The Artlab Gallery doors may be closed, but its virtual walls are full of works celebrating students.
Handle With Care is a digital exhibition showcasing the art of the Bachelor of Fine Arts Practicum Class of 2020 in the Department of Visual Arts. It is the first time the year-end exhibition has gone completely digital.
Seventeen student-artists are showcased on the site, including their works, biography, and even peeks into their studio setting.
“The students’ adaptability and positive outlook have been incredible,” said Liza Eurich, Artlab Gallery manager.
The virtual gallery idea sought to recognize the significance of the final practicum exhibition while easing a bit of the disappointment of having the physical gallery show cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While the physical show and opening reception is a fantastic celebratory event, we felt that we could still offer students a vibrant platform to recognize and highlight their achievements,” Eurich said.
“This virtual exhibition showcases their work and acknowledges the effort and progress they have made in developing their practice over the course of the year.”
Eurich teamed up with Visual Arts professor Anna Madelska, technical specialist Julia Beltrano and Communications and Public Affairs web designer Mathew Hoy to create the online gallery.
Originally titled Hand Wash Only – a theme chosen prior to the COVID-19 pandemic – the show’s title was shifted by students to Handle With Care – something they found more appropriate and reflective of the current mood.
“While developed previous to this situation, it has become clear this phrase resonates deeply with how we might all be feeling currently,” Eurich said.
While the exhibition may not be the way the students imagined, there may be some advantages – like opening up their work to the largest possible audience.
“This site allows for a focused engagement with each student’s work. Plus, they (students) opened up their studio spaces to us and included personal images to help contextualize their practices. Something like that would not be part of a traditional exhibition,” Eurich said.
“This online platform also has the potential to be shared outside the physical space of the gallery. It is our hope this might create visibility, while also engaging new or unexpected audiences.”