Graphic courtesy of Natasha Shacklett

By: Max Lorber, Arts and Culture Editor

Students with a passion for the arts have the unique opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals at the Society of Student Artists (SoSA). Created in the Spring of 2019,
SoSA aims to foster a community for creative students on campus by providing workshops and group trips to museums or galleries.

According to SoSA president, Natasha Shacklett, the creative culture at USM needs an area where artists can meet each other, exchange ideas, find inspiration and learn more about their respective crafts.

“At our meetings we talk about what our individual and group needs and dreams are and then learn how to work as a team to realize our collective creative goals,” said Sam Costello, founder of SoSA.

“There is no lack of talented and passionate artist and art students who attend USM, but it can feel a bit disjointed,” Shacklett said. “We want to make opportunities for USM artists while creating spaces for artists to mingle, network, and embrace art.”

Members of SoSA work in a variety of different mediums. Shacklett is a Fine Arts major focusing on printmaking, sculpture and installation. Sam Costello, the original founder of SoSA, said she makes art pieces using natural materials. Ashley Ricker is a painter and illustrator, often creating through a realist lens. Ryder Kallweit explores a variety of forms, including illustration, photography and book arts.

With many different perspectives and skill sets, members of SoSA aspire to create a communal atmosphere for student artists.

“We want there to be fluidity between all of the different arts of USM, to help each other as well as be more connected and intertwined because that’s really what community is,” Ricker said.

Photo Courtesy of SoSA


Michael Shaunessy, a sculpture professor, is the current faculty advisor for the organization. According to Ricker, Damir Porobic, a printmaking instructor, and Hannah Barnes, a painting instructor, are also supportive of SoSA and contribute to their meetings.

A staple of SoSA is their coordination of field trips to art exhibitions in Maine. This ties into their community-building mission that encourages student artists to find inspiration in professional work, and support conversation about art.

“I think the art road trips are my favorite part of SoSA so far,” Costello said. “It has been so fulfilling to get to know like-minded students on our off-campus excursions to galleries, museums, studios, and other art-themed locations around New England.”

By viewing the artwork together, they are able to find new meaning in their own work..

“SoSA is important to help make connections and build experience. College is all about getting out what you put in,” said Kallweit.

“We have the power as students to make a difference, and to give a better experience to USM students involved in art as much as we can, because that’s what we want for ourselves, and we think everyone deserves that,” said Ricker.


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