The Mary Cosgrove Dolphin Gallery hosts its first ever virtual exhibit this semester with “2020,” featuring art created between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2020.
“As with everything during this past year or so, the pandemic forced us to adapt and reevaluate how we were going to operate,” says Professor Stacey Parker, M.F.A. “With Catherine Wilcox-Titus on sabbatical, I was interim gallery director and needed to work out how to create a presence and an active schedule for a gallery that no longer had an actual space to show work. Moving to an online exhibition was the next step and something that we had been working toward already so I took this opportunity and created our first online exhibition.”
Artwork submissions rolled in until Feb. 11, 2021, and the gallery received more than 100 submissions from 50 artists. Most of the artists featured are local community artists.
“One of the reasons we put on exhibitions is because it is a great educational experience for students to be able to see the work on campus and be able to interact with the artist,” says Professor Catherine-Wilcox Titus, Ph.D. “You can’t get that kind of up-close encounter with artwork easily in other venues. When it’s designed around students and gives them access to art, it’s a great opportunity for students.”
A team of Worcester State students, made up of Bellaloraine Carey-Hicks ‘22, Angie Morales ’22, Emily Cawley ’21, Stephanie Jacher ’22, Karen Shalev ’22, and Zachary Alicandro ’21, also has a piece featured. The group entered “2020 Soundscape” that was created for their final project in the third-year practicum class led by Professor Kyle Martin, D.M.M.
“This soundscape captures audio from 2020 and guides listeners through the year via a synthesis of familiar sounds,” says Emily Cawley ’21, a VPA major with a focus in visual art. “The year started off hopeful, but society soon faced the Coronavirus pandemic, election uncertainty, police brutality, and the Black Lives Matter movement. ‘2020 Soundscape’ mashes together all of these critical topics as listeners recap this unprecedented year. The audio ends optimistically as we look forward to what 2021 has to offer—particularly a vaccine to help end the global pandemic.”
The unique nature of this exhibit meant that the gallery could feature work they were not usually able to feature, such as the “2020 Soundscape,” and showcase the trend toward interdisciplinary work seen today in the art world.
Wilcox-Titus says, “We want to grow the gallery in the direction of showcasing interdisciplinary work and as a potentially immersive site, which means we would bring together moving images, projections, and sound that would go beyond music. The direction of a lot of contemporary art is to go into this interdisciplinary and immersive environment, which is one that has been dreamt of since the birth of movies. The idea was to immerse you visually in this other world of moving images. This immersion has always been an obsession in the arts and now we have the technology to do it.”
“It has always been a goal to encourage, support and exhibit work from artists working in various media,” Parker adds. “While our gallery space is clearly appropriate for visual art and we have worked toward having the right equipment and technology to begin to show digital work in the gallery, the online platform allowed us to easily show work in video form without having to work out equipment, lighting, and sound issues that are inherent in working in a real-life space.”
Stephanie Jacher ‘22, a VPA major with a minor in composition and music technology, says that this format is “more accessible to people who can’t normally go in person.”
“I think this format will allow viewers to truly take their time in viewing all of the works and feel like they can return at any time,” Cawley adds. “Sometimes people may feel rushed when visiting a gallery or museum, but this format will allow them to fully immerse themselves in the viewing and listening experience of the works from the comfort of their own homes.”
The gallery will hold artist talks later this month open to the entire campus community and public, with the first being held on March 25 via Zoom.
“The gallery and the shows we put on are not just for artists,” Wilcox-Titus says. “The artists are always dealing with contemporary issues. Art is one way that artists process and explore current contemporary issues and debates. If you don’t come for the art, come for the ideas they deal with and the novel ways they try to work through some of those contemporary debates and issues. I hope more and more people will see the gallery as a site where you can enjoy the aesthetics but also see how artists encounter the very same issues everyone deals with in their everyday lives.”
“2020” is available for viewing as of March 4, 2021.
For more information and to view the gallery, please visit https://wsuvpagallery.weebly.com/ 
Written by VPA communications intern Karen Shalev