Where the art is

In the Smith Hall of Art, students lay stake to the claim: Art does, in fact, exist here.

The University’s Presidential Arts Scholars will be showcasing wall drawings, photography and sculptural work in a newly installed exhibition, “Crowded Spaces,” this weekend. “Crowded Spaces” will be displayed in the ground-floor gallery in Smith Hall, which opened after renovations last fall.

Presidential Arts Scholars at GW – of which there are eight – are awarded scholarships based on the portfolios and artistic achievements of students.

The Smith Hall gallery is completely student-run, said department chair Thom Brown. While faculty oversee the general operation of the space, the gallery is a place where undergraduate and graduate students studying art and art history can gather to display work, he said.

The exhibition, which is composed of work by freshmen, sophomores and juniors, was completely facilitated by students.

Participating students congregated last Saturday to install the work, agree on a layout for the show and situate the pieces, a process that took five hours.

“The students even designed the poster,” Brown said of advertising for the show.

Brown said that the gallery calls attention to a more specific community at the University.

“This show is a way for us to say, ‘This is what a Presidential Arts Scholar’s work looks like,’ ” he said. He related the process to how prospective dance and theater students audition, with this showing as an art student’s equivalent.

This weekend, the Presidential Arts Scholars will gather to show prospective art students their work in the gallery. Prior to the gallery space’s existence, the artwork was showcased in the halls.

Jenna Curtis, a sophomore, considers the exhibition a real reflection of what being a Presidential Arts Scholar means.

“If [prospective students] want to know what the arts at GWU is like, they have a chance with this gallery, ” she said.

Curtis, an interior design major, has a cardboard dinosaur and a feathered mask in the show. While participation in the gallery is mandatory for Presidential Arts Scholars, students themselves elect which pieces they include in the collection.

“Just being able to be part of this scholarship, not necessarily this gallery, is something I’m very proud of,” Curtis said. “But this gallery is a good reflection of our quality of work.” n

“Crowded Spaces” is open for viewing in the Smith Hall of Art through next week. A closing reception will be held Feb. 12.

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