For the first time ever, faculty's work has been shown in an exhibit at the West Virginia University School of Art and Design.
The Mesaros Galleries' new exhibit, “Faculty Collects,” opened to the public on Oct. 8, and it features a variety of works from the personal collections of the School of Art and Design faculty.
“[The faculty] have been pretty enthusiastic about it,” said Shalya Marsh, Mesaros Galleries manager. “One of the things that has come out of having to pivot so quickly during COVID is that everybody is really pitching in where they need to.”
In-person tours are available from Oct. 8 to Nov. 13 through appointment-based scheduling on the School of Art and Design’s website. To ensure the safety of visitors, only five people are permitted in the Mesaros Galleries at a time.
As a gallery manager, Marsh said that the greatest challenge she has faced during the pandemic is finding a routine while rescheduling a variety of events.
The gallery would typically host between four to six exhibits every semester, predominantly featuring outside artists.
According to Marsh, the Visiting Artists Lecture Series committee at the School of Art and Design, which she is an active member of, had planned an entire fall schedule for the galleries, but due to the pandemic, they decided to push back incoming artists to the fall semester of next year.
“That left room open in our schedule because our mission is really to serve our students,” Marsh said. “We wanted to still provide them with content and still make the galleries accessible.”
While hosting an exhibit featuring the collections of faculty members is unprecedented at the Mesaros Galleries, it’s an idea that Marsh has considered for several years.
“We have the room in the schedule, and this is drawing from our strengths and from what we have here right now,” Marsh said in reference to her conversation with the committee.
After contacting the faculty at the School of Art and Design, Marsh received remote submission forms from professors interested in the exhibition.
Michael Loop, museum preparator and adjunct lecturer at WVU, submitted an installation piece from his collection by Shepard Fairey, a contemporary street artist from Charleston, South Carolina.
“It was the first expression in which I felt like I belonged,” writes Loop in his collector’s statement. “I credit a lot of my drawing skills to that era [the ‘80s], which has led to a career in the arts which include custom decks I make for collectors.”
Each work of art in the gallery has a unique story or connection to the faculty’s lives and personal experiences, according to Marsh.
“Our hope is that it will bring to the viewer a sense of the diverse aesthetics that all of the faculty have,” Marsh said.
According to Marsh, students have the option to view the gallery virtually from Oct. 12 to 23 on the School of Art and Design social media pages.
Exhibits in the Mesaros Galleries are made possible in part by an endowment offered by the Myers Foundation. The funds support programs at the University, such as the Mesaros Galleries, in order to directly benefit students, according to Marsh.
Marsh said she and the Visiting Artists Lecture Series committee plan to resume what would have been a normal schedule for the remainder of the semester.
The next exhibition, the “Annual Juried Student Exhibition,” at the Laura and Paul Mesaros Galleries is scheduled for Jan. 15.
“The Juried Student Exhibition is really kind of a wonderful thing because it just showcases the best work by School of Art and Design students,” Marsh said.
She and the committee are currently taking submissions from students for the juried exhibition. Marsh noted that she has made provisions for students to ship their work to the gallery if the University goes fully remote again this semester.
“Our mission is to bring content to the galleries that will serve our students,” Marsh said. “So, we’re really looking to program an exhibition schedule that has a variety of media and suits the needs of our students.”