Student Profile Series: Jason Kelly

We Are English Majors: Jason Kelly
Jason is currently working to diversify the artwork displayed at Shields Library. We talked to him about his project and how it connects to his time as an English major.

You transferred to Davis this past fall, and upon studying in the library you found the “lack of cultural awareness exhibited by the artwork appalling,” so you've decided to make a change about that. Could you describe this change, and how the campus is contributing?


[. . .] Students and Professors from different backgrounds mix, so why should artwork remain segregated? There are places all over UC Davis’s campus which represent the different cultural communities present on campus, but few where the artwork mingles. I think that the second floor reading room of the library is a place where all students share the same space, and the artwork should reflect that. I don’t want an old-fashioned norm to remain in effect because of our ignorance. And I would be doing myself and other students a disservice if I didn’t undertake this task.


Thankfully, I received a quick reply from Bill Garrity, the Shields Library Deputy Librarian, who gave me permission to work with student organizations and artists on campus to collectively choose artwork that represents the varied cultural and ethnic communities at UC Davis. This is an ongoing project that is projected to be finished by the end of Spring quarter 2018.



What has been your favorite part of being an English major?


[. . .] Talking and writing about the ways that people express themselves through language is a passion of mine. I also love to write my own stories and characterize the world through my eyes. Being an English major at UC Davis has shown me the expansive opportunities that are available to me as I continue to write and consume others’ self-expression. I have learned to use my imagination when it comes to how I will apply the skills I am learning. I enjoy speaking with professors and other students and doing what I can to stay busy. Although deadlines can be difficult sometimes, the experience I am getting in maintaining a professional attitude and demeanor has been invaluable so far.


How has being an English major changed the way you see things, and how does it relate to the roll of “art curator”?


That’s a big question. I think that being an English major has forced me to be more open to opportunities that I encounter. [. . .] I feel like I am developing as a community organizer, business person, intellectual, networker, and marketer all at once. If the opportunities are not going to come to me, I have to make them myself. And although most of them at the moment are not turning into ways of sustaining my monthly expenses, this time in my life is the best time to be gaining the experience necessary to have an impact on the world while figuring out ways to keep a roof over my head and food on my table.