Student Union decks its halls with student artwork

Wilder starts new program

by Melody R. Waller

Upon first glance, it might seem like the art collection of the Louvre is on tour in Wilder Hall.

Over Thanksgiving break, the main floor of Wilder was transformed into an art gallery. The incorporation of artwork into the Student Union is part of an "ongoing effort to make Wilder more warm and inviting to students," according to Associate Dean of Student Life and Services Bill Stackman.

"We were approached by a group of students last year that were looking for additional space to display their work. We decided to use the first floor of Wilder because it was a common space that everyone comes through," Assistant Director of the Student Union Chris Baymiller said.

"We are also in the process of acquiring art that will remain in the permanent collection. The art will also be student produced and will be displayed in common areas such as the lounges," Baymiller said.

The project was spearheaded by Stackman and Baymiller, along with members of the Student Art Committee.

"This is the first time that students can not only display their work outside of the art building but it also gives students a chance to sell their work to other students, professors and people in the community," senior Stephen Baer, a member of the Committee, said.

"It's important that people all over campus know what art students are doing. Most students never get to venture over to the art museum, especially Fisher Hall where the student art is displayed," senior Rebecca Ratzkin, also a Committee member, said. "It's important that students know how other students are expressing themselves, whether it be through writing in The Voice or in the Review, or dance or even in the Conservatory. Visual art is obviously an extremely important part of Oberlin's campus."

The Committee was responsible for all of the selection, rental, framing, matting and hanging processes. Despite the fact that there are not specific times set for its meetings, Committee members still managed to meet three to four times the week before Thanksgiving to prepare for the show. Art was collected on the Monday before Thanksgiving and selected the next day.

The deadline to submit artwork was extended in order to collect some of the artwork that was being displayed in some studio art shows.

Art was also collected via requests from the Art Majors Committee and announcements in Art department mailboxes, as well as by word of mouth.

"There has been a really good response from the students. The art selection is quality and it is all from Oberlin College students," junior Nicole Johnston, another member of the Student Art Committee, said.

Johnston said some Oberlin residents and high school students expressed interest in submitting artwork, so plans are being made to have future shows feature both community and high school artists.

"The program has gotten off to a really strong start and it makes a big difference in Wilder. It looks wonderful. I think of the program as something to support student artists," senior Amy Fry, who was instrumental in putting together the exhibition, said.

The art show will run through winter term, beginning with an opening reception tonight. Next semester the Student Art Committee will select new art to display.

Stackman spoke of other attractions being added to Wilder to draw students to it. He said a magazine rack with publications ranging from Newsweek to Ebony was also added to the Wilder mainspace to encourage students to hang out in the student union more.

"The art exhibition is only one of the many ways that the student union is attempting to meet the needs of students," Stackman said.

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Copyright © 1997, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 126, Number 11, December 5, 1997

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