Students working in Crossley Gallery.
Student and professor discussing work in Crossley Gallery.
Various exhibitions through the years at Crossley Gallery.

The Project:

Ringling College of Art and Design loves to give students hands-on projects to gain real-world experience. Every year, two Fine Arts students are chosen as Gallery Directors to curate shows in Crossley Gallery, allowing fellow students to showcase their own works. The students can submit any number of pieces as long as they fit the theme. In 2018-19, seniors Savannah Magnolia and Meagan Hindel chose the theme Macabre. As a number of the participants discovered, curating a gallery exhibition is a complex process where a multitude of works come together to create and hang an engaging show. Many who submitted their work in the Macabre show did so knowing what an invaluable experience the College was offering and would undoubtedly use it to bolster their résumés.

Fine art piece by Jordan Holm (Wood, Party Snaps, Chalk)
Fine art piece by Jordan Holm (Wood, Party Snaps, Chalk)

The Process:

Challenges always crop up when putting together a professional-level gallery exhibition, and Macabre was no exception. Even seasoned professionals of the fine arts world still find certain aspects difficult to conquer. Joe Fig, Head of the Fine Arts Department, explained, “There will always be an artist who wants a few more days to finish a piece or is making last-minute changes and fighting a deadline. The key is communication.” Communication is integral between the artists, directors, and in this case, the faculty. 

To those who participated, they know the power of a deadline. It looms over them constantly as the driving force of the process. And before that ever-so-close deadline, students had to submit at least one piece to put in the show while exhibiting professionalism, dedication, and hard work. As for the student directors, they were given many tasks. One was to collect and look after the pieces from each student. But their biggest job was to curate them in an aesthetically pleasing manner in the professional, 1,200-square-foot gallery that equals a real-world gallery in any metropolitan art scene. They also acted as the go-between for the students and faculty to ensure everything went smoothly. For the faculty involved, they gave the students the tools and knowledge to put a show together, but mostly gave the students the ability to take full control. How’s that for experience?

The Results:

The most unique part of the process is what each individual artist took away from the exhibition. For some, like Fig, the outcome reveals a beautiful sense of community and professionalism. For students like Fine Arts senior Kiara Rodriguez, who hung her piece inspired by the series of killings committed by H.H. Holmes, it was a thrilling experience. “Having people view and critique my work without knowing who I am was exhilarating,” she said. “It made me so giddy, I couldn’t wait to be involved in more experiences like that. I think every artist should participate in a gallery showing at least once.” The Crossley’s purpose highlights Ringling College’s dedication to furthering each student’s level of professionalism and experience. No matter your department, stop by Crossley Gallery.

Better yet, submit!

By Minna Gannon
Minna Gannon is a third-year Creative Writing student at Ringling College.