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Incorporating Art into TEDxPepperdineU

Student and TEDx attendees exploring the artwork Seaver students created for TEDx

Art has always been my favorite way to get involved in a community, so as a junior majoring in art and minoring in art history, it's no surprise that I serve as co-president of the Art Club at Pepperdine. The small student body at Seaver College has allowed me to solidify my reputation as an artist and learn from and connect with others who have similar interests and goals. It is because I belong to this tight-knit student community that I had the opportunity to incorporate art and the work of other Pepperdine artists into the second annual TEDx.

Art at TEDxPepperdineU

Pepperdine artists were employed throughout the event by developing stage sets, outdoor photo sets, and throughout the Pepperdine Student Gallery. The event was structured in a way that allowed people to interact with the Pepperdine community in engaging breakout sessions between attending the lectures. Student collaborators staged the event across the Smothers plaza, which gave ample space to represent diverse student-led groups from across campus.

I was asked to build an outdoor set for photo opportunities, as well as tasked with curating a small show that represented several different community artists. My set incorporated the event's theme of Surf to Summit with a surfboard labeled "TEDxPepperdineU" as well as two black and red summits that I built on campus. The palm tree-filled background of Pepperdine's campus tied the project together and gave students a picturesque spot to snap photos of their day at the event.

Two female students admiring artwork on the walls inside Pepperdine's mobile art gallery

Student Collaboration

Beyond the aesthetically pleasing Instagram opportunity of the set, the art department's mobile gallery was also present at the event. The PSA gallery, a box truck outfitted to be an inviting mobile gallery space, provided a space to show and share some of the art that is being made by Pepperdine students. I used this opportunity to network within our art department to gather art that aligned with the Surf to Summit theme. We exhibited the work of art majors as well as non-art majors in an effort to capture the reach art has across disciplines and its ability to bring many different people together.

Notable works included junior Alexa Ray's series of brightly colored palms leaves on paper, and senior Alessandra Guth's Max, oil on canvas. The inclusion of the PSA gallery at the event gave student artists a chance to be a part of the TEDx conversation. They were very excited to show their work in a public gallery space and talk about it with visitors. It also gave students like Ray and Guth the opportunity to promote their art on their professional art Instagram accounts. In addition it gave the art club the valuable practice of putting together an exhibit for the Pepperdine community. This experience undoubtedly brought more awareness to the art scene on campus and connected artists with potential collaborators.

Small-Campus Benefits

The opportunity to be involved in the second TEDx event at Pepperdine was a very exciting and informative experience for me. I got to collaborate with other hard-working students, to design and build the Surf to Summit set, and to go through the process of curating a show for the community. I'm thankful to be part of the special place that is Pepperdine.