Student Art Gallery: A Look Inside Evergreen’s Student-Driven Art Space
by Josh Wolf \ photos by Issac Scott
Over the past few months, The Student Art Gallery at The Evergreen State College has been trying to build momentum as a student-run art space. “The Evergreen Student Gallery seeks to connect creative students through the experience of curating, exhibiting, and promoting student-generated art on campus.
“Through workshops, critiques, and collaborating with members of the Evergreen and Olympia arts community, we offer a bridge between being a student and professional artist,” says the Gallery’s mission statement.
At the Student Art Gallery, people can choose their own level of involvement.
“You can stop by and just drop off your art; you can curate a show; you can keep the gallery open, or whatever you want,” says Gallery Coordinator Eva Goubert.
The Gallery works to help students feel comfortable in presenting their art to the community. “It’s really hard for artists to get shows on their own, but the Student Gallery is a place where up-and-coming artists can get experience putting on shows. You won’t find a more open space,” says Goubert.
The gallery kicks off new shows with an open-mic, and shows rotate every two weeks. Most of the shows have themes to guide the artists, and many of the shows have a political tone.
“Our first show this year was called ‘Woman by Womyn.’ In feminist art, there is a movement about reclaiming the body, because traditionally, women’s bodies have been represented through the eyes of men,” says Goubert. “There has been a big movement to redefine what a beautiful body is, so we had a show with art made exclusively by people who identify as women. I think shows like this definitely tie into the dialogue people have on campus.”
Goubert believes that the gallery is an ideal space for aspiring student artists to gain exposure. “Although it’s a nice space where people can hang out, I think it’s much more than that. The gallery is a good opportunity for people who want careers as working artists, because it can be really hard to get shows once you graduate, but if you already have experience producing shows when you graduate, it makes it much easier to get a show.”
Although the gallery is available for any student to present their art, Goubert says people are often hesitant. “People can be really intimidated to display work in a space… but this isn’t only a space for masterpieces. We are trying to get people to feel comfortable with the gallery, and show people that no one is trying to invalidate anyone’s pieces in the gallery,” said Goubert. “I think that when you call something art, people start to get intimidated, just because the word has a sort of stupid prestige behind it, but really everything imaginable is art. I’d display anything. It’s part of being able to find beauty in everything.”
Goubert doesn’t think that objectivity and judgment belong in art. “I don’t think it’s fair for people to judge other people’s art. I really don’t feel right telling anybody that their art isn’t worth something, or that their art isn’t as good as somebody else’s, because art is something that is so subjective. For instance, think about someone like Jackson Pollock, who is renowned for doing splatter paintings. It’s just really subjective. Sometimes I think the wonkiest shit looks so cool.” Goubert hopes to create a safe space for student encouragement and support.
Although Goubert technically has the power to decide what art is displayed in the gallery, she doesn’t believe in censorship. “I would never individually censor someone’s art. If there is a piece that I think could cause some controversy, then we would decide what to do as a group,” says Goubert. “I don’t believe that anyone has the right to say that someone else’s art is invalid, or even that it’s possible for someone else’s art to take priority.”
Goubert focuses on encouraging people to use the gallery. “There is so much art that is so cool that never makes it out of peoples’ bedrooms. I don’t believe in editing someone’s art without their consent.”