Photo by Claire Ott
By Claire Ott
On Monday, April 8, Western’s B Gallery opened its new exhibit “Much Improved” to the public eye. Located in the Art Annex, the show is held in a small, well-lit room which displays the work of Suzie Marco, Hank Reavis, Lily Foss and Riley Itano.
The B Gallery is a student-run exhibition space, advised by Ryan Kelly, a ceramics professor for the Department of Art & Art History, which organizes a variety of exhibits displayed throughout the year. The group is entirely volunteer-based and provides students, staff and faculty of all areas of study with the opportunity to display their creations in a professional setting.
The gallery experience allows students to build up their resume in a way that feels less high-pressure than an off-campus establishment may, said gallery publicity coordinator Newt Warren.
Once involved, gallery volunteers have the ability to tell potential employers they have had hands-on experience with running a gallery, and the artists are able to say that their work has been featured in a real exhibit.
It is important to those running the gallery, such as Gallery Director Claireasa Golden, that it remains a space where the members of campus are given a chance to hone the skills they’ve learned in their classes and from their peers.
“We want it to be a Western experience; not a Bellingham experience,” Golden said.
The gallery is hoping to obtain more funding in order to maintain its purpose of providing campus members with professional gallery experience by fall of 2020. Currently receiving $250 per school year, according to Claireasa, the B Gallery is long overdue for new ceilings, as the current ceiling is water damaged. The volunteers have a variety of other adjustments they’d like to make to the room in hopes of improving the experience for campus members in the future.
Warren noted how while artists have the capacity to collaborate, the showroom does not have a specific theme.
“All of the artists curate the show themselves,” she said.
Having been around for nearly a decade, the gallery has had submissions from students of multiple majors. The gallery encourages artists of all kinds to apply, including those who have pursued differing programs. Since these projects are not created for a class or grade, the group encourages all to take advantage of the opportunity.
They are also accepting applications for new volunteers to help direct, prepare and publicize future events for the 2019-2020 school year that are due May 5 at midnight.
Hours upon hours of care are put into these events by all who are involved in the process; the artists have bonded over their shared experience of working with each other on these pieces, according to Itano, a third-year student.
Being that all four of them are currently enrolled in the same program, the students have beewn able to strengthen their connection with each other even further than they’d be able to if they merely shared a campus.
While all of them have their own distinct style, there is a sense of unison throughout the exhibit that can be noted upon viewing.
“We didn’t start making the show from the standpoint of having a central theme across all of the works. We’re a group of friends and we always interact with each other while making stuff. We bounce ideas off of each other, and we knew that we wanted to work together on something,” Itano said.
He mentioned that all four artists admire the other’s artistic style. Itano mentioned that in working together, the artists were able to learn from one another and refine their skills in areas that are less commonly displayed in the fine art community, such as airbrushing. This medium can be seen throughout the exhibit alongside or combined with acrylic paintings, articles of clothing, 3D textile sculptures and other mixed media projects.
The exhibit can be found in the Art Anneax until April 19, and is free for all viewers.