The aesthetics of artwork in any exhibit carries the burden of an art critic’s reckoning. This reckoning, though, generally glosses over the endless business of art: lighting, insurance, contracts, pricing, delivery, labels, publicity, refreshments. Further, artists are independent thinkers by nature, and organizing them into a group exhibit can be a challenge in itself. It’s not unlike Moses leading the exodus… if the Israelites were feral cats.
This underscores the importance of student galleries. Many, perhaps even most art students never grow up to be artists. Rather, a great number somehow muster enough rationality to opt for a more level-headed career such as curating, consulting, dealing and so on. A student gallery not only shows how to produce gallery-worthy art, but also a gallery worthy of art. While student galleries are standard on most University campuses, they are often conspicuously missing from junior and community colleges. Thus the opening of MAZE Gallery, Hillsborough Community College’s new student gallery, is especially welcome. Further, EMERGE – the gallery’s inaugural exhibit – seems to suggest that the students are getting the lesson.
In regards to the art: as with most student group exhibits, artists still in development, the offering was a bit of a mixed bag compared to typical commercial galleries. However, a number of pieces stood out as especially mature. For example artist, J. Alderiso exhibited work in charcoal as well as video. Though two very different mediums, the style was consistent and well thought out. Her untitled abstract charcoal pieces particularly display a familiarity with the medium as well as composition. The pieces use a mix of abstract and figurative styles that is beginning to get tired in painting but feels fresh in charcoal.
Another example are the prints of Jeffrey Agno Chin. The work seems to reference maps or diagrams which in turn feel to lend a spacial-temporal anchor…or maybe I’m just a map-nerd and couldn’t stop staring at them. Seriously, the prints carry some sort of attachment to a time and place that communicates itself effectively.
It’s telling that I nearly forgot to ask if the students also set up the gallery for the exhibit. It takes a considerable amount of work to build something as meticulously unobtrusive as a gallery setting. Selecting work to include and where to hang it is an art in itself. When done well, these things aren’t conspicuous. Rather, as was the case, they only make themselves plain when sought out.
EMERGE was a good exhibit and MAZE Gallery a promising venue. What’s particularly significant is that the exhibit and gallery are also a reason for optimism. While at times artistic talent can be had naturally or by self-instruction, the practical skills needed for an art-world career are a bit more scarce. Real life experience in making art as well as preparing a gallery around it is invaluable. Public praise to HCC for making that opportunity even more accessible.