San Marcos,
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Bringing Students Together in the Name of Art

By Eric Breier

Iris Lee tries to visit art galleries and exhibitions as often as possible.

Unfortunately, many of her friends don’t share her interest in visual arts.

“It’s a bummer going by yourself and having no one to talk to,” Iris said.

Iris, a visual and performing arts major at Cal State San Marcos, decided to do something about it. She founded a student organization called the Staircase Exhibition, which aims to bring together visual artists and the artistically curious.

The organization officially launched in January and had five members during the spring. It has doubled in size this fall, and interest continues to grow. The group hosts events on and off campus, offers volunteer opportunities, workshops and guest speakers.

Staircase Exhibition’s visibility on campus has grown this fall through a collaboration with Energy Management and Utility Services (EMUS).

Iris had noticed that the posters adorning the sides of the Bigbelly trash cans and recycling bins throughout campus looked a bit outdated. After asking around to find out who she could contact about providing updated artwork for the bins, she was eventually directed to Stephanie Hebert, the University’s recycling and sustainability coordinator in EMUS.

Iris worked with Hebert to ensure that her artwork followed guidelines and regulations, and new posters greeted students as they returned to campus this fall.

“I have a lot of design projects, so I was very happy to have some help, especially from such a capable group,” Hebert said. “I have received such positive feedback about the designs and am really pleased at being able to showcase our students’ capabilities in support of our zero-waste program.”

Staircase Exhibition plans to update the posters every other month. A new design by student Daisy Camacho is expected to debut on the bins in October.

“We want to have our student voice out there and help the campus become more interested in the arts,” Iris said.

Staircase Exhibition is open to all students, regardless of artistic experience or ability. The group is active on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter through the handle csusmstaircase, and Iris encourages anyone who is interested to stop by one of their meetings – a calendar of events is available on the group’s website – or contact Iris at

Iris said Staircase Exhibition wants to host a student-based art exhibition on campus. While plans have not been finalized, Iris said the group is in the process of creating a proposal and hopes to work with the library and ASI to hold something during the academic year.

“We’re always thinking about ways to innovate and how to integrate our members in activities, internships or volunteer opportunities that come our way,” said Iris, who will graduate in fall 2019. “We’re always trying to make connections with our professors here and people throughout San Diego.”

Media Contact

Eric Breier, Public Affairs Specialist | Office: 760-750-7314