Webster University’s Campus Activities hosted the “Paint Your Heart Out” event on Feb. 14.
Webster student Fahima Band Ali sat in the Sunnen Lounge of the University Center on Feb. 14. Various brushes, a paint-filled pallet and a canvas were laid out on the table in front of her.
Ali painted a young woman standing under the night sky. Above the girl, a crescent moon hung with a warm glow, contrasting the darkness around it.
Ali said the painting has a special connection to her childhood.
“When I was a child, when my grandma died I used to talk with the moon because I thought the moon is my grandma now,” Ali said. “So actually this is a painting for my grandma because I used to love my grandma’s so much. And I love her, too.”
Webster University’s Campus Activities hosted the “Paint Your Heart Out” event from 3 to 6 p.m. on Valentine’s Day. Student event coordinators Selina Shakya and Blain McVey planned the event.
According to Shakya, Campus Activities normally hosts events for holidays, such as pumpkin carving for Halloween or Casino Night around the Christmas season. She said incorporating art into a Valentine’s Day event was a simple decision.
“Love is expression and art is expression. So we mix the two and we get paintings,” Shakya said.
Initially, Shakya said she and McVey considered centering the event around shirt painting. She said they decided to stick with small canvases, however, to ensure the paintings would dry quickly.
Shakya believes that painting can act as a type of therapy for many people. At the event, she said she saw many impressive paintings, such as McVey’s painting of the St. Louis Flag.
“I love how creative people are with their art. They do things – you know how you look at someone and they’ll be like, okay, they might draw a heart, but then they draw something like a masterpiece or something,” Shakya said. “You get to know them and how their creative side of their brains work.”
Ali said she heard about “Paint Your Heart Out” because she follows Campus Activities on social media and saw fliers for the event. She said she was happy to attend an in-person event and spend time around others as COVID-19 cases begin to drop.
For Shakya, the in-person element of the event was also a benefit. She said students were less interactive online, so they benefit from being around others.
Shakya said Campus Activitiesconsidered a speed dating type event. However, she said the “Paint Your Heart Out” event also helped students connect with peers.
“I saw a lot of people who didn’t know each other sitting at the same table, sharing their art and talking about what it was,” Shakya said. “So they got to know each other like that, which I thought was really a benefit that we didn’t think of beforehand.”
The smaller canvases allowed students to share their art with loved ones. However, Shakya said that people could also use the paintings to create memories for themselves.
“Even if they don’t have a partner, they can look back at it or put it on the wall in their apartment or whatever. They can look back at it in years and be like, ‘Oh, at the university, we did this,’” Shakya said. “So that will be really interesting to look back at.”