Photo by Angel Contreras
After wrapping up the second week of Winter term, a Zoom call filled with SOU students got the chance to sit down and watch as the professional caricature artist Angel Contreras illustrated each person using his unique blend of humor and art. Over the course of the evening, students were able to watch as they were drawn in real time by Contreras, who has made a personalized Zoom background for events such as this one. The caricature artist of 30 years managed to turn the process of drawing into a performance.
While creating each piece, Contreras got to know who he was drawing while also engaging in witty banter. As everyone watched these goofy images come to life, each student was able to introduce themselves and talk about who they were. Throughout the night, everyone was able to share some of their interests. This also included smaller things, such as someone’s favorite color or number of siblings.
In a way, this helped people get a better idea of who was on the other side of the screen. In some ways, this personal connection was one of the most enjoyable parts of the night. For Contreras though, it’s just another late night doing what he does best, art.
It’s been tough for creators to make a living over the past year; however, Angel Contreras, also known as @nge!, has been able to continue his job of being a professional caricature artist online. Using his skills, Angel has been doing drawing sessions for students in private as well as groups over Zoom. His event planners reach out to college campuses across the country, and after seeing his work first hand, he was hired by the Event Planning Involvement Committee (EPIC).
After the first event, Marjorie Miller, the current Director of Events, is confident that there will be another caricature event at some point over the coming months. However, what exactly is EPIC’s plan for Winter term, and by extension, the pandemic in general?
Miller first stepped into her role last March, so finding ways to connect students safely has been the issue on her mind ever since. EPIC has been working on making sure that there will be socially distant weekly events that students can participate in, which so far this term has included a mug painting and tea drinking event that was dubbed Positivitea.
All of the information on upcoming events can be found on Presence, the recently implemented website which now acts as a hub for the different clubs of SOU. The information on upcoming events can also be found on the daily newsletter, which is one way to stay informed about what is happening at the school, especially for students living off campus, who might already be struggling with feeling connected to SOU.
Maintaining a sense of community for students has been one of the most important goals for EPIC, who, in past years, have been in charge of events such as Glowfest and Casino Night. Over the last few months, they’ve found that one of the best ways to bring people together while social distancing is hosting smaller, more niche events for students to bond over.
“At first we thought that we needed to get everyone on a zoom call, or we really need to increase our attendance. What we started to find is that with the smaller number events, we really saw people have genuine interactions with each other,” said Miller. These smaller group events, such as an “Avatar: The Last Airbender” trivia night, have brought people together and fostered more authentic connection. Finding a way to build new connections has been a struggle for many of the different clubs at SOU, but over the coming weeks the methods for reaching out to students will become more accessible. Platforms such as Presence and Discord have made it easier to not only plan events, but to form the connections that SOU is known for.