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South Carolina Honors College

  • Headshot of Aidan Thomanson

More Than Just A Creative Outlet

Even though Aidan Thomason devotes her coursework to studying international studies and history, she does more than enough to stay in touch with her creative side. Now a junior, she keeps busy by making artwork and working as the lead student curator of the Honors College’s Cultural Connoisseurs Initiative.
As an artist, a lot of her artwork is made from a combination of different materials, whether it be acrylic paint, watercolors, or even embroidery. According to Thomason, nature is a big source of inspiration for her, which explains her specialization in outdoor imagery, and she likes to focus her work on the human experience. In fact, one of her past projects focuses on the way that young women experience anxiety, and she says working on this project enabled her to facilitate “honest conversations with other girls about their experiences and to communicate them evocatively.”
Art has always been an important outlet for Thomason. Besides acting as a creative outlet, art has been a source of community for her, taught her how to think critically, and encouraged her to make more emotional connections.
“Being in touch with that side of myself makes my brain think more creatively so I feel like I'm having more ideas for artworks and more motivation to do things like that just because I'm engaging with and seeing what cool things other people are doing,” said Thomason.
But Thomason didn’t want to lose sight of her passion for art once she got to UofSC. 
“It was just important to me, when I came to college and kind of realized that my major was going to take me away from that, that I was engaging with it still like keeping in touch with that part of myself so that's kind of why I wanted to join,” said Thomason. 
This led her to joining the Honors College’s Cultural Connoisseurs Initiative. As the lead student curator, Thomason works on keeping Honors students engaged with the arts and culture of Columbia. The goal of the Cultural Connoisseurs Initiative is to make connections between students and local artists and to remind students of the importance of the arts. Right now, they’re working on finding social justice-oriented artists in the Columbia community, putting together a virtual exhibition of student art, and making a series of spotlights to highlight creative students in the Honors College.
“I think that the arts have a really important place in how we connect with the world and how we respond to the world, so I think it’s really important that students during their college careers are engaged with that and are interacting with other artists and being in tune with their own creative sides. Plus, it’s a good way to destress,” said Thomason.
According to Thomason, it’s easy for students that aren’t majoring in the arts to think that they don’t have time for art, or that they can’t incorporate it into their coursework. However, she believes that the Cultural Connoisseurs Initiative can change that by showing students how to interact with art more in their daily lives.
In addition to her role as lead student curator, Thomason also devotes her time to the Maxcy Global Scholars Program. There, she’s the producer and host of the Seeking Refuge Podcast, which focuses on sharing the personal stories of refugees. Since Thomason hopes to work on equity and access in education for refugees, this podcast is right up her alley.
“I want to work on bridging those gaps to access because a lot of students will have interrupted education or language barriers, and a lot of their needs aren’t being met,” said Thomason.
Since art is such a central part of her life, it’s important to Thomason that she finds a way to integrate art into her future career. Creating art about the experiences she has in her future profession and making a documentary about the refugee crisis are just some of the possibilities she’s been considering for the future.
Thomason says that, since the Honors College already does well with encouraging a sense of community, she would love to see the Honors arts community expand even more. Looking towards the future of the Cultural Connoisseurs Initiative, she’s eager for more Honors students to join her in the effort to cultivate student engagement with the arts within the Honors community. Most importantly for Thomason, the value that she felt within Honors community pushed her to continue her involvement with the arts and on campus.
“I think because of that, I've had a lot of opportunities to engage with Columbia, and had a lot of support from people telling me things that I wouldn't have found out about myself,” said Thomason.
Whether she’s bringing awareness to the refugee crisis or promoting cultural engagement, Thomason’s love for art will always ensure that she’s finding new ways to get involved.

Haley Capps

Haley Capps

Haley Capps is a sophomore English and political science major and journalism minor in the Honors College and is from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. In her free time, she loves baking, yoga and reading old books.

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