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College Ambassadors Craft Platform for Millennials at Crystal Bridges

Guests dance to the Silent Disco at the College Ambassadors' Super Iconic Party © 2015 Stephen Ironside/Ironside Photography

College students with a passion for engaging their peers in the arts and seeking a platform for that passion should look no further than the Crystal Bridges College Ambassador program (or CBCA for short). It is an unprecedented and free program offering a remarkable opportunity to collaborate with peers from across the region. We represent a variety of backgrounds, majors, universities, and skills. We have a shared passion for engaging our college communities at Crystal Bridges.

Art professors defend their choice of the most "super iconic" artwork in the Van Gogh to Rothko exhibition.  © 2015 Stephen Ironside/Ironside Photography

Art professors defend their choice of the most “super iconic” artwork in the Van Gogh to Rothko exhibition. © 2015 Stephen Ironside/Ironside Photography

Hi! My name is McKenzie Raub. I’m a senior at John Brown University and a College Ambassador. We recently put on an event called “The Super Iconic Party of the Century” that I’m incredibly proud of and really embodied the passion I was just talking about! On Friday, May 1, more than 1,000 college students from across the region took over the South Lawn and Great Hall of Crystal Bridges, and  transformed them into a high energy, party atmosphere to celebrate the icons of the Van Gogh to Rothko exhibition. I had a blast pulling a custom screenprints with JBU professor Bobby Martin. I got outside my comfort zone in the silent disco. I chatted with my friends while National Park Radio played on the South Lawn. Even then, I felt like I barely scratched the surface of this Super Iconic night! Guests were encouraged to engage with the spirit of Van Gogh to Rothko in a variety of ways. Everyone dressed in their hippest avant-garde formal wear for a fashion competition judged by fashion blogger Mason Kesner. There were also “Dead Day Dialogues” and slam poetry sessions in the galleries, outdoor art making, and eating gyros from a Fayetteville icon, Nomad’s Natural Plate. There was something for everyone to enjoy!

Guests dance to the Silent Disco at the College Ambassadors' Super Iconic Party © 2015 Stephen Ironside/Ironside Photography

Guests dance to the Silent Disco at the College Ambassadors’ Super Iconic Party © 2015 Stephen Ironside/Ironside Photography

CBCA was established in 2013 and has since developed into a group of dynamic, creative, goal-oriented college students. The ambassadors have created 9 large-scale Museum events for their peers. Senior Museum Educator Sara Segerlin noted that this past May’s Super Iconic Party of the Century was set apart by “the spirit of the ambassadors spreading enthusiasm about the end of semester experience” as well as a marked effort to “capitalize on college culture and local artist collaboration” by having the event on Dead Day and including local professors.

Pulling prints at the College Ambassadors' Super Iconic Party © 2015 Stephen Ironside/Ironside Photography

Pulling prints at the College Ambassadors’ Super Iconic Party © 2015 Stephen Ironside/Ironside Photography

As the group has evolved, Segerlin notes that the team has moved from being “party exhibitionists,”  to demonstrating “a maturity in presenting the millennial generation, seeking to bring prestige to young adults.” We set a goal of becoming a platform for the college audience at Crystal Bridges to showcase students in the arts. We took more time in developing the Super Iconic Party of the Century to perfect the night’s experience and community goals over several months. We wanted to produce a meaningful experience for our peers.

Moving forward, we hope to strengthen the diversity of the College Ambassador program by meeting on university campuses across the region and developing mini pop-up experiences. We want to present the arts in a way that is geared toward millennials.

Personally, this program has been an important part of my college career, and has provided incredible opportunities, experiences, and relationships.  If you are interested in joining this dynamic and vibrant team, the application is found on the college page of the Crystal Bridges website.

Applications are due September 7, 2015. Check out the profiles below of some of the incredible people and that represent the heart of this program!

Kelsey Ferguson

Kelsey Ferguson, Crystal Bridges College Ambassador

Kelsey Ferguson From enriching my experience as a university student to providing opportunities to begin my career, being a founding member of the Crystal Bridges College Ambassadors has infused vitality into all aspects of my life. CBCA provides a space for me to experiment and expand the boundaries of what our age group can create for our peers and, most importantly, for the larger Northwest Arkansas community. As an Arkansas native, I cannot imagine a better environment to explore the trajectory of the arts for the millennial generation than Crystal Bridges – just 30 minutes from my home and the University of Arkansas campus. The awareness that we have raised for the Museum within the university community since the program’s pilot semester just two years ago has been an extraordinary accomplishment

Alahna Blakeman

Alahna Blakeman, Crystal Bridges College Ambassador

Alahna Blakeman Being a Crystal Bridges College Ambassador has really made my first two years at the University of Arkansas special. It requires hard work and dedication, but it is all worth it when you ultimately get to see the college community utilize Crystal Bridges as a venue for the crazy, fun, out-there events we plan. This kind of free range and creativity isn’t typically given to people our age, let alone at prestigious establishments like Crystal Bridges. The CBCA program has allowed me to grow as a person as well as grow the art community on my campus, and I couldn’t ask for anything more!

Taylor Burns

Taylor Burns, Crystal Bridges College Ambassador

Taylor Burns “The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world”  –Marc Chagall. This is exactly what I have learned during my first year in the Crystal Bridges College Ambassador program. Crystal Bridges is the most magical place in Arkansas, with so many wonders. As a college ambassador, I have learned to share these wonders, in a variety of situations and with all different kinds of people in our Northwest Arkansas community. The opportunity to learn about how the museum works behind the scenes, collaboration with local artists, and the many chances to involve our community with worldwide art movement is a beautiful thing to part of.

Nick Bolin

Nick Bolin, Crystal Bridges College Ambassador

Nick Bolin Being a Crystal Bridges College Ambassador has given me a voice in an environment that I only ever dreamed of being a part of. The sense of community within the Ambassadors is electric and always leaves me with a feeling of elation, just knowing that I am a part of something groundbreaking and huge, but knowing too that I have the chance to convene with my peers who come from all different fields of study and offer so many new and exciting perspectives. A huge goal of mine has been convincing my peers from my university in Fort Smith that they belong at the Museum, because it is an invaluable resource. Being in the Ambassadors makes it possible for me to take extra steps in offering anyone a chance at seeing something new and potentially life changing. That kind of enablement is what keeps me going more than anything else. Needless to say, I am incredibly honored to call myself an Ambassador, and I can’t wait to see what we come up with next.

Marisa Buller

Marisa Buller, Crystal Bridges College Ambassador

Marisa Buller Being a College Ambassador has greatly impacted my life. I initially joined the program in order to stay connected to the arts, something that was hard for me as a Spanish and French double major. The program showed me that I didn’t need an art background to be a Museum Ambassador. Instead, my languages could be a valuable resource. My involvement with Crystal Bridges made me see my study of languages in a new way. While working with the team, I enjoy thinking of ways in which we can reach our multicultural community, or how languages can be useful in different public settings. I’ve been able to use both Spanish and French at museum events, such as “Le Carnaval de Couleur” and “Día de los Niños.” As a language major and a college ambassador, my desire is to help each guest have the best possible experience at the museum, and to positively impact how they perceive art and ideas from all around the world.

Alexis Meldrum

Alexis Meldrum, Crystal Bridges College Ambassador

Alexis Meldrum Being a part of CBCA has opened a variety of doors for me and really stretched my knowledge in a lot of areas. I am a sophomore at the University of Arkansas majoring in Art History and minoring in Marketing. I hope to work in a museum one day. Being a part of this group has created opportunities and taught me skills that I would not otherwise have received. Through the flexible structure of the group, while planning our event we are allowed to explore our interests in event planning, education, marketing, and art knowledge, among other things.  Even further, I am happy to have met the other members of CBCA because we all bring something new to the table and I love being a part of such an interesting and hardworking team. Our events always turn out to be so much fun, and I love getting good feedback from my friends about the activities we spend months planning. Being a part of this group has definitely been a positive light in my life!

McKenzie Raub

McKenzie Raub, Crystal Bridges College Ambassador

McKenzie Raub I joined the College Ambassadors in the fall of 2013, and it has been great to watch the group evolve and grow. Personally, it has been really rewarding to put together events for other college students. I love seeing JBU students I sit in classes with, knowing they wouldn’t normally come to an art museum, excited to be at the Museum and having a great time. That never gets old. It’s cool to be a part of a group that is passionate about engaging our peers in the Museum. We’re really excited about what the Museum has to offer, and we don’t want our peers to be too intimidated by the word “museum” to get in on it too!

Skylar Edwards: Crystal Bridges Volunteer, College Ambassador, and Intern.

Skylar Edwards: Crystal Bridges Volunteer, College Ambassador, and Intern.

Skylar Edwards As a consistent College Ambassador I have been able to see the program progress through each semester of new challenges and higher goals.  My main goal through the College Ambassador program has been to reach out to the surrounding college community and bring in young adults to the Museum who would not normally visit, and to allow students to gain a new perspective on reality with an artistic atmosphere. The Ambassador group has been allowing us as members to challenge ourselves effectively and to often change our perceptions at times.  Allowing interactive exercises inside the galleries, such as live poetry readings and scavenger hunts, has allowed the college students attending the events to gain a valuable experience in a new format.

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