Art Students for Independent Gallery
by KARI WETHINGTON
Space at Oberlin is a problem. Students passing the enormous construction of the science-building-to-be and covering their ears and noses against the daily onslaught of dirt-laden winds and supersonic rumbles of construction equipment might not see this as so obvious. Science students might be taken care of for the moment, but art students face the enduring challenge of finding their own space.
Since Fisher Hall provides practically the only space reserved for student artwork, first-semester senior Andy Styer, a visual arts major, said he sees the issue of space as something that needs to be fixed permanently. Holding shows in basements of houses in town, small spaces in campus dorms and the like, art students have long survived without the luxury of space. “Quick fixes” have remedied the problem to a certain extent, but Styer stressed that Oberlin needs a more permanent solution — something that will benefit both the College’s image and students interested in art.
Styer and other students have taken the initiative to search for a space in Oberlin that would house a student-run art gallery. Brainstorming and planning for this gallery began last semester and continued to be a long and arduous process.
“What I’m looking to create is something that will build community among art students and between different disciplines — dance, theater, art, music, etc.,” Styer said, also noting the importance of community involvement. “Rather than just being a part of the school, I see it being a part of the town. There are numerous extremely well-known and respected artists who live in this town or this area, but students never interact with them. I’d like the gallery to interact with them, as well as being a draw in the town. If it’s downtown, people from outside the College community will come there and look at stuff, too.”
Styer’s vision includes a year-long art class, ideally a seminar for four or five senior art majors, that would focus on topics like gallery management. Styer stressed that as a liberal arts school, Oberlin often lacks the hands-on learning experiences that would give students an edge in a career in the “real world.” Though many students work with galleries during Winter Term or obtain internships during the summer, time spent at Oberlin ignores the usefulness of such projects.
Space is the issue, and not a state-of-the-art luxury accommodation. “The College doesn’t have to fork out lots of money to invest in a top-quality gallery exhibition space. That would be wonderful, but I don’t foresee it happening. This gallery would allow students to exhibit without lots of investment from the College,” Styer said.
About the probability of such a project, Styer said, “I don’t foresee anything being finished this spring, but hopefully next fall, when I have more time and people start to know more about it — then maybe it’ll get finalized into something solid.”
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