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New student art gallery finds a home in former storage closet

The+New+Student+Art+Gallery%2C+just+opened%2C+and+Moorpark+College+art+majors%2C+Leslie+Stahle%2C+center%2C+and+Yenelli+Law%2C+right%2C+view+the+offerings.+Photo+credit%3A+Lisette+Davies+Ward
The New Student Art Gallery, just opened, and Moorpark College art majors, Leslie Stahle, center, and Yenelli Law, right, view the offerings. Photo credit: Lisette Davies Ward

The New Student Art Gallery, just opened, and Moorpark College art majors, Leslie Stahle, center, and Yenelli Law, right, view the offerings. Photo credit: Lisette Davies Ward

The New Student Art Gallery, just opened, and Moorpark College art majors, Leslie Stahle, center, and Yenelli Law, right, view the offerings. Photo credit: Lisette Davies Ward

Lisette Davies Ward

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Many years ago, professors in the art department recognized a need for a stand-alone gallery space where their students could exhibit their artwork.

“For years we worked around the problem by using unoccupied faculty offices as temporary student galleries,” said art professor Gerry Zucca.

“We’ve been fighting for this [space] for our students since I’ve been here,” said professor of studio art Cynthia Minet in her 16th year at Moorpark College.

After years of searching in vain, three art professors reinspected a faculty office that they were using as a storage closet for art supplies and equipment. Professor of Art and Director of the Moorpark College Art Gallery Erika Lizée was looking for a way to provide students with a gallery.

“Erika came up with the idea of transforming [it] into a student gallery. It was a desperate student need that got us to think differently and make it happen,” said Zucca.

Dean of Student Learning Dr. Jennifer Kalfsbeek-Goetz approved the project in Jan. 2017. Soon after, room 141 in the Applied Arts building began a major transformation.

“Art faculty came to me with a great idea. There was no place to show our own student artwork, only the main art gallery in the administration building, which is usually saved for professional artists,” said Kalfsbeek-Goetz. “They found a room with a great view of the mountains and the Ronald Reagan Library.

“It’s next to impossible to build a space, something that takes millions of dollars and years,” said Kalfsbeek-Goetz “We don’t have enough space on campus for our classes, so they needed to be resourceful with existing space, and it was a phenomenal idea to turn their storage closet into this new space”.

However, this transformation project did not come without its problems.

“Gerry Zucca has a great eye for spatial organization. He was able visualize where to relocate the materials and cabinets that were in that space to free up the room to use as a student gallery,” said Minet. “Without his commitment to our shared art department goals, the student gallery would never have happened.”

“We started hauling … it was a long process,” said Lizée. “Then we patched up and painted the room, installed track lighting, and maintenance cleaned and re-polished the floor, she said.

“It was a team effort,” said Zucca.

The new Student Art Gallery’s grand opening, in conjunction with Moorpark College’s 50th Anniversary, features artwork from a variety of art classes, and runs until Oct. 17.

“The goal of this new gallery is to raise awareness of this space and its existence, and what it can do for students,” said Lizée.

“The new Student Art Gallery is something we (in the art department) dreamed of for a long time,” said Zucca. “The students really needed it.”

For the first time this fall, Art faculty and The Art Club have the opportunity to give their students and club members opportunities to exhibit their work in the gallery on a weekly rotation basis. The Art Club will have the next exhibit, followed by a life drawing and then a printmaking class exhibit.

“It’s fantastic that we have a space,” said Andrew Allen, 24, Art major. “It gives us something to strive for. These in the current show are from my classmates. Art represented here is not just from advanced classes; for example, this one is from Beginning Painting I. It isn’t some unreachable goal, it’s available for all of us who work hard and want it enough.”

“Anyone who’s dreamed of creating art should take classes in Moorpark’s wonderful art department,” said Leslie Stahle, 57, art and music major. “Come see the shows in our new space. They will inspire you.”

In fact, the new Student Art Gallery will help Moorpark College art students in a plethora of ways.

“Now we are working on giving students a feel for having shows like the solo professional shows at the main gallery,” said Dean Kalfsbeek-Goetz. “It gives our undergraduate students a really unique opportunity that is usually for graduate students. We’re excited to be able to give that opportunity to all fine art students.”

The more controversial work that our students produce, like nudes, can also be exhibited in this space, which provides an outlet for our students that they currently don’t have, and presents the opportunity to open up conversations about this and all other artwork with viewers to their gallery, said Minet.

“The Moorpark College Art Gallery is an open, walk-through space, and not really conducive to shows that include sculpture, video projection, and installation. We have sought an autonomous space for years,” said Minet. “The new Student Art Gallery is a fantastic step in the right direction! It will create all kinds of opportunities for the showcasing of student work.”

Future plans for the new Student Art Gallery have these goals in mind.

“Our hope in future is to do some construction, to make the windowed-wall open outside, and have receptions, as an extension of the gallery for sculptures,” said Dr. Kalfsbeek-Goetz. “This should (…) expand the gallery to an outdoor space for social gatherings, to continue conversations about the artwork that starts inside.”

“It’s an ongoing effort,” said Zucca.

For more information, contact professor Lizée at [email protected]

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1 Comment

One Response to “New student art gallery finds a home in former storage closet”

  1. Cynthia Minet on October 17th, 2017 3 p.10.

    Great coverage of our new Student Art Gallery! Thank you Lisette and Student Voice!

    [Reply]

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