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Student art on campus: Where to look

Artists at Western make an impact by getting their work in front of the public

Sasse’s most recent whiteboard piece features an orca with a mountain background. This piece was made in April of 2024. // Photo by Mina Di Virgilio

Starting in the summer of 2022, those spending time in the Wade King Recreation Center might have noticed the informational whiteboard begin to transform. Highly detailed drawings had started appearing around the daily bulletin.

The whiteboard art, which has now solidified itself into the interior landscape of the recreation center, is representative of the ways that Western Washington University students are utilizing creative methods to garner exposure for their art.

The artist behind the intricate pieces is Hannah Sasse, a former studio art turned elementary education major. 

In an interview with Sasse, she recounted her artistic journey as transient, switching between mediums for classes and out of personal interest. In school, Sasse recalled spending a lot of time working with watercolors and sketching, later exploring new techniques with mixed-media and acrylic paints. During Sasse’s senior year of high school, which took place during COVID-19, she found herself returning to watercolors, specifically working on nature scenes.

Several months after being hired by the Wade King Recreation Center in the summer of 2022, Sasse began decorating the upstairs whiteboard with illustrations to accompany the information it displayed. The drawings evolved from flowers to bats and spooky Halloween characters, then winter scenes, and eventually, the art began to take precedence over the writing on the board.

“[The whiteboard markers] are a completely different medium. I mean, they’re not comparable to anything I’ve used,” Sasse said. “I would say if anything it reminds me of working with paint, but it’s really its own thing.”


One of Sasse’s early whiteboard decorations. This was drawn in the Halloween season, October 2022. // Photo by Hannah Sasse

Sasse cited her boss at the recreation center, Ron Arnold, as one of her main inspirations for continuing the whiteboard art, alongside her impact on the student community.

“To have his support and encouragement means the world to me,” Sasse said. “And to also know how much other people like it. It feels really good to make other people smile when they walk in that building.”

Elsewhere on campus, the legacy of student art endures through the nearly 20-year running Art Drop Mini project. By inserting a dollar into any of the four gumball machines, patrons of the project will receive a small capsule with a miniature art piece inside.

The project is facilitated by the studio art program’s professional practices class. Program Manager Jenny Thompson revealed in an interview that the money collected from the project is put toward a scholarship award, which is issued to graduating studio art majors at the end of every year. Some of the income is also used for project materials.

The artwork in the machines is primarily donated by students, an opportunity which Thompson regards highly.


A sleepy Garfield drawing made by Sasse in March of 2024. The piece was made and displayed during dead week. // Photo by Hannah Sasse

“It’s a really great experience for students who are in this transitional phase. They’re making art for themselves, they’re making art for class projects, but then how do they get that out into the community?” Thompson said. “Having these machines around campus and downtown has been a really good opportunity for people to not only practice making repetitive items, but also it’s getting it out there into the community and in front of people outside of just the classroom.”

While artists and art students alike are impacting the community by displaying their works in unique ways on campus, there are several areas specifically designated for student art. According to Zoë Fejeran, a museum educator for Western, the Western Gallery houses student artwork in the spring for the BFA exhibition.

“It really is an incredible accomplishment by the students to put on that show in the Western Gallery each year,” Fejeran said in an email.

In addition to the BFA exhibition, student art is on display throughout the year in Western’s B Gallery and the Viking Union Gallery, which are both open on weekdays.

Adam Rideout Redeker

Adam Rideout Redeker is a campus life reporter for the Front. He is a third-year student studying visual journalism and Spanish. In his free time, Adam enjoys listening to music, spending time outdoors and hosting a weekly radio show on KUGS. Adam can be reached at

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