March 6, 2018 - 2:30pm
Annual student-curated exhibit runs March 8 – April 6
What is the role of art in society and in what ways does it impact people?
Vancouver Island University (VIU) Visual Arts students are showcasing their answers to these questions in Make a Statement, the third-annual student-curated spring show at The View Gallery. For some, this annual exhibit is the first opportunity to connect what they are doing in the classroom with what they plan to do once they graduate – go out in the world and present themselves and their artwork to society in a professional environment.
Brenda Flynn, a fourth-year visual arts student, is curating the show as part of a directed studies course. She chose the theme based on her own explorations of and reflections on how art catches a viewer’s attention.
“Whether the viewer likes or dislikes the art, I hope there’s some communication about the pieces, and that people will go back and talk about it,” she says. “If so, then the student has had some sort of influence on the viewer.”
Nearly two dozen student artists will showcase a wide range of 2D and 3D works in Make a Statement. Flynn says curating an exhibit while still a student is “the opportunity of a lifetime.” Working with Dr. Justin McGrail, a VIU Visual Arts professor and Curator of The View Gallery, she has learned how to choose a theme, send out a call for artist participation, determine which pieces will be part of the exhibit, promote the show, and prepare the space for the exhibit.
“As curator, it’s your job to present the artist’s work in its best light,” she says. “I’m learning what to look for. It’s a real honour to be able to do this and I feel that this opportunity is going to enhance my abilities and career possibilities.”
Flynn says Make a Statement also reflects her experiences of being a mature student coming back to school later in life. While she’s always wanted to become an artist, she took the time to raise three children then began working in an art gallery. Now that her children are grown, she found the courage to return to school to pursue her passion. Last year, she was awarded the E.J. Hughes Memorial Scholarship in Visual Arts in recognition of her hard work.
“I feel like I’m making a statement just by being here,” she says. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and it’s never too late. My daughter was already here in the Bachelor of Education program and she helped me adjust. Just walking in the door was hard.”
McGrail says on top of offering one curatorial training position per year to an undergraduate student, The View Gallery is also able to offer two gallery assistant positions to students every year. Several of these students have gone on to work in art galleries off-campus.
“For the assistant curators, it gives them a hands-on experience in how to curate art, and it sets them up in terms of their expectations about what curators can do for them,” he says. “It expands their definition of what it means to work in the art world. Any art gallery experience on your resume really, really counts when you’re applying for jobs at art galleries.”
McGrail hopes to one day offer full classes in art curation, on top of the directed studies course that allows one student each year to step into his shoes.
Make a Statement runs March 8 – April 6 at The View Gallery (Building 330) on VIU’s Nanaimo Campus. Gallery hours are Monday to Thursday, 11 am to 5 pm. The opening reception takes place Thursday, March 8 from 6:30 – 9 pm.
Visit The View Gallery for more details.
Jenn McGarrigle, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University