Campus art shows may be entertaining events, but for the students who contribute work to these programs, the exhibitions are opportunities to develop as professional artists.
During the 2018-19 art season, FGCU will feature two Senior Project shows for graduating students to display their work; a new show called “The Third Dimension: Exploring Space,” presenting combined works from two sculpture and ceramics courses; the university’s 21st annual Juried Art Show; and an Alumni Exhibition with selected works to be displayed off campus at FineMark National Bank & Trust.
Both student involvement in the logistics of these shows and the art program’s emphasis on professional skills are helping students develop into career-ready artists.
John Loscuito, FGCU Art Gallery director, says that between the ArtLab Gallery and the Wasmer Art Gallery, the campus displays 10 exhibits every year that include both student and professional work.
“The student artists have the opportunity to see their work in the same space as professional artists, so I think having that combination is really valuable for them”
“The student artists have the opportunity to see their work in the same space as professional artists, so I think having that combination is really valuable for them,” Loscuito says. “Both spaces are treated as professional spaces and spaces that feature student artwork, so they’re not relegated to, ‘Oh, that’s the student gallery over there, and here’s where we show the professional artists.’”
One upcoming show in particular will push students closer to the skillset of professional artists – “The Third Dimension: Exploring Space.” This exhibition, to be held in the ArtLab Gallery starting in mid-January, will exhibit work produced by students in two fall courses, one taught by Tricia Fay and the other by Mary Voytek.
“There was a time opening in the ArtLab, so John mentioned that he’s looking for ideas for the new season,” Voytek says. “We looked at the course offerings and we saw that Tricia and I each had high-level sculpture [classes], so we just put it together.”
Voytek says the students taking her Sculpture Workshop course will be responsible for coming up with their own conceptual ideas for a series of pieces to create during class. At the end of the semester, the students will select pieces from their series to feature in the 2019 show.
“I have no idea what kind of ideas they’re going to come to the beginning of class with,” says Voytek, who is challenging students to have a conceptual link in their series, but experiment with any medium they’d like to use, from metal and wood to jewelry.
Regardless of which medium or theme the students decide to work in, they will be taking on the full responsibility of exhibiting their work. Everything from creating the pedestals their pieces might stand on, to pricing the pieces, to marketing the event will be student-driven.
“There was a time opening in the ArtLab, so John mentioned that he’s looking for ideas for the new season”
“It gives them a step up on how to be a professional artist” Voytek says. “It’s a great foundation for what to do with their artwork once it’s finished, how to go about planning a series of works for a show, how to hang it, how to install it, how to market it, what to expect from different types of galleries, what to expect from museum shows or art center shows … It’s a wonderful hands-on experience.”
Korey Harrison, a senior from Orlando studying fine art, says his teaching assistantship in the ceramics studio is giving him even more of an inside look at what it takes to be a professional artist.
“I already know my way around a studio, and what it takes to run a studio,” says Harrison, who plans to pursue a career in sculpture.
He says that learning from professional artists such as Voytek in the classroom has given him insight into the field. “The assignments that the professors give you make you think and get you out of your comfort zone,” he says.
The campus galleries also have five student workers who gain an additional level of experience in managing shows.
“Those student workers are very involved,” Loscuito says. “They help with every aspect of running the gallery from setup, installation, marketing, hosting the event, lighting … the whole thing.”
Another aspect of professional life to which student-artists are exposed at FGCU is sales. Students can sell their work at all campus exhibitions, and Loscuito says he sees sales made at each event. While some shows will see one or two pieces sell, he says the Annual Juried Art Show, which features some 70 exhibits, typically sells 10 pieces or more. The most he has seen a student piece sell for is “at least in the high hundreds, $700, $800.” Often, student-artists and buyers exchange contact information at a gallery event on campus, which can lead to future sales.
But the work coming out of FGCU’s art program isn’t just resulting in sales. It’s getting community attention.
Loscuito says the program frequently receives requests from organizations to do commissions or participate in outside exhibitions, and that information is shared with students via a Canvas page, so that any who are interested can get involved.
In March 2019, selected artwork from FGCU alumni artists will hang in FineMark National Bank & Trust’s Estero location for an off-campus Alumni Exhibition.
Loscuito says FineMark staff will attend the December 2018 Senior Project shows to select pieces for the March showcase.
“They’ll look around at those students and they’ll decide on a number of students to invite to their space in March,” he says.
Loscuito estimates each of the upcoming shows will attract about 100 attendees, with about 150 for the Senior Project shows. Those shows tend to receive more attention because they feature more students and are held near the end of the semester, when family members of the student artists are likely to be in town for Commencement.
While many exhibition attendees are community members, Loscuito hopes to increase student attendance at gallery shows through social-media and word-of-mouth marketing on campus. He attends every gallery show, but says the Senior Projects one is his favorite.
“It’s always rewarding to see students that we have worked with over the years graduate,” Loscuito says. “It’s a time when their family members are there, there’s a lot of pride and congratulations, and that really is the culmination of all of their ideas and techniques and thoughts. It’s hard to beat that one.”
Showing homegrown talent
The upcoming season of exhibitions from the FGCU Art Program will feature work in a variety of mediums from artists across the nation. Here are a few student-focused programs to attend.
- Senior Projects: On display at the end of the fall and spring semesters. Installations are created by each graduating art student to showcase the techniques and conceptual skills they have refined in their studies.Opening Reception: 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4, and Thursday, April 18On display: 4-14 and April 18-May 3
Where: Wasmer and ArtLab Galleries
- “The Third Dimension: Exploring Space”: presents work from high-level ceramics and sculpture students. Students spend the fall semester developing work for this show, using a range of mediums and concepts.
Opening Reception: 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17
On display: Jan. 17-Feb. 7
Where: ArtLab Gallery
- 21stannual Student Juried Exhibition: Showcases submissions from any interested students, regardless of major. Jurors will include local artists, curators and professionals in the field.
Opening Reception: 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 21
On display: March 21-April 4
Where: Wasmer Art Gallery
- FGCU Art Alumni Exhibition: Features alumni pieces selected by the staff of FineMark National Bank & Trust’s Estero branch from the Fall 2018 Senior Projects show.
Opening Reception: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 27
On display: March 27-April 19
Where: FineMark National Bank & Trust – Estero