Serafina Kennedy has always loved making art, so she knew from young age that she would pursue art as a career. She loves the versatility of visual arts and is comfortable using it as a means of expression. At Rutgers University New Brunswick, Kennedy is completing a major in Visual Arts and a minor in Cultural Anthropology. After earning a bachelor’s degree in spring 2022, Kennedy plans to attend artist residencies and enroll in graduate school to pursue an MFA. Her ultimate goal is to find ways in which she can use her art to help others.
At Rutgers, Kennedy is part of the Mason Gross School of the Arts mentoring program. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all classes were held remotely. The college created a program in which upperclassmen are partnered with underclassmen in an effort to familiarize them with on-campus life and classes. Kennedy says she loves being a mentor because she’s able to build stronger relationships with younger artists at her school.
Kennedy has been involved with antiracism efforts in several ways. As the social media coordinator for the nonprofit Windows of Understanding, she created content that promoted protests and lectures about racial issues in the area. Kennedy also posted about local artists’ racism-related work.
She currently works as Heather Hart’s assistant. Hart is an interdisciplinary artist whose work is centered around African studies, digital archiving, and power relations. She is also the founder of the Black Lunch Table (BLT), an organization that works to amplify the lives and works of Black artists.
Kennedy has also attended protests in her New Jersey hometown and on Rutgers’ campus, but recalls that she did not always possess this courage. In high school, she and her classmates rarely discussed politics because they all held very different political views. Kennedy did not address racist comments made in classes because she was afraid of confrontation, but realized that by ignoring these remarks, she was allowing racist culture to permeate her school. Even though she was nervous about it, she began correcting misinformation when it was stated. She did receive backlash but also found that many other students agreed with her. Kennedy believes that calling out racist comments helped other students feel more comfortable.
“While growing up, I believed that the people in my community were kind and supportive to all, regardless of race. However, after George Floyd’s death, when conversations about race began within the community, I started to recognize the racist ideologies a significant number of my fellow community members held. It saddens me to think how blind I was to reality. In hindsight, I can see how naive I was to this culture, however when I was younger, I never realized I was only treated with respect because of the color of my skin.”
Kennedy’s personal wish is to find good artist residencies after college so she can travel around the world (Number One on her bucket list!), work on her art, and meet other artists.
Regarding the world, Kennedy believes that wishing for world peace is too much of a cliché. “I think the first step we need to take to achieve world peace is to accept everyone for who they are,” she said, so her global wish is universal acceptance.
When not doing course work or art, Kennedy would most likely be found embroidering, reading, cooking, or running.