The student art gallery on the Pomona College campus, located in the Smith Campus Center (SCC), SCC 235, is unknown to many at the 5Cs. After working there last year, Amy Ragsdale PO ’15 noticed that the space was hardly used outside of hosting required shows for studio art majors. She thought that needed to change and decided to coordinate a series of student art shows to increase awareness of the gallery.
Ragsdale called the gallery “an undiscovered gem.” After moving the gallery location from a previous area next to the Coop Store, Ragsdale feels the new space is bigger than the previous one and can accommodate works from up to 10 artists at a time, depending on how many pieces each artist contributes.
Over the course of the semester, Ragsdale hopes to hold around four shows. The first is scheduled to open Feb. 21 and will feature sophomore, junior, and senior artists from Pomona, although the shows are open to student artists from any of the 5Cs. The shows will also be mixed-media, with artists contributing both 2-D and 3-D works.
Ragsdale was impressed by the amount of support available on campus for the visual arts through programs like the Elemental Arts Initiative, but she was disappointed by the lack of interaction between student artists and their peers. She cited events like the Bottom Line Theatre productions and the “In the Works” shows by student dancers as examples of what she is looking to achieve in the SCC gallery space.
In the gallery, Ragsdale is hoping to create a “venue for people who do visual art to inspire their peers,” she said.
In the past, student exhibitions on campus have been more or less limited to shows by studio art majors, despite the fact that there are artists among many other majors around the colleges. Currently, there are no regular events that promote interaction between artists across the colleges, so events in the SCC gallery could lead to an increase in artistic collaboration across Claremont as well.
The events will be semi-regular, each following the same schedule of openings on Wednesday or Thursday nights with gallery hours through Sunday of the same week. With this schedule, Ragsdale hopes to give Claremont students more familiarity with one of the lesser-known student spaces on campus and also create more engagement between the artists on campus.
Because the shows will each feature multiple artists, the exhibits provide a valuable opportunity for students to become comfortable with showcasing their work without the stress of a one-person show. Artists are not expected to contribute any specific number of pieces, so it can be a much more manageable way to exhibit, especially for non-studio art majors.
Ragsdale said she wants the shows to address the way people “deal with this reality,” and, more specifically, how they express that sentiment artistically.
Although each show will have a particular theme, Ragsdale said she doesn’t want students to feel pressured to create new art in order to join the shows, so the themes will be relatively general and influenced by the artists and works involved. Her hope is that the space will fill what she saw as a void on campus by becoming a collaborative and inspiring space for students across the 5Cs. Students interested in contributing, as artists or in other capacities, can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.