It is that time of year again when the Steel Plant is transformed into a showcase for contemporary art. The Faculty Exhibition opened to the public for viewing on Sept. 19th located in the Marist Art Gallery. The exhibition contains a variety of artwork presentations and runs daily from 12 p.m.-5 p.m. until Oct. 22nd.
Although the exhibition is available for over a month, the majority of people visit the Marist Art Gallery on the opening night.
“Generally you get the most people on the opening night because it’s more of a social event,” said Ed Smith, Art Gallery Director, Professor of Art, and artist.
In hopes of drawing in a large crowd, the gallery openings typically take place on a Thursday night to avoid clashing with other campus events.
“Thursday is a good time to stage the gallery openings because both faculty and students are still on campus and have not departed for the weekend yet,” said Matt Frieburghaus, Associate Professor of Digital Media Chair, Department of Art and Digital Media, and artist.
Opening night alone brings in around 400 people to the gallery. During the week the crowd is much slower and gives less attention to the exhibits.
“I have class in the Steel Plant, and while I’m there I do not witness many people viewing the exhibits,” said Chelsea Dua, an art student.
Lack of attendees are somewhat expected, especially by members of the art community who have been a part of the exhibition for years now.
“There are only going to be certain people interested in art,” said Smith, “The purpose of the reception is about respect for the artists and their work.”
The massive increase in the crowd on opening night is due to the incentives offered upon arrival. Several types of hors d’oeuvres and drinks are displayed near the door as a thank you to those who attend.
“The food is definitely the main reason students choose to attend the exhibit on opening night,” said Robyn Silverstein, a gallery employee. “Besides for the reception, the artwork does not receive much attention.”
The question has been raised about potentially offering incentives during the remainder of the exhibition to increase student participation in the event.
“We would have to have a huge budget to afford providing food during the entirety of the exhibition,” said Smith.
Not all members of the art community feel as though incentives would increase participation nor would they want people to visit simply for the rewards.
“The purpose of the Faculty Art Exhibition is for the Marist students and community to understand who we are as artists,” said Frieburghaus,“I don’t think drawing them in with incentives would increase their interest in art.”
Artists want people to be uplifted by the quality of their work. Unfortunately in today’s society, they do not always gain the recognition they deserve.
“All working artists question whether they feel recognized at some point,” said Smith, “It is the psychology of the artist in society.”
Besides having to schedule around campus events, there are also outside factors that come into play as well.
“There has not been a constant stream of visitors this year due to vicissitudes of the weather, campus activities, and construction all over campus,” said Smith.
More students opt to attend the Student Exhibition towards the end of the semester to support their friends.
“One of the busiest events that takes place at the Marist Art Gallery is the Student Exhibition,” said Liz Bouyea, a gallery employee. “The Student Exhibition receives more recognition than the Faculty Exhibition because students promote it.”
Contrary to students, faculty members who are full time professors do not have the time to work on public relations for their exhibition.
“Most students do not spend much time on public relations for the faculty exhibit, they put all their effort into the student show instead,” said Silverstein.
To increase appreciation for the artworks, the Marist Art Gallery sets aside specific time periods for groups to visit.
“When Marist visitors start to slow down, the gallery schedules outside visits to increase support,” said Smith.
Just last week, groups of school children, parents, and cub scouts were invited to the gallery to appreciate the art.
“Some people believe artists do not have as good of a status in America,” said Smith, “In turn, artist’s works do not receive the compliments they probably deserve.”
In spite of all this, artists must keep in mind that it is an honor bestowed upon them to have a work of art displayed in the Marist Art Gallery.
Whether the contributing artists feel recognized or not, the Faculty Art Exhibition desires to educate the Marist community on the history and the nature of art, and it continues to inspire all those who witness their artwork each day in the Steel Plant.