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Student-made art exhibit is showcased in VU Gallery

Western student Sophia Lindstrom is sharing her visual and interactive art with the local community

A painting of a dog in a mask hangs on the left wall of the VU Gallery in the Viking Union in Bellingham, Wash. on Feb. 28, 2022. "The dog represents the ways memory reshapes the past," according to Lindstrom. // Photo by Simone Higashi

The Viking Union Gallery is showcasing an exhibit called “Nostalgic for a Place I Can’t Go Back to” by Sophia Lindstrom, a fourth-year student at Western Washington University.

The gallery features visual art as well as interactive installations and is open until March 11.

Sophia Lindstrom’s visual art hangs on the walls of the VU Gallery in the Viking Union in Bellingham, Wash. on Feb. 28, 2022. Visitors may have to get close to each piece to see the detail as many of them are painted on small photographs. // Photo by Simone Higashi

A mock living room featuring a couch, table, lamp, rug, magazines, mail, dishes and other household items are at the center of the gallery. Visitors are invited to sit on the couch, look through the mail and make themselves at home in this space. Lindstrom’s exhibit is centered around personal connection with visitors and this interactive portion encourages this.

Lindstrom’s visual art is made with combinations of resin, paint pens, acrylic paints and found photography. Lots of her art includes bright colors and words over dark photographs of people she has never met. 

A table stands in the middle of the gallery, made to look like Lindstrom’s own living room in the Viking Union in Bellingham, Wash. on Feb. 28, 2022. Visitors are encouraged to sit in the chairs and touch the items on display. // Photo by Simone Higashi

“With found photography, you don't know who these people are,” Lindstrom said. “You just come up with a story and you realize how much it's changed because of the time we live in.”

Lindstrom finds old photos for her art in a variety of places: 

  • estate stores 

  • eBay 

  • in the garbage

  • on the ground outdoors

Lindstrom said that memory, grief and nostalgia are some of the main themes of the exhibit. 

Found photography art hangs on the far wall of the VU Gallery in the Viking Union in Bellingham Wash. on Feb. 28, 2022. “I think that is one of the funnest parts of art. To not know what something is,” Lindstrom said. All of the people in her artwork are strangers. // Photo by Simone Higashi

“I think a lot of the work was focused around accepting and realizing there's grief in other ways than just people to people,” Lindstrom said. 

Lindstrom’s art was made partly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the loss many people associate with it. One of her pieces reads “COVID took my twenties” and “I can’t get that back” in green over a photo of a child in a hallway.

Using words and text in visual art “can be interpreted as a command or idea or a suggestion,” said Cara Jaye, an art professor who teaches courses in drawing and photography at Western. Lindstrom’s words in her art are phrased as inner thoughts that ask open-ended questions to viewers and aim to make reflective statements.

The VU Gallery is one of three galleries on the Western campus, including the Western Gallery and the B Gallery. 

“Not a ton of people know where it is, but it is like a really central space,” VU Gallery Director Ruth Barnes said. “I mean, everybody goes to the VU.” 

The space is student-curated and run, setting it apart from other local galleries in Bellingham and is located on the fifth floor of the VU in room 507. There is also a virtual element of the VU Gallery, that shows work from past exhibits online.

“It's a pretty vital part of students’ education to show their work in a gallery setting rather than just making things and then not having anywhere to go with it,” Jaye said. “It's really helpful for their futures because then they have that experience which leads them on to other platforms and bigger experiences.” 

Artists can get their work displayed in the VU gallery by emailing the Gallery Director at or directly applying through the gallery’s “call for art.” Programs and classes can also use the space to show work, such as the Studio Art BFA Winter Exhibition that ended in February.

Although she has achieved the final product of what she wanted her work to look like, Lindstrom said she would like to keep showing her art in other places to other people. 

“I’m just so proud, and I’m so excited,” Lindstrom said.

Simone Higashi

Simone Higashi (she/her) is a third-year News Editorial student and senior reporter for The Front. Simone likes to knit and read in her free time. You can reach her at

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