Letter to the Editor
This is written in response to an article that appeared in the Aug. 24 issue expressing concern for the conversion of the UC Art Gallery into a conference room. I serve as a coordinator in the Office of Student Activities, and I previously was responsible for managing the UC Gallery. I am also an alumnus of the university, having graduated as a studio art major in the College of Fine Arts in 2006.
The decision to convert the space was a difficult one, but weighing the need for this space by our office, the conclusion was reached that we needed to expand in order to support our work. Our administrative office works to support the 250+ student organizations on campus, and the expansion of our office space will now serve as a meeting location, a storage space for the materials that we use for annual events that we coordinate on behalf of students, and office space for graduate students and undergraduate office assistants that we employ.
What made the proposal for altering the space compelling is that in tracking participation for exhibitors and spectators, the UC Art Gallery space was under-utilized. I believe that there were only four students who chose to display in the space for the entire 2008–2009 year and I was in contact with the School of Art and members of student organizations to try and bolster the schedule. Even with some of the most compelling and beautiful shows, it appeared that few people would enter the space. The remaining biweekly shows were substantiated by the Division of Student Affairs and campus partners in support of thematic events tied to heritage months or in tandem with annual conferences.
As one used to getting down and dirty as an art major, I can say with a degree of certainty the UC Gallery is not an ideal space to display artwork. Artists could not nail into the walls, could not alter the structure of the space, and could not leave the space dirty. All wall-hanging works needed to be suspended from a track system, which made it difficult to display pieces at a uniform height, and materials utilized for suspending works in the space was a consistent point of frustration. Video artwork and installations were difficult to manage and maintain, as closing for the gallery would be managed by various individuals from the UC staff.
I believe that, given the parameters, those displaying in the space found it difficult to “make it their own,” something which is afforded by other spaces on campus. One such gallery is The Frame, run by students on campus with support from our office. Artists looking to display on campus are welcome to visit our office to explore other potential locations. The Student Activities staff is committed to meeting the needs of our students and supporting the wide breadth of interests that each of our students has.
Taylor Grabowsky, Office of Student Activities