New art gallery showcases alumni

Photo by Valerie Perez | Mercury Staff.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated since its original publication.

Following the destruction of the Art Barn, UTD relocated its art gallery to a 6,000 square foot studio on campus, and is displaying its first show, “Critical Mass.”

The art gallery, known as the SP/N Gallery, opened on Oct. 1. Located in a rented gallery off of Stewart Drive and across the road from the residence halls, the new space has several advantages.

Apart from a bigger studio, the enclosed gallery also has upgraded security measures as the previous Art Barn could not lock, and safety of the artwork was an issue. Its storefront windows and portable walls also serve as upgrades to the functionality of the gallery.

Linda Weitz is an art student who had been a student at the Art Barn. She said that the portable walls and the open space allows the SP/N gallery to compete with Dallas’s professional art galleries.

“I was one of those that was sad to see the Art Barn go,” she said. “But I understand that it could be a step towards something better.”

The alumni exhibition at the SP/N Gallery not only served as an introduction to the new studio, but also was a reminder to the UTD campus about the importance of visual art, said Dennis Kratz, dean of the school of arts and humanities. He said that it was a wake-up call to the administration and the university body about the importance of the influence of the arts on the campus and in students’ lives.

“We’re not educating engineers,” Kratz said. “We’re educating people, rounded, thoughtful individuals who do engineering, and to do that, you need the visuals arts, you need theater, you need dance.

The faculty board that set up the exhibition specifically chose alumni to showcase in the gallery’s first art show to serve as a reflection of the growth and evolution of the arts program at UTD.

Professor Marilyn Waligore is a professor of photography and served on the faculty board for selecting the artists. She said this exhibition, which is the first show to feature alumni, can serve as a demonstration of how previous UTD art students navigate the professional art world.

A common theme among the artwork is a call for social justice. For example, the gallery features artwork describing the homeless epidemic, the high rate of animal extinction and gender roles in acting industry.

“It’s exciting to see how students have used their art to engage in a dialogue with members of their communities, and different communities are represented in terms of the kinds of projects,” Waligore said. “I think that that’s really exciting, because you think about the impact art has in a social context. It’s really powerful and it both educates, but also impacts people.”

The exhibition lasts until Nov. 11, and Kratz said that he is excited for additional exhibitions to come. His vision for the SP/N gallery includes showings of pop-up theater, installation art, conventional art, interactive displays and film.

“This university desperately needs to be more adventurous, and art is adventure,” Kratz said. “It’s a way of creating things that make the ordinary extraordinary, and take you away from thinking that everything is as it seems.”

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