Two hands. A one-eyed apple. These illustrations of symbols of knowledge and wisdom interact with a canvas painted by Palo Alto High School senior Faustine Wang, for her Advanced Placement Art concentration, a portfolio of her twelve best pieces. Wang’s experience in painting portraits like those for her concentration and dedication to nonprofit work prompted her to begin a club that encompassed both of those passions: the Artruism Club.
Wang, along with University of California-Davis freshman and psychology major Sasha Afroz, the Artruism Club’s other president and co-founder, have taken their interests in art to the next level by starting the club.
Wang and Afroz met at a summer program called COSMOS at UC Irvine last year, and hit it off. Despite living in different cities, the two continued to stay in touch.
The duo founded the Artruism club in early May, driven by Wang at Paly and Afroz at UC Davis. Afroz, who went to high school at Basis Independent Silicon Valley, and Wang were motivated by their boredom during quarantine, due to COVID-19, and their experience as artists. The two became inspired to design a club that raises money for individuals through art commissions.
“Art has always been a great part of my life,” Wang said. “Earlier this year in April, when we just went into shelter-in-place, my friend Sasha reached out to me with the idea of fundraising for people affected by COVID-19 through art commissions. I loved that idea because it allowed us to give back to our community through our talents, so I wanted to create a platform with her through which other artists can contribute as well.”
Wang and Afroz decided to combine the words ‘art’ and ‘altruism’ to brand their club as “Artruism,” which they said described the club’s charitable nature.
“We thought it best encompassed the meaning and purpose of our initiative, to use artwork for a good charitable purpose in an organized manner,” Afroz stated in an email to the Voice.
The club intends to raise awareness and money for social issues such as mental health and wellness, which is its main initiative for the rest of the school year. When someone donates to the club’s designated charity, which usually changes every quarter, Artruism members create art dedicated to the requested subject matter from the donor.
“People looking to commission pieces would donate directly to a charity, fill out a google form presenting their proof of donation and what they want to request, then a volunteer artist on our team would complete the piece and send it to them digitally,” Wang said.
Expanded to both Paly and Davis, the club has over 50 volunteer artists, comprised so far of only high school and college students, despite the club being open to artists of all ages.
“Anyone who’s interested can help out: People interested in supporting a cause or buying art can donate to our designated charities to commission artwork, people with art skills can contribute by creating art for the commissions (We are even thinking about selling art prints or doing auctions in the future), people can volunteer by providing research about our specific focuses,” Wang stated in a message.
Senior JP Mouloudj, a commission artist for the club, said he joined in hopes of fulfilling an artistic side he hasn’t gotten in touch with in a while. Though he has been drawing cartoons for his younger brother ever since he was a little kid, the Artruism club has given him another avenue for expressing his talent.
“It’s nice because it’s like there are rolling commissions that come in and you just pick one up and start doing it,” Mouloudj said. “I’ve started some commissions in the club, and I see it as being something that can potentially grow to be more active in the future. Right now, mainly the digital art people are doing most of the artwork, but if and when COVID goes away I think the more traditional, physical sort of artists will be able to show their stuff as well.”
Afroz said she hopes that the club expands to more locations in the future and continues to help gain crucial life skills not only for themselves but for the club members.
“We intend to expand by holding events, having more informational posts, and doing what we can to educate in addition to raising money,” Afroz said. “In the future, we also hope to work towards becoming a nonprofit in order to better cater our resources and information to an audience and raise funds and awareness for important causes.”
To learn more about the Artruism club, visit and follow the group on Instagram: @artruism_ and @artruismatpaly.