The accessible learning building on Dalhousie no longer feels like an old dungeon.
Works by local artist Elizabeth Gosse hang on the Yellow Brick Wall (YBW); colourful canvasses display the culture of several cities, adding an elegant touch to the building.
“I thought [it] was a good choice for our first exhibit,” said Dr. Kathryn Carter, inter-faculty associate dean: academic coordination and chair of the art advisory committee. “It was a community art project so I like the idea of us showcasing the different communities coming together to create art because we have a history of doing that on this campus.”
Carter believes that creating a space like the YBW reinforces an institution’s values.
“One of the values we want to have showcased on this campus is that we’re genuinely interested in all kinds of expressive art, visual art and the world of creativity as much as the world of [academia].”
Kathleen Thomas-Martin, a fourth year English major and artist said, “I think the basic idea of the Yellow Brick Wall is good. I think that trying to bring culture to campus is a good idea.”
“We’re an arts campus and we don’t have anything in the traditional arts disciplines going on here,” said Thomas-Martin. “For a liberal arts campus, we’re sort of lacking in the arts. So the Yellow Brick Wall idea is great, especially if it had set out to fulfill its mission statement and actually included student artists and artists from the community it would’ve been a wonderful thing.”
Thomas-Martin said she was interested in submitting her artwork for consideration, but decided against it due to the language used in the application.
“It’s an incredibly discouraging process,” said Thomas-Martin. “If it’s supposed to be about the students and our community, then I don’t think it should be restricted to just professional artists.”
Carter said they are staying consistent with the requirements used at the Robert Langen Art Gallery at the Waterloo campus.
“At this point, it is geared toward a more professional artist and that’s keeping in line with the art gallery space we have at the Waterloo campus … a venue for exhibiting professional art and that’s what we’re doing with the Yellow Brick Wall,” said Carter.
Carter also said, “We had a very clear sense that we were looking for a certain quality of work, and I guess that’s what I mean by professional. We don’t want to pretend we’re offering a space where everybody’s got a shot at putting up whatever.”
The application process is a formality to narrow down the artwork that will be displayed because there is not enough space and time to put everything up.
One of the concerns that Thomas-Martin expressed with regards to the application process is the resume. Emerging artists could feel discouraged by this.
Carter explained the resume does not have a determining factor over what quality of work is right for the wall. The YBW is curated by a group of people, including Carter and the gallery director from the Waterloo campus.
However, Carter said that she is hoping to have some space created for student art similar to what has been done at McMaster University, where the university president donated a wall to display student artwork.
“We could do something similar here. There’s nothing to stop us from creating more art spaces on campus,” said Carter. “It would be great to have a senior executive here say, ‘I want student art showcased in this place.’”
“There’s a huge artsy community here,” said Thomas-Martin. “It just wanders around invisible because there is no art club, there’s no art classes. So if they were able to tap that resource and get it up on the Yellow Brick Wall, we would have a bunch of local celebrities, right here on campus, and it would be wonderful.”
Carter said that art submissions are being considered “on their educational and creative merit, conceptually and visually and the ability of the artwork to engage the public imagination.”
Carter encourages all artists to submit work they are proud of.
“I hope that we get more art spaces and that we have students who submit their work for consideration for the Yellow Brick Wall.”
Elizabeth Gosse’s “It’s Your City” will be displayed until March 15, 2014. The next exhibit will be up from April 1-30, 2014. It is by Bharati Sethi, using a process called Photovoice, where she gives cameras to women who have immigrated to Canada and asks them to make a visual image of a theme.