ArtsLab and all the support it has received across campus. 

“I feel happy and grateful to see that we’re making an impact on students’ lives. It’s absolutely a pleasure this has happened.”

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