VCU’s senior photography class is doing more than just submitting photographs for their senior showcase — the 31 students have collaborated to do everything from raising thousands of dollars, to painting and spackling the venue to make their show a reality.
“Powerwash,” the 2014 BFA photography show, opens on May 2. The senior photography class collaborated for more than a year with little faculty involvement to create the showcase, and even raised $4,000 on their own to pay for advertising, the venue and any renovations to the space.
“Everybody is showcasing with their best foot forward and it’s not limited to photos on the walls,” said Emmett Methven, one of the featured artists. “People are experimenting with different types of media and there are people incorporating video work, sculptural pieces and (the combination of) different types of media into one piece.”
Methven said the class divided themselves into different groups that were responsible for an aspect of putting the show together. One of these jobs included finding a suitable venue for the show.
“People were basically just going up and down Broad Street looking for different places for rent or lease, but we had some trouble because our class is larger than the average graduating photo class,” Methven said. “Literally every day we’d call 10-15 spaces that we’d found.”
The space that “Powerwash” will be held at what was formerly known as 1708 Gallery, and Methven said it has an empty-storefront look. He said the students will move in this week and have three weeks for set up. The show itself is on display for a week, and will be taken down shortly after.
“Renovating our space has been the hardest part of the process since a lot can go wrong when working on an old building,” said featured artist Sarah Mattozzi. “Thankfully most things have been moving along smoothly.”
Since acquiring the space, the senior class has worked together to paint, spackle and make other modifications to the building that will display their work. Before renovations could take place however, the students had to come up with the money to pay for rent.
Starting in September, the senior class held two bake sales which raised about $1,000 alone. In March, they started a Gofundme, a fundraising website similar to Kickstarter.
“Our original goal was $3,000 but we met that in about a month,” Methven said. “In the last week we raised an additional $1,000. Most of that money is going toward renting the venue, and the remainder is going toward working on renovations on treating the place for the work.”
He said the space itself is two floors, including the basement of the building, and there are three distinctive areas, which is convenient for the 31 seniors who are making the space their own.
“This takes a lot of planning and execution,” said Noelani Martin, another contributor to the showcase. “It’s taken fundraising, good leadership and teamwork to keep everything going.”
Martin said she’s most excited for opening night to see everything come together.
“‘Powerwash’ is going to be a culmination of years of work that we’ve dedicated to our art practice,” Martin said. “Our class’ work is diverse and seeing everything together in one place is going to be both emotionally satisfying and visually stunning,” she said.
“Powerwash” will open at 103 E. Broad St. from 5-9:30 p.m on May 2. The event is free for the general public.