Student Art Space to show new colors at opening event

New Student Art Space curators Cameron Robinson (left) and Egbert Vongamalaithong (right) in the Student Art Space, watching paint dry. Photo by Mel Kobran.

Nick Bonadies
Spectrum Editor

New Student Art Space curators Cameron Robinson (left) and Egbert Vongamalaithong (right) in the Student Art Space, watching paint dry. Photo by Mel Kobran.

Senior sculpture majors Cameron Robinson and Egbert Vongmalaithong spent their Friday night, in part, embellishing the Student Art Space in the Commons with a square of vivid chartreuse.

“A white box is really generic to people,” Robinson said. “I’m a little bit tired of it, personally.”

Robinson and Vongmalaithong, along with sophomore communication arts major Philip Wisenhunt, are stepping up this year as curators of the Student Art Space in the Commons. VCUarts faculty select a different set of student directors each year.

The changes the new curators have in store don’t stop at a big green square: Having “rebranded” the space as “Soapbox Project: Art at the Commons,” Robinson and Vongmalaithong said they hoped to expand the project to include installations and exhibits in the Cary Street Gym and the Siegel Center.

“People might be a little apprehensive to think of the gym as an art space,” Vongmalaithong said, noting places like the Siegel Center as “high-traffic” areas where art could be seen and appreciated by a wider audience. “but … it’s an interesting place to show your work – there’s so much potential in the space.”

As for the Commons exhibit space, the Soapbox Project will make its debut this Friday, Sept. 30, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in a collaborative visitor-participation piece where, according to Robinson, “other people’s work is what makes the show.”

Alongside previously-rendered examples from the students in Johnson Hall’s art colony, visitors will receive a 11×17 sheet of paper, markers and other basic materials and be allowed to draw whatever they want. Each visitor’s artwork will become a cell in an ever-expanding tapestry of student-made art.

“It’s about actively changing what is up on the wall, which is so foreign to people (in an art gallery),” Robinson said.

Vongmalaithong said that this initial project on Friday exemplifies the kind of changes he, Robinson, and Wisenhunt hope to see through as curators.

“We want to gather more ambitious and challenging works,” he said. “We can get some higher-reaching projects.”

Robinson said she also wished to see a more inclusive “positive vibe” in the Student Art Space, creating an atmosphere where all students – not just students from within VCUarts – would feel comfortable viewing and participating.

“We have this great art school here, but the rest of the school never really sees it,” she said. “We’re putting our art school in the school more, injecting it.”

 

For information about contributing time or artwork to the Soapbox Project at the Student Art Space, visit facebook.com/soapboxprojects.

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