Pilots celebrate Women's History Month with painting event Thursday

By Natalie Rubio-Licht | March 26, 2018 10:32pm

This week at Pilots Paint, students will have the opportunity to paint with inspiration from California-based artist Brooke Fischer's feminist artwork. Courtesy of Diversity and Inclusion Programs.

In January, thousands of women gathered in downtown Portland to celebrate the anniversary of the Women’s March. To show the strides that have been made in the push for gender equality, the month of March is Women’s History Month — and UP is joining the celebration through Pilots Paint.

Pilots Paint is a monthly event where participants are guided through painting a piece by an artist of a marginalized community while being educated on social justice. It is being held on Thursday, March 29 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Saint Mary’s student center. Student diversity coordinators Sabrina Legaspi and Diana Salgado-Huicochea will host the event in cooperation with Feminist Discussion group, Society of Women Engineers and Her Campus. Diversity and Inclusion program coordinator Yuri Hernández Osorio will be overseeing the event. To honor Women’s History Month, participants will be painting their own versions of a piece by California-based artist Brooke Fischer, whose pieces were featured in the Women’s March.

“What’s really exciting about the Women's History Month is it’s such a large scope of folks that it impacts, we get to have more partners at the table,” Hernández Osorio said. “ We’ve reached out to clubs that have a women’s focus, and it’ll be really exciting to see.”

Since the diversity coordinators want each Pilots Paint event to be centered around a cultural heritage month, the theme for April’s event is Asian American history month. It will take place on Thursday, April 17,  at 6 p.m. in Saint Mary’s student center. 

“We usually try to do them every month,” Salgado-Huicochea said. “We had events for Latinx heritage month and Native American heritage month so far.”

The painting is not a strict step-by-step process, but rather a guided paint, where the image is projected and the students can paint as they like with diversity coordinators walking around if they need help.

“That’s kind of intentional, too,” Hernández Osorio said. “We realize it might be a lot of pressure to follow a class or instructor, or you might have anxiety about getting it right. It's really just on your own pace in a relaxing environment.” 

Hernandez Osorio said the program aims to be more than just a creative outlet — while students paint, the diversity coordinators will feature a powerpoint presentation about the artist, their background and their other works. 

“Then we give everyone a canvas, set up paint for them, and give them a laminated copy of the photo,” Legaspi said. “Right now it’s very independent, where they can look at the photo themselves and recreate it.” 

The aim of the event is to spread awareness about issues of social justice in a comfortable and friendly environment. 

“Our mission for Pilots Paint events is P.O.D.S.: power, oppression, diversity and social justice,” Salgado-Huicochea said.“Especially since you don’t see as many women artists, they’re never the focus.”

The coordinators also make an effort to be mindful of the music played during the event, highlighting artists within the community, and have created a tracklist that is available on Spotify.   

“Our playlist for this Pilots Paint is targeted at women artists,” Salgado-Huicochea said.

Aside from the educational aspect, the event is meant to help students unwind and take their minds off of academics.

“I’m pretty excited because it’s just a great idea,” Legaspi said. “I haven’t been able to attend the other ones, but I’ll be at this one. I think it’s just a great way for students to bond and bring attention to issues of justice.”  

Since Pilot Paint events have only started last semester, they plan on continuing to develop the program into next year. 

“We just started Pilots Paint this year, and we talked about in the future bringing in a professional artist to help us guide the painting,” Salgado-Huicochea said. 

Due to the number of clubs involved - Feminist Discussion Group, Her Campus and Society of Women Engineers - Hernández Osorio expects the turnout to be higher than the previous two. 

“We’re expecting this one to be higher because we have so many partners,” Hernandez said. “I think this one is a more accessible one for folks that haven’t been exposed to cultural programming or feel like they’re intruding into someone's culture. With the title of it being 'Women’s History Month,' I think more people will feel like they can participate in this type of programming.” 

However, the diversity coordinators urge everyone to attend the upcoming and future Pilots Paint events and highlight that all are welcome to come and learn. 

“I think in general with cultural programming, and this isn’t just unique to UP, if you do anything cultural, white students feel a little hesitant to step into those spaces,” Hernández Osorio said. “It doesn’t have to do with the nature of the event, people in general are just afraid of stepping into the unknown.”