League of student artists joins campus life scene

Quinnipiac sophomore creates new arts student organization on campus


Sean Formantes initiated the Quinnipiac University Student Artists League to welcome the arts on campus. (Photo by Ramiro Vargas / Contributed by Sean Formantes)

Anya Grondalski, Podcast Producer

Previously drum major for the Lyman Hall High School marching band, second-year Sean Formantes has always had a passion for the arts.

Heading into the new school year, the graphic and interactive design major announced via LinkedIn on Aug. 8, the official recognition of the Quinnipiac University Student Artists League as a student organization on probationary status.

“It was this mix of both artistic and creative thinking, and also just a passion for business and entrepreneurship,” Formantes said. “Those are the things that stuck with me after high school.”

Upon arriving at Quinnipiac, Formantes ran for the Student Government Association as a first-year senator and was elected. Throughout his term, the arts remained at the front of his mind. He had multiple conversations with Quinnipiac’s Director of Music Dr. Sprengelmeyer, and worked on an initiative to clear out the music building on Sherman Ave.

“That was something that really stuck with me, I always wanted to do something arts related on campus,” Formantes said.

Formantes is currently involved with The Quinnipiac Legends A Capella group as social media manager, Quinnipiac’s Chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts as vice president and treasurer, and The Chronicle as a designer. During his college search, one of the most important things he looked for was finding a school with an artistic background. It was important to Formantes that there be a space to express himself uniquely.

“Art is a means of expression,” Formantes said. “It’s a means of communication. It’s a way of sometimes tapping into the unconscious. And I think that’s so important because it’s personal and philosophical, it helps us to think about our own perspectives and also ask those difficult questions.”

But Formantes said he observed early in his search that Quinnipiac does not market itself as an arts school.

“Which is interesting, because we are a notable liberal arts college,” Formantes said.

Formantes did extensive research on the topic, citing past Chronicle articles that discuss the arts in campus culture. He also had his own personal experience with lack of support.

“(In The Legends) we were going to compete in-person at this competition in Hartford, Connecticut, but it got canceled due to COVID,” Formantes said. “We had to do a virtual recording with mics, professional standards, on a stage… But something we realized was that, well, we can’t really do that here. We don’t have the facility or the resources to do that on our campus.”

Hoping to find a solution, Formantes formed the idea to create SAL.

Logo contributed by Sean Formantes

“It was just in the back of my head,” Formantes said. “It wasn’t fully thought out, but I just thought it would be awesome if we had a community for visual and performing arts students to gather, and just create and collaborate on projects and what not.”

Formantes first brought the concept to SGA’s first-year cabinet in March and received positive feedback. From there, he worked with Associate Director of Student Engagement Hannah Cranston to get the organization up and running.

In just that short time, he’s had quite a bit of success.

“We actually had a small meeting prior to the end of May where we had, I want to say about 15 people that came,” Formantes said. “There were a lot of people who are active in our theater program that showed up, and then some of my friends along with members of SGA.”

Formantes approached assistant teaching professor of theater Abigail Copeland in the spring semester to be SAL’s faculty advisor. Copeland said she hopes SAL generates more creative thinking and collaboration on campus, while also helping students to heal.

“The need to form community, especially in the wake of something like a worldwide pandemic, is at the core of what it means to be human,” Copeland said. “Being able to come together with others and create new and exciting work after experiencing such collective trauma is only one way of healing our communities and ourselves.”

Formantes’ hard work and dedication has culminated in SAL’s first official meeting as a recognized organization, which will be Sept. 12. Although the idea was originally conceived and pitched to SGA, SAL is unaffiliated with the organization.

“I’ve always kind of seen this as a coalition, but not necessarily a council or governing body,” Formantes said. “I see it as an organization that hopes to partner with other arts organizations. I want it to be like a resource.”

Formantes said he also wants to prioritize recruitment and retention as student groups return to primarily in-person events and meetings.

“I think something that we need to look at is: Are students interested?” Formantes said. “Is this something they want to be a part of? I’m hoping for our social media to have a focus on content creation. I want to be able to showcase that SAL is an interesting organization because we’re starting up, we’re building trust.”

Formantes is a staff designer for The Chronicle.