COVID-19 cancels in-person exhibition, but art and art history department strives to showcase student art
As global pandemics and public art exhibitions are not terribly compatible, last week, the Department of Art and Art History Department at the University of Colorado Boulder launched its annual King Exhibition online instead of in a gallery.
The digital exhibit, which is the department’s yearly opportunity to celebrate student work, features artwork made by more than 60 undergraduate and graduate students.
Curated by art and art history graduate students and juried by invited art professionals, scholarships are awarded based on quality of work to three undergraduate and three graduate students. The event is funded by CU Boulder alumni Kevin King and Meridee Moore.
Jeanne Quinn, professor of ceramics and chair of the department, said the King Exhibition is typically a peak point of the year.
“It’s a chance to celebrate all of the fantastic student work that is being done, and fill our building with great art in all media,” Quinn said, adding that the department holds the event during the Conference on World Affairs to encourage visitors on campus for the conference to take in art as well.
The King family has supported the event and its scholarships for almost a decade.
“They are passionate about art and supporting young artists, and their energy and enthusiasm are contagious to us all,” Quinn said, adding:
We are all so disappointed not to be able to meet in person for this celebration, but our student curators and staff, primarily Kirsten Stoltz (coordinator of the Visiting Artist and Scholar Program), worked incredibly hard to get all of the work online in a way that made it a pleasure to view.”
Avery Glassman, a CU Boulder student pursuing both a master’s degree in art history and a Master’s of Business Administration, is one of the student curators. She said she is eager to provide artists with as many high-quality exhibition opportunities as before the COVID-19 outbreak.
Glassman said there are pros and cons to an online exhibition: “Nothing compares to exhibiting in a physical space where viewers can have their own experience with the work. At the same time, hosting the exhibition online means the audience is potentially much wider than it would be otherwise.”
She noted that much of the work in this year's King Exhibition is intensely personal, whether exploring family separation and shared sentiment, the body's limitations or memories that are hard to ignore.
“With this in mind, perhaps viewing these works from our own intimate spaces is more appropriate than the public space of the gallery,” Glassman said. “When we absorb the images from the couch, bed or kitchen table, the work's private world enters ours, underscoring the connective possibilities that exist even in isolation.”
This year’s scholarship awards were announced last week, and the winners are as follows: Alejandra Abad, Laura Conway and Mikey Yates won graduate scholarships, and Grace Groves, Sara St. Clair and Aidan Welby won undergraduate scholarships.
The 2020 King Exhibition jurors included: Michael Chavez, public art program manager, City and County of Denver; Gabrielle Schuller, senior architect, City and County of Denver; and John Spiak, director or chief curator, California State University Fullerton’s Grand Central Art Center.
The graduate-student exhibition curators included Cali Banks, Glassman, Allison Lemon and Jerryan Ramos Hernandez.