College art galleries have two main purposes, says Carrie Tomberlin, lecturer in photography at UNC Asheville and director of the university’s S. Tucker Cooke Gallery.
First, she says, “We are here to give our art students the chance to exhibit their own work and to create exhibitions.”
Additionally, she continues, campus galleries “extend the curriculum by bringing in guest artists to show students they can succeed with their art degree after school. And we try very hard to get a wide variety of artists in all disciplines and at different stages in their careers.”
Artist Gerry Wubben of Greenville, S.C., kicks off Cooke Gallery’s fall season on Monday, Sept. 5, with Monumental Intimacy: A Drawing Survey, a collection of hyperrealistic works in pencil, ink, charcoal and acrylic. The opening reception is Thursday, Sept. 8, 6-8 p.m.
“I am planning on a packed show of 50-plus works,” Wubben says. The drawings, he adds, will range from small-scale to wall-size creations.
UNCA is not alone in its latest efforts to prepare art students for professional lives outside academia. Other local universities and colleges are gearing up for their own fall semester exhibits, as well. These collections, note gallery directors and curators, benefit not only the students but the community at large.
Practice what you teach
Piggybacking on Tomberlin’s list, Skip Rohde, director of the Weizenblatt Gallery at Mars Hill University, offers a third purpose for campus art shows. Exhibits, he notes, allow art faculty members to show their work so students can see how their instructors practice what they teach.
At MHU, the latest Faculty Biennial Art Exhibit hosts its opening reception Wednesday, Sept. 7, 6-8 p.m. The show will feature ceramics by Shane Mickey and Liz Summerfield, drawing and painting by Scott Lowrey, photography by Paige Taylor, graphic design by Lora Eggleston and paintings by Rohde himself. The show closes Wednesday, Sept. 14.
Unlike previous iterations, Rohde is adding MHU alumni to the faculty roster, with an assemblage/sculpture by Daniel Frisbee, mixed media by Kristalyn Bunyan and Court McCracken, graphic design by Sarah Ingalls and Kendall Bines, and photography by Kiersten Foust.
“We wanted to show our current students that there is an artistic life after graduation,” Rohde says. “And we want the community to see that our alumni are doing some really good work.”
Expansive and eclectic
Meanwhile, at Warren Wilson College, the Elizabeth Holden Gallery is going in a different direction with Reside: Reflections from Township10. It’s the first group show taking place off campus at Township10, a new artist retreat on a 30-acre farm — and former home of East Fork pottery — near Marshall.
Reside features 21 artists, mostly working in ceramics, whose pieces were created while at the retreat. Combined, the eclectic group represents 10 states, though the artists’ roots extend well beyond the borders of the continental U.S. to include Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Scotland, Taiwan and South Korea. Currently open, the exhibit runs through Friday, Oct. 7.
Julie Caro, professor of art history at Warren Wilson and curator for the Elizabeth Holden Gallery, says she asked Marjorie Dial, founder of Township10, if the college gallery could host its latest exhibit on the property after visiting the space in 2021.
“I decided to have this be an experiential learning project for two of our art history majors, Meredith Ahmet and Biiwaabik Hunt, both class of 2023,” Caro says. The two students selected the initial group of works and the general theme for the show — artistic responses to the mountain landscape of Township10.
They also devised interactive components for the show, including a reading nook with books from the Township10 library and a video of one of the artists at work.
“They’ve also selected a bunch of shards from the creek that will be in the gallery for a visitor to rearrange artistically,” Caro says. “This aspect of the show is an invitation to visitors to take up residence in the space themselves and be thoughtful and creative, similar to the residency experience.”
For more information on Monumental Intimacy: A Drawing Survey, visit avl.mx/by0. Additional information on Faculty Biennial Art Exhibit is available at avl.mx/8×8. For more on Reside: Reflections from Township10, visit avl.mx/by3.