Creative Arts LLP Helps Students Learn the Value of Networking and Collaboration

The three pillars of the Creative Arts Living Learning Program are creativity, collaboration, and community. Through the continuing pandemic, the program has been finding innovative ways to ensure their students are still experiencing the effect these pillars have on the program. Peer mentors have continued to generate ideas for creative arts activities, and maintain a sense of community, while following COVID-19 guidelines. Current and former Creative Arts LLP students with diverse art interests are collaborating and networking with each other on various projects to further their careers as artists.

By Genesis Lorjuste

Peer mentor Caitlin Flemm has been working on a collaborative project featuring vocalists, instrumentalists, dancers, and highlights from LLP events. “We are the World 25” started as a mini project to keep LLP students connected after leaving campus in March 2020. However, when the project started in April 2020 it was difficult for students to produce content in their homes. 

“We are the World 25” resumed in Fall 2020 which gave Flemm the opportunity to incorporate more students than originally planned. She has been working hard throughout the academic year to ensure students have a safe community building project throughout the pandemic.

“The world today seems more divided than ever, and “We are the World 25” is a song that truly challenges us to mend that universal chasm that we hear about on the news and in our day-to-day lives.”

Although the project took over 30 hours to complete, the tools of technology helped Flemm and the students surpass the longing for community during the early stages of the pandemic. Peer mentor Caitlin Flemm, “hopes you enjoy listening to the LLP students as well as viewing videos from our dancers and looking at how the Creative Arts LLP has been able to continue to build a community throughout the 2020-2021 school year.” 

Anna Watrous, Peer Mentor and 2021 recipient of The King’s Daughters and Sons Foundation of Kentucky, Inc. $8,000 grant, has also experienced the value of Creative Arts LLP collaboration.

“It all started in the LLP facebook group.”

In Summer 2019, Anna Watrous posted she was looking for a roommate in the LLP Facebook group.The Creative Arts LLP Facebook group is used to help students create connections before arriving on campus. Emma Browning and Watrous connected and the two have been roommates in the Creative Arts community ever since. During their first year in the LLP, they met Ethan Neal and all three students shared a common interest of wanting to perform gigs in Lexington.

Soon after Soli Del Gloria Piano Trio was formed, Anna Watrous created a logo for the trio using half of a violin and half of a piano to represent the instruments the artists play. She then used the skills learned through coursework from the Department of Arts Administration to create social media pages and a website to increase business. 

The group performs at weddings, church services, and other occasions. Throughout the continuing pandemic the group has still managed to bring music to the community. They have been performing for many church services and recording virtual concerts sent to nursing homes. The three students value the community that prompted their opportunity to collaborate and get a head start on their careers as artists.

Collaboration and community amongst LLP members remains even after students have moved off campus. Previous Creative Arts LLP member and current musical artist Braden Kirkpatrick recorded a music video choreographed by Kate Walker, current LLP member and new peer mentor for the 2021-2022 academic year. The two met in the Meditation Club last semester through the buddy system. Each member is assigned a buddy and are encouraged to meet with them outside of club meetings.

When Walker shared dance as her means of creative expression the two bonded over practicing art. Kirkpatrick was also in the process of exploring music video ideas for his upcoming single Flow Song, scheduled to release this summer under his artist name Braden Wang. He then reached out to Walker and she was happy to help brainstorm and choreograph the dancing in the video. Both Walker and Kirkpatrick started small with this project, the two would meet via zoom and bounce ideas off of each other. 

The video concept they chose was inspired by the 2019 folk horror film Midsommar.

“It’s probably one of my favorite movies, so I think I just naturally gravitated to it for the video,” said Kirkpatrick when discussing the inspiration behind the video.

Once they landed on a central theme for the video, they both watched the movie and conducted research to dive deeper into themes in the movie. Walker began to work through the materials they gathered, to generate movement and emphasize the ritualistic aspect of the theme. 

While networking on campus the two reached out to dancers for the video, one being myself. I had the privilege of having Braden Kirpatrick as one of my mentees freshman year and jumped at the opportunity to see how he’s matured as an artist. 

My role as a former Peer Mentor and current role as LLP Communications Support has allowed me to see how the three pillars of this program set students up for success. I have worked with both Kate and Braden in two different settings which pays tribute to the diversity of students in this program.

 When interviewing both Walker and Kirkpatrick they mentioned the collaboration being more than just the two of them.

“There were 11 of us willing to be there for the artistic experience including those videoing, many of them weren’t dancers but had good energy and were willing to play," Walker said.

Dancers in field
Flow Song video shoot Crew

The commonality of supporting Braden’s artistic journey created a small community within other communities, linked to various campus clubs and organizations. Through these experiences, Creative Arts LLP students have been learning the value of networking. Thanks to a diverse group of students from different majors and backgrounds the Creative Arts LLP has become a collaborative community for creativity.