CSU Art Department’s Mini Gallery provides experience for student artists

Ashley Potts

There are seven official art galleries at Colorado State University. Many have featured student work, but only one is dedicated to art by and for student artists.

The Mini Gallery is hidden in the “F” wing of the Visual Arts Building. It functions as an essential steppingstone for many student artists as they strive for careers in the art world. 

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Last weeks Mini Gallery in the visual arts building featuring several artists brought an interactive experience with the viewing. The gallery featured a dinner table, various pieces of furniture, hidden notes with inspirational words, and a rack of clothes in order for the viewer to ‘dress for the occasion. Photo by Olive Ancell | Collegian

The gallery is “mini” both in dimension and show length. The room is small and includes nothing but stark white walls and a drab concrete floor, but every week it is transformed. Exhibitors have one week to exhibit, according to Undergraduate Coordinator, Elizabeth Sorenson. 

Signups are opened one week before finals. It is open to all undergraduates, but seniors get priority. Sorenson is the holder of the Mini Gallery signup sheet, which usually fills up within the first day. Occasionally, students like Shannon Slack and her collaborators get lucky, though. Their show only happened because a slot opened up midway through the semester. The three-person show, entitled “Smörgasbord,” was the show in the gallery last week. It was a complex, interactive, collaborative installation show.

This is my first big collaboration, especially as an installation,” said the senior art major, studying painting and graphic design. “I had to think about how I want my art to be viewed and how I think art should be viewed in contemporary times.” 

Last weeks Mini Gallery in the visual arts building featuring several artists brought an ineractive experience with the viewing. The gallery featured a dinner table, various pieces of furniture, hidden notes with inspirational words, and a rack of clothes in order for the viewer to ‘dress for the occasion. Photo by Olive Ancell | Collegian

Slack has had her work displayed in other galleries, but felt there was something special about the Mini Gallery. Namely, feedback from peers outside the usual classroom setting, she said. 

Gallery administrator, Evie Tilley, adjusts a painting part of the newest exhibit in the Poudre Studio Artists & Galleries, LoCo Motion. LoCo Motion features creative and fun pieces of things that move and ways to here to there. The exhibit is open from February 28 through March 30 and is open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

“I think the biggest benefit is that the mini gallery is a place to present what you’re thinking about for you capstone show,” Slack said, referring to the capstone show every art major pursing a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts must present as their thesis before graduation. “To get feedback in the mini gallery on what you’re imagining for you capstone is really helpful.”

The Mini Gallery is also used as the first step art students take out of the classroom. There is both freshness and vulnerability in each show. 

Gary Huibregtse, who is a photo image making professor, believes this step is vital in an artist’s creative cycle.

“I think we want to be moved, we want to feel something when we look at work,” Huibregtse said. “That’s part of the gallery and the exhibition. It’s emotional communication.”

Emotional communication can be delivered through art, Huibregtse said.

“I don’t think it’s art necessarily until the piece becomes an act of communication,” Huibregtse said. “The creative cycle is completed by us showing our work and that’s why we have things like the Mini Gallery.”

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Last weeks Mini Gallery in the visual arts building featuring several artists brought an ineractive experience with the viewing. The gallery featured a dinner table, various pieces of furniture, hidden notes with inspirational words, and a rack of clothes in order for the viewer to ‘dress for the occasion. Photo by Olive Ancell | Collegian

Slack also said she believes showing work is an important step for student artists.

Last weeks Mini Gallery in the visual arts building featuring several artists brought an interactive experience with the viewing. Photo by Olive Ancell | Collegian

“I think if you’re trying to say something with your art, which most people are, it takes showing that to somebody to actually make that come to fruition,” Slack said. “And if you are wanting it to be your sole source of income you’re going to have to show it to someone.”

Slack said her show in the Mini Gallery inspired her to continue her creative process and keep showing her work.

“It’s made me want to push my limits,” Slack said. “I want to keep doing it.”

If you are interested in  exhibiting art in the Mini Gallery, please contact Elizabeth Sorensen and Elizabeth.Sorensen@Colostate.edu.

Collegian reporter Ashley Potts can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @11smashley.