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Trading Spaces

CFA undergraduates showcase work in new gallery

Click on the slide show above to view student works currently on display in Gallery 5.

When students stepped out of the elevator on the fifth floor of the College of Fine Arts after intercession, they didn’t see the familiar mismatched artwork and clutter of old display cases. Instead, they walked into a professional-looking art gallery, with freshly painted walls, new lighting, and thematic artwork on view.

Gallery 5, as it’s now called, was established by the school of visual arts to give undergraduates a dedicated space to display their work and an opportunity to curate their own exhibitions. The gallery will feature a new showing each month during the academic year.

“We were very happy to get the exhibition up by the time students returned from break,” says Richard Raiselis, a CFA professor of visual arts who helped curate the first exhibition. “When students arrived, they saw a totally new environment. They entered a totally different space — a professional space — which makes a wonderful gateway to the school. They were amazed at the transformation.”

Students will begin curating their own exhibitions at Gallery 5 in March. This exercise is crucial. Being an artist is not only about working in a studio and making art, it’s also about showing your work to the public, says Lynne Allen, director of the school of visual arts. Curating their own exhibitions teaches students how to choose the work that will be displayed, hang it, label it, write a press release, design the invitation for the opening, and hold an opening reception.

“Once they leave the closeness of art school, they are on their own and have to learn not only how to ‘sell’ themselves as artists but also how to get their work shown,” says Allen. “By learning how to curate an exhibition so that the art ‘works’ together thematically or materially, students gain the concept of producing a cohesive body of work.”

Emily Nollet (CFA’08), who designed the logo for Gallery 5, says the gallery is a space students need. “I think the gallery is wonderful,” she says. “It will be great to have a space where undergraduate students can display their work. There are so many incredibly talented people within CFA’s visual arts department, and they certainly deserve to be recognized.”

Allen looks forward to seeing the gallery transformed by new exhibitions each month. She hopes students create thematic exhibitions that flow throughout the space. “The idea is to approach the space as an extension of the thought process in art thematically, rather than just technically,” she says. “Our students are bright and gifted, and I feel certain they will come up with wonderfully interesting exhibitions that cross a multitude of disciplines and ideas.”

Meghan Noé can be reached at mdorney@bu.edu.