Art Gallery at Harris Fine Arts Center helping students promote their work

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    By BRINTON WILKINS

    Occupying the southeast corner of the main floor of the Harris Fine Arts Center is a room whose quiet is only disturbed by soft-recorded music and the whispered comments of visitors admiring the displayed art.

    Gallery 303 is dedicated to housing mainly student-produced visual art, said Todd Frye, gallery director for 13 different campus galleries, including Gallery 303.

    With the construction of the Museum of Art, Gallery 303, which is not connected to the MOA, became, as Frye called it, a “scholarship gallery.”

    The gallery services many student artists, he said.

    “There’s probably a minimum of 24 shows a semester,” he said.

    Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts students are required to display their work to receive their degrees and the gallery provides budding artists with that experience, Frye said.

    It also serves a much more practical purpose for the artists, he said.

    “You have to have a dealer who is interested in your work who will promote it,” he said. “Most artists are not marketers.”

    Gallery 303, which is a non-profit gallery, helps students promote their artwork by linking them with galleries that will sell their work, he said.

    But Gallery 303 displays more than just student work, Frye said. At the beginning of a semester an established artist is invited to display his or her work, he said.

    A Norman Rockwell exhibit valued at almost $2 million was displayed at the gallery, Frye said.

    The work of three master’s students is currently on display. These students said that the gallery will help them achieve their degrees.

    “Context is a very post-modern consideration,” said Joanne Smith. “How work is seen … or the setting of our work, adds to the meaning of the work.”

    Smith, a master’s student studying painting, is showing a series of still-life paintings focusing on the themes of family and order. Her display gives viewers the chance to see how she produces her artwork. What she calls “blueprints” for her paintings are displayed alongside the finished piece.

    “I put together compositions that were visually interesting to me,” she said.

    Paintings are not the only medium displayed in the gallery.

    Robert E. Reed Jr.’s display is a series of abstract ceramic bowls and sculptures.

    “Originally, all I wanted to do was copy rock formations,” Reed said.

    His style has changed but still is influenced by sandstone formations, he said. He tries to maintain an organic feeling in his work.

    Reed, who began working on his art after a 27-year career in the U.S. Air Force including two years in Vietnam, believes that the gallery exhibit provides invaluable experience.

    “I get some feedback on my work,” he said.

    Gallery 303 offers students such as Smith and Reed an opportunity to get their degrees as well as make the shift into the professional world, Frye said.

    “Hopefully it will be a good liaison,” he said. “Hopefully they’ve made the transition while in the program.”

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