Courtesy of Ariel Kim

Artistry, entrepreneurship and innovation are finding a common home in an arts extravaganza this Friday, Dec. 9. 

The Yale community is invited to engage with 68 student artists alongside over 150 artworks, live jazz music and french pastries. The exhibit is Yale Visual Artists Collective’s debut showcase, and will be hosted by the Tsai City Center for Innovation and Thinking, or CITY, on 17 Prospect St, a campus space that promotes diverse entrepreneurship through community-building exercises, workshops and intensives. 

“I just hope that the energy is electric,” YVAC president Ariel Kim ’25 said. “Between the artists who get to express the closest parts of themselves and the audience who gets to experience it.”

greenRoom by Sianna Xiao

According to the center’s leaders who spoke with the News, this collaboration represents an ongoing effort to “reimagine” the entrepreneurial culture at Yale in terms of the academic disciplines represented. The event is the third Tsai City Student Advisory Board mixer of the year. 

The inherent value of art is not always thought of in monetary terms, Kim explained.

“I feel like because so many people see art as more ‘sacred,’ it’s difficult for artists to see themselves as entrepreneurs,” Kim said. “That combination [of arts and entrepreneurship] concurred with our mission, which is to expose more artists to professional opportunities in the arts, and give them a chance to see art as something that can be profitable or something that can be sustainable for them in the long run.”

Sandra Temgoua ‘23, a student advisory board member at CITY, drew particular attention to arts and social entrepreneurship. Beyond embodying diversity, part of this reimagination also comes from supporting creatives in all stages of their project — from empowering them to take the first step in fleshing out their ideas to facilitating peer discussion and presenting students with mentorship opportunities.

This exhibit represents a novel venue for the display of art by undergraduates: typically options for these student artists are limited. They can either apply for a Creative & Performing Arts grant or — for senior art majors — wait until their thesis shows. These spaces can feel “very institutionalized” or rely heavily on the initiative of the individual, Chris de Santis ’25, co-director of the YVAC events team and a Production & Design editor at the News, explained. YVAC is pushing the arts scene at Yale to open up and expand its footprint.

Holding Yellow by Michelle Foley

“While the artists showing their work at this event may not identify as an entrepreneur or innovator, their interest in pushing the boundaries of art and storytelling through their practice is very much what Tsai CITY is about,” said Anna Zhang ‘23, a member of the student advisory board at the center. 

No submissions were rejected and there is no theme. Rather than curating pieces, Kim regarded the exhibit as a “community space,” designed to instill confidence in all artists, regardless of major or experience. According to de Santis, the collective is pushing back against the “culture of selectivity” cultivated among Yale extracurriculars, with an emphasis on engaging artists who feel like their work is not “worth showing.” 

Kim referenced the student art club at the University of Pennsylvania, which holds multiple rounds of interviews to determine admission. That exclusivity is counter to YVAC’s goal of empowering and uniting artists on campus.

“If you don’t show your work to people, you are constantly in your head about it because as an artist, it’s so easy to be self-critical and self-censor [your work],” de Santis said. “It [often] takes the collective opinion of others to build confidence about your work and about what you’re doing.”

Kim noted that most artists have an inherent desire for their work to be seen — yet to catch the public eye, artists need to embrace more of “an entrepreneurial mindset.” YVAC is providing avenues through which artists can seek visibility, and through that, realize the value of their pursuits. The collective will act as a liaison between students and potential venues for their art. Kim offered the example of store-owners throughout the New Haven community who have expressed interest in displaying Yale artists’ work.

YVAC is not the only artistic collaboration that the CITY supports. Another endeavor, the Midnight Oil Collective, is a venture studio that “incubates” and “invests” in arts and entertainment ventures, according to Temgoua. Where CITY comes in is the business side of the artistry: leaders at the intensive help artists create an entrepreneurial framework for their projects. Doing so allows artists to have structural agency over their work, Temguoa said. 

Back To School by Gan Alicia

While YVAC hopes that this event will inspire new students to join, another goal is to engage people outside of the arts community. Kim encourages community members to come up to artists at the event and ask questions about their work. The event will feature live music by the student jazz band The Next Big Thing and offer free pastries from Tous Les Jours. 

“I hope that when students come to this event they can experience the healing and the pure creative energy and catharsis that’s being created by all of these incredible artists on campus,” Kim said.

The art will be taken down from Tsai City on Saturday and moved for a week-long exhibition — Dec. 10 to 16 — at three residential colleges: Grace Hopper, Ezra Stiles and Morse Colleges.

Members of the Yale Community can RSVP for the event at this link.

Kayla Yup covers Science & Social Justice and the Yale New Haven Health System for the SciTech desk. For the Arts desk, she covers anything from galleries to music. She is majoring in Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology and History of Science, Medicine & Public Health as a Global Health Scholar.
Brian Zhang is Arts editor of the Yale Daily News and the third-year class president at Yale. Previously, he covered student life for the University desk. His writing can also be found in Insider Magazine, The Sacramento Bee, BrainPOP, New York Family and uInterview. Follow @briansnotebook on Instagram for more!