By Theresa Smith
GCU News Bureau
Black birds flying at sunset, a baby blue narwhal, green prickly pear cactus, symbols of Arizona overlaid atop symbols of California – as evidenced by a handful of paintings, inspiration poured down more heavily than the rainstorm outside GCBC last week. At the first-ever Paint Night, creativity and social connections flourished among Grand Canyon University summer school students. The refreshments were a hit, too.
“It was actually really nice in there,’’ new student KJ Adams said. “I was expecting a cookie tray, but there was a nice spread: a cheese platter, crackers, tons of cookies. Everything was decorated too. We walked in and I thought it was a meeting for someone else. I thought, ‘Is this the right place?’ ‘’
It was exactly the right place, proving to be the perfect way for Adams to experience the welcoming, friendly atmosphere that defines Lopes spirit. Adams, who will start her freshman year in August, came to campus early from her hometown of Houston to take one summer school class, work a youth volleyball camp and participate in voluntary volleyball drills before the start of official practice next month.
She painted a pineapple, unaware of the GCU connection to the fruit that was established by the Havocs, the University’s student cheering section, particularly Titus Converse, the pineapple-eating, diaper-wearing Havoc. Instead, she was creating a gift for volleyball assistant coach Ari Aganus, who loves pineapples and adheres to the saying Adams painted: “Be a pineapple, stand tall, wear a crown and be sweet on the inside.’’
Her teammate, Kayla Redfield, a junior setter from Highland, Calif., found her artistic muse thanks to the variety of tools at her disposal.
“There were full-on canvases for us,’’ she said. “They had all types of paint brushes, all the paint you can imagine.’’
Including 10 volleyball players, there were approximately 65 students at the event, according to organizer Kayleigh Holton, student activities coordinator of the Canyon Activities Board (CAB).
“As I walked around, I saw such a variety of artwork,’’ Holton said. “I was really impressed! GCU has a lot of creative and talented students. I think it goes to show that painting reaches a wide range of students. Painting can be such a relaxing and fun activity.’’
In an effort to cater to summer school students of varied interests, the event was conceived by the CAB staff.
“Our CAB Commuter Team usually does a Candy & Canvas event during the school year for commuter students, so we decided to try a Paint Night in the summer for our summer students,’’ she said. “I was quite surprised with the amount of enthusiasm and turnout, especially with the weather. It seemed like Paint Night was a stress reliever and an opportunity for students to hang out and meet new people. We set up two rows of tables, which was intentional. With two long rows, students had to sit next to people they didn’t necessarily come to the event with.’’
Caleb Palmen, a junior from Spokane, Wash., painted an evergreen tree scene, as a reminder of his hometown. Typically, Palmen does not paint.
“Once I started painting it reminded me that I need to do it more often because I liked being away from social media and technology,’’ said Palmen. “It was enjoyable to be able to relax and paint whatever you feel.’’
Contact Theresa Smith at (602) 639-7457 or firstname.lastname@example.org.