Nicole Elias, a Worcester State University visual and performing arts major

Worcester State’s Art Gallery Celebrates First Student-Curated Exhibit

April 11, 2013
By: Worcester State University News

This academic year proved one of firsts for Worcester State University’s Visual and Performing Arts Department. It began with the theatre’s first-ever student-directed and -designed play, boom, and concludes with the department’s fully devised piece, War Children, which runs from April 18-21.

It’s not just the theatre that’s moving in new directions, but also the art discipline. The trend of firsts continues with an inaugural student-curated art exhibition themed: Reinvent Reimagine Regenerate. This exhibit was put together by Nicole Elias ’14, a VPA major with a concentration in art, in collaboration with VPA Professor Catherine Wilcox-Titus.

The exhibit, which closes on Saturday, April 13, features a selection of 50 pieces submitted by students attending Worcester State, Clark University, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and Mount Wachusett Community College.

Elias, 39, traveled extensively and lived in Dublin, Ireland for nine years. Being a single parent while continuing her college education, she said before the show opened, “to accomplish this feat, will be one of my greatest achievements and milestones. It has been a long time coming.”

In an interview with Elias, she talked a bit about her artistic vision, her experience, and her thoughts process through this large undertaking.

Why and what made you decide to do the show?

My professor, Catherine Wilcox-Titus, suggested this, amongst many other opportunities for VPA/Art concentrators, to promote their skills. Plus, to curate an art exhibition has been a dream of mine for many years. This was my moment to not only try it out, but to represent WSU in an inaugural event.

Why was the theme chosen?

Reinvent, Reimagine, Regenerate was chosen because I wanted something to do with spring and the change that happens between the seasons of winter and springtime. There is some evolving, transmutation, and shift in the overall environment. This includes not only your physical surroundings, but your general mood. I left the theme open-ended to help stir the artists’ imaginations. It was broad, yet there was something for them to adhere to in order to help the creative process.

What did you get out of the experience of putting together this show?

I gained the knowledge of the inside workings of curating a smaller exhibition, in that the curator is responsible for the entire endeavor. This includes applying for grant money, creating a call to artists, contacting and keeping a dialogue with the “higher ups,” so to speak (in this case, the several colleges and universities asked to be a part of this show), being in constant contact with the artists submitting work and then the artists involved, choosing the works to be displayed, displaying the pieces in a conducive and cohesive fashion, the lighting, public relations work, and other tasks. If I were curating in a large museum like the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, there would be a person or persons involved and assigned to each task, as opposed to just one person. Although, there tends to be just one curator for each gallery.

Why the Worcester area?

Worcester is where I attend university, and this is where this endeavor takes places. It was Charlie Fox, dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, who helped make this project happen. This will help to encourage students in the fairly new arts concentration offered at WSU.

What did/do you hope to accomplish by putting on this show?

My accomplishments were to represent WSU in a positive way and also to actually get the exhibition up and running.

The artists whose work is featured in this show include Bijay Adhikari, John J. Balco, Andrea Abarca-Coutts, Patrick Driscoll, Randolph Gardner, Judy Haskell, Katherine Knutsen, Sarah Leidhold, Brenna Levitin, Jeff Loughlin, Rachel Lubanko, Kristine MacBrian, Shannon McGinty, Edmund J. Merricle II, Ashley Mulhearn, Mark Alvar Peck, Juliana Pepper, Jennifer Potvin, Pamella Saffer, Arianna Silva, Justin Silwoski, and Phyllis Wendorff.

The gallery hours are Tuesdays through Thursdays 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Artworks may also be purchased by inquiring at The Gallery, located on the first floor of the Ghosh Science and Technology Center.

Written by Edikan Brown ’14, a double-major in business administration with a concentration in accounting and visual and performing arts with a concentration in theatre

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