BFA students show their artwork at Gallery 303

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Hannah Nielsen explaining her exhibit in Gallery 303 (Natalie Stoker)
Hannah Nielsen explains how her art in Gallery 303 incorporates obscure places around the world and fantasy. (Natalie Stoker)

Just across from the ticketing window at the Harris Fine Arts Center is Gallery 303. Campus visitors and students pass by this little gallery every day, but not many people know it’s there.

“It’s kind of like one of the unknown jewels on campus,” said HFAC gallery director Jason Lanegan.

Gallery 303 and other spaces around the HFAC were originally home to BYU’s permanent art collection. The collection was moved to the Museum of Art after it was built in 1993, and the spaces in the HFAC were given to the Department of Visual Arts so students could display their work.

More than 100 student exhibitions are displayed throughout the year, according to Lanegan. The exhibitions rotate on a two-week schedule.

During July, Gallery 303 hosted the exhibits “The Worlds They Live In” by Hannah Nielsen and “Only a Game” by Quintin McCann. Both were BFA final exhibitions required for graduation.

Nielsen, an illustration major with a concept design emphasis, created digital illustrations of obscure places around the world, mixed with a little fantasy. She researched these little-known places and incorporated the environment and the culture into her pieces. Even though Nielsen loved working on her project, she wasn’t excited to have her work on display.

Illustrations from Nielsen's exhibit in Gallery 303. (Natalie Stoker)
Illustrations from Nielsen’s exhibit in Gallery 303. (Natalie Stoker)

“I’m kind of resigned to it. I knew that it had to happen so I spent a couple of weeks being like, ‘OK, you just have to put it up and then take it down and then not think about it anymore,” Nielsen said.

Even though she didn’t enjoy the idea of people seeing her work, she found that she really enjoyed creating it.

“I hadn’t done that sort of really extensive research for a project before and I had kind of been dreading it, but then it turned out to be really fun and cool,” Nielsen said.

However, McCann, who’s studying studio arts with a sculpture emphasis, was excited to have his work on display in his second solo exhibition.

“It’s a little intimidating at first, but once I start setting up, I get really excited and I’m happy to share it with anyone who’s interested,” McCann said.

One of the works in McCann's exhibit. (Natalie Stoker)
One of the works in McCann’s exhibit. (Natalie Stoker)

McCann’s exhibit, was based on the game of chess and contained sculptures, photography and video pieces. His artist statement, which is a plaque that holds an explanation of his exhibit reads, “Life is one of the few things that can be described as both triumphant and tragic, enigmatic and simple, as a battle and as a game.”

McCann made the first piece in his exhibition a few years ago on accident. A chess piece appears to be standing on another chess piece that seems as if it’s melting.

Another piece in the exhibit was a 16-minute long video of him and his brother playing chess. Before McCann set up the board, he melted chocolate and then molded the chocolate into chess pieces. In the video, instead of just losing a piece and putting it to the side, the players eat their pieces.

Quintin McCann setting up his piece “The Grandmaster” in his exhibit in Gallery 303 (Natalie Stoker)

McCann’s favorite piece is a portrait sculpture of his grandfather called “The Grandmaster.” He spent about 40 hours on it, which paid off since he has been commissioned to sculpt a few other portrait sculptures.

“As soon as the show gets done, I’m going to get working on that,” McCann said.

Gallery 303 is located in room B315 of the HFAC. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m, Monday through Friday. Other student exhibitions are on display on the third, fourth and fifth floors. To see past works, visit the Department of Visual Arts website.

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