Alum Creates Positive Change Through Art
2005 Gesu graduate succeeds in media studies and career.
Saeed Briscoe, Gesu Class of 2005, balances his studies at Temple University with managing his own business and serving his community. Although still in college, he has developed his own brand, SaeedsVP—photography, film, graphic design, and apparel. Briscoe owes his creativity to his Mom. He owes his strong work ethic and character to his Dad. And he owes his “ability to balance all of this” to Gesu School.
Briscoe credits his success to Gesu’s environment and teachers, who provided “the foundation for making yourself and the world better.” He elaborates, “Everything I learned here, in some aspect or arena of my life, I know I’m still referencing….even Sr. Ellen’s discipline. Fr. Neil and Fr. Bur—the structure they set. They always maintained a safe learning environment, and that was very significant. That’s part of nurturing the whole person.” When he started at West Catholic High School, Briscoe attests that he “felt confident and ready.”
Encouraged by the Gesu community, Briscoe discovered his creativity at age 12. He recalls meeting Gesu Board Member, Keith Pension, in the cafeteria while he was drawing. They discussed his art, done in pen on computer paper. Ms. Pension asked what would benefit Briscoe’s work. He answered simply—a pencil and drawing paper. For his birthday, Ms. Pension accompanied Briscoe to purchase proper art supplies to nurture his talent.
In high school, Briscoe continued cultivating his artistic skills. In 2009, he won a tri-state competition with his modern take on Cezanne’s, “The Card Players.” His mixed-medium piece, “The Gamble,” hung in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Years after their initial conversation, Ms. Pension attended the exhibit. “It still resonates with me that she recognized my work and took the time to invest in it,” Briscoe recounts.
Briscoe earned his Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts in 2013 from Community College of Philadelphia. He transferred to Temple and has flourished in his major, Media Studies and Production. Briscoe constantly challenges himself to “know fundamentals and respect the craft,” taking on internships in photography and graphic design.
Briscoe’s art conveys a social message. The Power Project, a photo series, draws inspiration from Renaissance portraits of royalty and influential social leaders, such as Gandhi. The series captures everyday, authentic individuals in regal poses “to see themselves as powerful and acknowledge individuals making humanity better,” states Briscoe.
A true artist, Briscoe boldly “embraces all forms,” including filmmaking. He single-handedly wrote, directed, and produced the feature-length film, TIES—Lost in Life, screened in 2014 at Philadelphia’s Beckett Life Center. The film chronicles a young couple’s relationship and the struggles Briscoe has witnessed living in North Philadelphia, such as poverty and drug culture.
Despite his demanding schedule, Briscoe regularly gives back to his community. He helped create POPPYN, Presenting Our Perspective on Philly Youth News. In conjunction with Temple’s University Community Collaborative of Philadelphia, the program teaches media production to high school students, empowering them to create positive images of youth.
Self-assured, yet humble, Briscoe has lofty goals. Drawing from his foundation at Gesu “to always strive” and to be a man for others, he plans to grow his business—writing films and novels that have a social conscience.
We eagerly await his next creation.
“Through all my work, the one core thread is to elevate the everyday experience, typically to empower somebody.
A lot in the media is divisive. I recognize my platform and my capability to use it in a positive light.”
—Saeed Briscoe ’05
Saeed Briscoe ’05, and Gesu Board Member, Keith Pension, celebrate his winning piece at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Saeed Briscoe’s Power Project photo series embodies the theme that “everyone is significant.”
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