Student-run gallery bridges Corcoran and GW art communities

Media Credit: Erica Christian | Photo Editor

Gallery 102 will be the only student-run exhibition space for Corcoran students, who had three student-run galleries before the merger.

Joining a roster of organizations that include the Student Association, Residence Hall Association and GW Veterans, student-run Gallery 102 has made integrating Corcoran students a priority.

But unlike other organizations on campus, Gallery 102 is using art to bring the student populations together.

Eames Armstrong, a performance art graduate student, crafted a proposal for an upcoming exhibition called “Hybrid Moments,” a showcase that will be on display in November with Corcoran and GW students each contributing half of the artwork.

“It’s me sharing and trying to help build community where right now there’s this big question mark between GW students and Corcoran students and what’s going to happen and who are you people and how can we learn from each other,” Armstrong said.

Gallery 102 is the only student-run exhibition space on GW’s campus. The Corcoran had three student-run galleries, including the popular Gallery 31, which hosted student and faculty exhibitions in addition to shows from visiting artists.

And because it’s the premiere venue for Corcoran students to showcase their art on GW’s campus, gallery director Caranine Smith said the first step for Gallery 102 was opening committee meetings to Corcoran students. The committee, which votes on and organizes exhibitions, now has about 15 members, including five Corcoran students.

“We feel we have a unique setting where we can bring the students from the two schools together,” said Smith, who was hired in December to oversee the student committee meetings and help plan the exhibitions. Smith said at least 100 Corcoran students have signed up for the Gallery’s email listserv.

Michael Schiffer, a junior in the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, said he thinks Gallery 102 will become popular among students as one of the only on-campus resources available to not only display their own art, but also create their own exhibitions.

“It’s still early with the whole transition, so I think more people will be thinking about [Gallery 102], like other students, how can they get their work and show it over here,” Schiffer said.

Schiffer, who has had his work displayed in galleries in New York, Maryland, Virginia and D.C., said he is more excited about the opportunity to act as a curator than have his pieces shown there.

That’s one of the draws for many committee members, who are able to propose their own exhibitions throughout the year, select the pieces to use and choose how to present the art in the gallery space.

“Having the experience of working with the gallery and seeing the show process, marketing process, it’s such an advantage to individual artists for then trying to get gallery shows,” said Armstrong, whom fashion and style website Refinery 29 named one of its 30 under 30 rising stars in D.C.

Jordan Shelton, a sophomore majoring in fine arts, was one of the first Corcoran students to attend the committee’s meetings. He said he sees potential in the space and wants to stay involved on GW’s campus.

“We can establish a high level of quality and turn it into an elite art gallery for student space,” he said.

The committee has so far focused on outreach to art students, gauging their interest, listening to their ideas and starting a conversation about the space and how it can best serve students.

Armstrong said she hopes this dialogue will help Corcoran and GW students realize how they fit at GW together as well as boost the gallery’s presence on campus and in the larger D.C. art scene.

“It seems like the gallery is invisible. People walk by it probably hundreds of times and they don’t realize it’s there and it’s kind of shocking,” Armstrong said. “And how [do we] open up that dialogue and make it understood that the gallery isn’t just for the art students? It’s for the full University.”

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