USC Upstate Sparks Creativity, Community Connections at Greenville’s Artisphere

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The University of South Carolina Upstate made a vibrant debut at the 19th annual Artisphere presented by TD Bank, a premier arts festival held May 12-14 in downtown Greenville.

USC Upstate seized the opportunity to participate in this event expected to attract more than 140 artists and an anticipated 90,000 attendees and have a more than $9 million economic impact on Greenville. The university focused on making a lasting impression on children and families.

“Overall, I think this was a success,” said Christa Christ, assistant professor of psychology at USC Upstate. “Artisphere is something we’ve never done before, and we didn’t really know what to expect. I was thrilled because this turned out to be a really great opportunity for us to engage with the community.”

Nestled at the corner of Main and Augusta Streets, USC Upstate’s 2,000-square-foot tent provided an engaging space where visitors could unleash their inner artists through various projects. The university collaborated with the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, creating a shared space that facilitated a diverse learning experience. USC Upstate showcased its more than 50 majors, emphasizing the fields of graphic design, art education, and psychology throughout the festival.

Faculty and around a dozen students from USC Upstate’s art education and psychology programs played an instrumental role in guiding participants as they created their own masterpieces.

“It was really great hands-on experience,” said Courtney Cogburn, a rising senior majoring in art education. “I got to work with kids and gain some experience as an artist. It was fun to experience the community’s art, food, and culture. It helps you become more comfortable working with new people.”

Claudia Culpepper, a rising senior pursuing a psychology degree with a minor in education, highlighted the importance of promoting the mental health benefits of art.

“Mental health is a tough topic that a lot of people don’t understand,” she explained. “If you can get information out to the community in a way that is helpful, I think it’s really great.”

Chris Hughes, a senior art education major, expressed her delight at working the festival.

“It was really cool,” Hughes exclaimed. “It was very busy, but fun. The activities were interesting, and the event was very engaging. It taught me how to adapt to different situations and how to work with different personalities. I was able to work with kids of different ages and even some adults. It was a lot of fun.”

Derek Fenner, Ph.D., instructor and head of the art education program at USC Upstate, highlighted the multitude of benefits this experience provided to students.

“It really bolstered their skill set and reinforced the message about the positive impact that art activities have on neural health,” he explained. “The students learned teamwork, organization, communication, and community engagement through partnership and service learning. I think it was a well-rounded experience that will enhance their connection to the community.”

Fenner emphasized that these types of experiences strengthen the students’ ties to the community, ultimately contributing to the retention of talented individuals in the Upstate region.

Michele Covington, Ph.D., executive director of Greenville programs for USC Upstate, was pleased that the event helped to highlight the university’s campus at the University Center of Greenville. She praised the experiential learning that it provided for students.

“The reading and traditional classwork is great for a foundation, but to get out there and actually flex the knowledge and skills is a whole different way of learning that prepares (students) for after their degree,” Covington said. “The students interacted with all ages of the public, guiding them through projects and interacting with them about their experiences at Upstate.”

“USC Upstate’s successful participation in Artisphere was a testament to our commitment to fostering community engagement and enriching the lives of individuals through the arts,” said USC Upstate Chancellor Bennie L. Harris, Ph.D. “By providing a platform for children and families to explore their artistic talents, USC Upstate contributed to the festival’s mission of enhancing the region’s cultural vitality. We were delighted to solidify our presence as a prominent advocate for arts education and community involvement in the Upstate.”

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Written by USC Upstate.