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The art of expression: VCU student gives back to the community through art, activism and service

Featured photo
Angelique Scott.
Photo by Allen Jones, University Marketing

For someone who five years ago had no interest in applying to Virginia Commonwealth University — and hadn’t even heard of its School of the Arts — student Angelique Scott has given much to the university and the surrounding community during her time here.

Scott’s high school art and ceramic teachers had attended the VCU School of the Arts and persuaded her to apply.

“Not only did I not think that I would be accepted, but I also did not expect to receive as many grants and scholarships for my education,” Scott said.

The one thing Scott did know was that she wanted to study ceramics. As far back as she can remember, the Brooklyn native has loved art. Every Christmas, she received some sort of gift that allowed her to explore the world of art — from paint and an easel to a sewing machine and a trumpet.

“Whether it was fashion, painting or music, my passion for the arts has always been there,” she said.

In eighth grade she created her first face jug and has primarily concentrated on ceramics ever since. Inspired by her Afro-Caribbean heritage as well as her perspective as a black millennial in the United States, Scott’sartwork focuses on race, culture, pop culture, history and current events.

“I believe my artwork [gives] black culture a voice,” she said. “Almost always I am not only the only black person in my classes, but the only person of color. My artwork serves as a catalyst for conversations my classmates might not have otherwise.”

Now a senior at VCU, Scott is double majoring in art education and craft/material studies with a minor in art history. Yet even with such a full course load, she finds time for her other passion: volunteering and service to others. As a sophomore, she entered the VCU ASPiRE (Academic Scholars Program in Real Environments) program.

My artwork serves as a catalyst for conversations my classmates might not have otherwise.

“Community service has always been a value I have carried throughout my life so VCU ASPiRE was the perfect fit for me,” she said. “Throughout the two-year program, I learned about not just service, but social justice, and engaging with the Richmond community through a variety of avenues such as working with the Peter Paul Development Center, Woodville Elementary School, The Boys & Girls Club, etc.”

The program expanded her perspective both locally and globally. This past summer she traveled with VCU ASPiRE to Belize for two weeks to work with a day camp at the local community center in the Sandhill Village.

Since graduating from the program, Scott provides volunteer opportunities for others through the connections she has made. Finding the time to be a full-time student with a double major, while working two jobs, mentoring, volunteering/interning and holding leadership positions at various student organizations has not been easy.

Time management is key to finding a balance in not only the semester but weekly and daily activities.

“It is very important to make sure that I can fully commit to anything I agree to be involved in and to make sure that I am being efficient in everything that I do,” Scott said.

It helps that working in the studio and volunteering are among her favorite things to do.

Outside of the VCU ASPiRE program, Scott was Ms. NAACP at VCU for the 2014-2015 academic year, community service chair for the NAACP at VCU and vice president for the Contemporary Craft Society at VCU. She interned at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond, working with VCU’s Division of Inclusive Excellence, Equity at VCU and Art180.

She is devoted to her role as a black student leader on campus. She was the student speaker at the 2015 VCU Presidential Forum on Diversity and Inclusion, and received the Black History in the Making award from the department of African-American studies, in addition to the Emerging Leader award and Dr. Henry G. Rhone Award for Student Leadership last spring. She is the service chair for the Eta Theta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, a Carver Promise mentor and a student organizer for BlackVCUSpeaks.

Scott also is co-founder and president of Black Art Student Empowerment at VCU, a student organization that strives to be a catalyst for change in the art community.

“I wanted students of color to feel included, to realize that they had peers that look like them who could help with critiques, and empowering one another,” she said.

With so much going on, she is still deciding her plans for after college, but is certain her future will involve art and helping the community.

“I would like to attend grad school at Howard University focusing on Afro-Studies, or begin my teaching career in K-12 education in Richmond Public Schools, or work with the upcoming VCU Institute for Contemporary Art as a community engagement director in the arts,” she said.

Visit makeitreal.vcu.edu to read about more VCU students, faculty and staff who are challenging the norm.

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