In the midst of rigorous equations, complex circuits, and precision-driven experiments, a group of physics and engineering students found themselves yearning for something beyond the boundaries of their textbooks. They shared an idea for a space where they can express their creativity with peers who share their interests: an art club for STEM students.
For junior mechanical engineering student Alexa Jones-Fuller, this was more than an idea — it was an opportunity to make friends.
"I was really hoping to meet people with different majors who aren't pursuing art (as a career)," said Jones-Fuller. "I want to do something that isn't just sitting in a room with people drawing."
Jones-Fuller went on Reddit two weeks ago searching for potential art clubs to join for her junior year. Another ASU student suggested that there needs to be an art club for engineering students, which Jones-Fuller agreed to. She said she expressed her willingness to take action in starting one if enough students were interested, as "you really need to have an incentive" to build a club from the ground up.
"I'm an online student so I'm not able to just meet people in my classes," said Nia Bowling, a sophomore studying physics. "I love art and I wanted to make other art friends to have the community space together."
While the club is still being formed, Jones-Fuller hopes this club serves as a platform for STEM students to not only showcase their creative talents and interests, but also to foster a more artistic perspective in their engineering and physics projects.
"Having this space on campus opens it up to anyone, regardless of their level of art expertise," said Bowling. "If you're just curious about art, you can come in and vibe with us."
STEM majors like Bowling and Jones-Fuller often encounter resistance and skepticism from their peers when they express an interest in both engineering and the arts.
"Growing up I did have some people tell me that I shouldn’t be interested in art and that I have to do engineering or be a doctor, and I wanted to go against that mindset," Jones-Fuller said.
She said she firmly believes she can excel in both engineering and art simultaneously; it's all about finding the right balance.
This wasn't the first time ASU STEM students defied convention and started their own art club.
Isabella Hutchinson, a junior majoring in English and computer science, took the initiative to start a creative writing club at ASU called The Devil's Inkwell in the fall of 2021. Hutchinson said her passion for creative writing served as the inspiration behind this club and said she is determined to provide a welcoming alternative to the existing creative writing spaces at ASU, which she found challenging to participate in.
"(Our) primary goal is to invite any student at ASU who has an interest of any creative writing at all," Hutchinson said. "We wanna see it so we invite them to share projects with each other and learn new things taught by officers and faculty members."
Through activities like partner writing and playing games designed to create connections among members, Hutchinson succeeded in hosting an environment where creativity thrived. The results spoke volumes, marked by a steady rise in membership and record attendance at the latest Passport to ASU event.
Like Hutchinson, Jones-Fuller is looking for creative ways to engage with STEM students who share artistic inclinations.
"If (the art club) became a big thing, I think field trips to the art museum or gallery walk would be really nice," Jones-Fuller said. "There are (also) some games like Jackbox and scribble.io that are really fun."
Bowling said she has high hopes for the club because it gives non-art students "an outlet to express themselves."
"I hope students will see more of themselves and grow," Bowling said. "Even though art is something they're not super interested in, maybe some students will feel more confident and try other new things."
In unity, ASU's STEM students are defying stereotypes, fostering creativity and embracing artistry. Through resilience and passion, they prove that innovation knows no boundaries.
“Do what you love," Hutchinson said. "Sometimes, dealing with the bureaucracy of ASU can be challenging, but it’ll be worth it."
Edited by Claire van Doren, Alexis Waiss and Shane Brennan