Free Press event focuses on Guilford LOVE

Love was in the air on Feb. 9, the Friday before Valentine’s Day, as students gathered in Hege-Cox. Pink, red, purple and yellow paints lined the tables, along with stamps carved with messages like, “You make me smile,” all waiting to transform blank pieces of paper.

“When we were planning this, we were thinking a lot about Guilford LOVE, which stands for, “Living Our Values Everyday,” so we were talking a lot about like how do we live our values everyday by being kind to one another,” said Visiting Lecturer for Art Katy Collier. “What are phrases you can say to people that you maybe are not romantically interested in, but you care about them a lot?”

This Free Press event focused on inclusivity, ensuring everyone in the community felt welcomed into the Valentine’s Day festivities.

“It’s deconstructing love on Valentine’s Day, like that’s what it’s really about, and letting folks know that love is for everybody and it doesn’t have to be romantic,” said junior Terri Daniels. “It can be platonic and inclusive, right?”

This aspect of inclusivity is unique to the Valentine’s Day Free Press.

“What makes this one unique is that it’s really about being like gender-neutral and you will see that like within some of the cards,” said Daniels. “The English language can already be manipulated to be gender neutral, however with these other languages that are (Romantic) like for example, in Spanish, we’re using the ‘x’ to signify gender-neutral and non-binary people.”

Valentine’s Day presented an opportunity for a themed Free Press event that could engage the whole community.

“A lot of the fun Free Press events that we have organized have had a theme kind of, so we did one during Trans Resilience Week … We did a couple other ones that were around like certain kind of specific topics, and then this one … just fell in line with Valentine’s Day,” said Collier.

“We also wanted to have like social justice themes like Black Lives Matter and stuff like that at this event too because that’s traditionally how Free Press started.”

Free Press provides a space for everyone to come and create art, even if they have no experience with it or have not attended a Free Press event before.

“I think printmaking is really good specifically because it’s accessible to people that maybe haven’t made art … They get to like kind of interact with this process that they’ve never done before, but they get to make something that they like, and they get to take home with them and remember that experience,” said Collier. “So it’s like having a memento of this exploration or experience that they had.”

Students saw the event as a chance to express their appreciation for the people they care about.

“My favorite piece of art I did at free press says, ‘Eres como un rayo de luz,’ (and) I’m going to give (it) to my friend just saying you’re a ray of sunshine,” said sophomore Maria Marin. “… just to remind her how much I love her and care for her.”

The event succeeded in showing the community the variety of ways to use Valentine’s Day to show the people in our lives that we love them.

“It’s just kind of creating that sense of community and the sense of everyone being much more kind and loving towards each other,” said Marin.