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Bad Art Night: Discovering Freedom In Creativity

A Bad Art Night run by one of Purchase’s RAs became a safe space for students to relax and express themselves.

By Elizabeth "Liz" Baldino

Students Michael Medina (far left), Garrett Able (middle), and Suraiya Abdelrman (far right) painting at Bad Art Night. (Photo by Elizabeth Baldino)

Last week the Olde’s RA office held a “Bad Art Night,” a judgment-free space where students could make art – no matter how bad it might be.

“I wanted to create a night where you can just paint whatever the hell you want,” said Elliana Marlier, the RA who ran the event. “You don’t have to worry about anything. Nobody has to see it but you.”

Inside the dimly lit office, a table covered in plastic Halloween themed tablecloth was filled with mini paint bottles, water cups, brushes and small canvases. A speaker playing lofi beats barely drowned out the pouring rain outside. Attendance was low, but the people who did come had the same care-free attitude as Marlier. Still, they couldn’t help but share their work as they went along.

“It gets you out of the mind space of, ‘This needs to be good. I need to do this for someone else,’” said Marlier. “It just allows you to do whatever you want and have fun with it, and let the art be art.”

Maverick Gazzillo, a cinema studies and history double major, shared why he pushed through the rain to attend the event.

“I try and make a habit of attending everything that I'm able to go to,” said Gazzillo. “I went to a few painting events we’ve had at Purchase and it's really relaxing, you can just let your creativity go.”

Michael Medina, a printmaking major, said that he appreciates the freedom that comes with being able to express yourself outside of classes where expectations are high.

“Being able to create in a space away from classes is important because you have so much freedom and your only limit is yourself,” explained Medina. “With assignments, you have to follow guidelines, and in classes, you usually wouldn't want your professor or classmate thinking you're a bad artist. In a space away from that, you can do whatever you want.”

As the evening went on and the rain got worse, people stopped caring as much about how their paintings were turning out. Everyone just wanted to have a conversation.

“For the most part, people wanna see good art and people wanna make art they think looks good,” said Medina. “With ‘Bad Art’ you remove your own limits and any pressure to make something appealing.”

At the end of the night, students put their coats back on and clung onto umbrellas and still-wet canvases. Fluorescent lighting filled the dark room, the music turned off and everyone returned home. As Marlier left, she hoped that people would continue this experience.

“Even if they aren’t here at this program, people can find time to have Bad Art Nights on their own,” she said. “Whether it's just on the floor or a dorm room or something, just lay out a trash bag, get some paint and a canvas, and make whatever makes them happy.”



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