New Downtown organization encourages release of "Inner Artist" through weekly self-expression

The Heart of an Artist seeks to provide an open mic platform for self-expression among the ASU student community

“Release the Inner Artist,” says the slogan for Downtown’s new student organization, The Heart of an Artist.

Since early February, the organization aims to provide a platform for students to express their inner selves through open mic nights at ASU Downtown.

Communications and European history junior and president of The Heart of an Artist, Christian Hernandez said creating the organization has been in the works for two years, calling it his “brainchild.” With a passion for music, freestyling and poetry, Hernandez wanted to create a space where he and his peers could express themselves and their talents.

“I believe, and my team believes, that we all have an inner artist,” Hernandez said. “How that takes form is completely unique to the individual. It could be a painter, a sculptor, freestyle, a poet, someone who does verbal speeches (and) any kind of expression.”

Having a support system through The Heart of an Artist is important for other performers because it is necessary to be heard, Hernandez said. Getting one’s thoughts and ideas out there is a necessity to form one’s identity, he said, emphasizing the goal to provide a voice for the people.

“It’s simple, it’s basic, but it’s necessary,” Hernandez said. “Self-expression is the manifestation of who you are on the inside.”

With just one microphone and one speaker, the organization has taken off in hopes of making a strong impact for the people’s passions.

The mission for The Heart of an Artist is to make others feel empowered to express who they are and providing that place in the Downtown campus, where he feels it is rare to have that opportunity.

Hernandez said that his heart is filled with joy seeing a long-term idea come to life.

Interdisciplinary studies sophomore and the organization’s social media administrator, Curtis Mohn said he knew this was an organization he wanted to be a part of and contribute to from the very start.

Since he was 12 years old, Mohn was active in poetry and involved with his local theater, and said doing so allowed his creativity to come alive.

“We open the doors for people to join us in this creative environment and share their own experiences and share their own creations with others,” Mohn said. “If we continue to share … it makes life a little easier to navigate.”

The open mic nights serve as an opportunity for students to take a break from school and leave one’s problems at the door, Mohn said, serving as a stress relief for some.

Mohn said he is inspired when he is able to watch and listen to other people perform.

“Watching someone’s true self come out on stage,” Mohn said. “No matter how bright the lights are, no matter how small the stage is, you definitely can’t hide when you’re up there. That’s definitely powerful to watch and be a part of.”

During their second open mic night on March 21, one audience member gained the courage to perform and sing that night.

Healthcare coordination freshman Joy Okeze said performing is a good feeling, stating that it was fun to get a chance to express herself outside of her major. 

Okeze has been singing since she was about six or seven years old and wants to look for more opportunities to continue doing so, as she hopes to be more involved with The Heart of an Artist.

To Okeze, being an artist means being able to recognize one’s own individual personal artistry and talents, aiming for continuous growth.

“Everyone has at least one thing they can express themselves through,” Okeze said. "It’s important to know that you were given … this talent and opportunity to express yourself in a certain way. It’s important to have fun and be creative.”

As the organization moves forward, the council members of The Heart of an Artist hope to host bigger open mic nights with a chance to network and connect with other clubs across other ASU campuses. They are looking into ways the organization can integrate itself further into the community around, and the possibilities of expanding in the future.

Hernandez said that their starting goal is to try to get at least 10 members to sign up and show up on a weekly basis to follow along with The Heart of an Artist’s journey, show support and participate in their open mic nights.

When setting up and opening up the platform, providing a sense of community among Downtown Phoenix students is a top priority. Their open mic nights are open to everyone every Tuesday at 8 p.m. in the Shade Garden of Taylor Place.

“We are still developing the organization as much as we are developing ourselves,” Hernandez said.

“We have a home for any form of self-expression.”


 Reach the reporter at tespana@asu.edu and follow @thaliamespana on Twitter.

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