Columbia students go OFFLINE with new art collective program


Mike Rundle

Peter Jang, Donovan Thomas and Jeonghun Han are part of OFFLINE, which works to provide art students better networking opportunities.

By Katherine Savage, Staff Reporter

Networking is emphasized as an important part of the learning curriculum at Columbia. However, two students felt there was not enough being done to help students showcase their work and connect with others.

Junior arts management majors Peter Jang and Jeonghun Han are changing this with OFFLINE, an independent art collective focused on curating events to help artists further promote themselves.

“One thing I have learned from the school is to try to market yourself, but at the same time, I was questioning them,” Jang said. “[Does Columbia] actually provide those marketing platforms or opportunities to do that? I don’t think the school provides those.”

OFFLINE curates live performances and events for all art mediums, unlike typical art collectives that deal with just one form of art. Jang said the goal is to “challenge the status quo.”

The relationship between a curator and an artist can be a difficult hierarchy, but OFFLINE wants to make that relationship better and be an incubator for artists, Jang said.

The collective chose the name OFFLINE because the members believed it was important for artists to collaborate and network in-person rather than just through social media. They want to encourage students to get out of their dorms and actually do the work they are learning about in classes, Han said.

OFFLINE hosted the event ART-ISFACTION April 6 at 410 N. Paulina St. They asked artists to present work about their perspectives on love. The event featured everything from video art to fashion designers.

The theme of this event tied into the collective’s bigger theme for the year: identity. The theme was developed after the group’s first official event, Anti, in November 2018.

“We found our [identity]. That was another reason why we went that route, so we can solidify our identity and then have everyone kind of evaluate their own as well,” said project manager and photography major Donovan Victoria Thomas.

Thomas is in charge of scouting artists on social media and anywhere around Chicago, specifically looking for someone who is unique and who fits the theme, she said.

“It doesn’t matter if we fail or not. We didn’t really see any failing aspect in our future because failure doesn’t mean anything for us [because we still learned something],” Han said.

In the future, they hope to expand to bigger venues and have more collaborations with international and rising artists, Thomas said.

“As an artist, you have to consider yourself a business at the same time,” Han said. “We’re doing this to provide [artists] an easier platform and [to make them] more approachable because we are students, [and] we’re the artists.”