The Art Club at Baruch is approaching its most ambitious project to date: a wide-ranging exhibit of artwork created by Baruch College’s student body. Working closely with art history professor Karen Shelby, e-board President Goldie Gross hopes to install a culturally cohesive oeuvre in one of Baruch’s classrooms, and publicly open the exhibit on March 13, preceding Dean Aldemaro Romero Jr.’s “ART-A-THON” in April.
The Art Club was officially chartered last year on May 17 by Baruch College’s Undergraduate Student Government and has hosted events in the past. One of these events was a hands-on amulet making class hosted by visiting Dutch artist Yona Verwer, which had an impressive turnout of over 40 students. This art exhibit will be the club’s first major event of 2018.
The gallery will consist of 12 prints, each with descriptions from the artist. The works will be a variety of photography, paintings and colored drawings. Gross says the exhibit will “bring art by the students for the students to our school, making fine art more accessible and personal within the school setting.” Gross also hopes the opening will attract students of various backgrounds and
Due to the logistics of framing and installing artwork, these pieces cannot be permanent fixtures in the classroom, but they will be proudly displayed for the next two months. Despite the hurdles, Gross is sure the exhibit will promote more awareness of the visual arts and encourage students to foster their artistic talents.
Gross is currently a sophomore, with an ad hoc major – a combination of business and art. She was also a curator for the Jewish Art Salon. She has been painting since 2012 using a variety of mediums, including oil and acrylic. It is her goal for the exhibit to further instill a sense of Baruch’s own “unity in diversity,” which is the theme for the 2020 Olympics.
Gross is confident that “we can develop the practical skills we need here and supplement them out of the school, by nurturing our artistic skills,” believing there should be no need for any reconciliation by the “practicing artist or future art professional in a business school.”
Both The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report have recognized Baruch as the most ethnically diverse campus in the nation, with over 160 countries being represented by its students. Baruch is not solely a business-oriented university. As the upcoming ART-A-THON, and various Baruch magazines such as Encounters and Refract are testaments to, there are already a plethora of creative outlets for students to explore. There are still spaces for artists in prestigious business schools such as Baruch, which has curated a substantial amount of artwork for the Newman Vertical Campus and the William and Anita Newman Library.
Shelby, who helped make this art exhibit a reality, stressed the misconception that the college only caters to those who are business-inclined. “The Weissman School of Arts and Sciences has risen considerably,” said Shelby, and although Baruch does not have a traditional arts program for painting or sculpting, visual arts classes such as graphic design and photography, headed by Terry Berkowitz and Leonard Sussman respectively, have become staples of Baruch’s
Not to mention performing arts have also enjoyed a fresh boost in popularity with department-run productions such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Christopher Scott, drawing in large crowds and appealing to more contemporary themes.
The opportunities are here and if students cannot find what they are looking for, then they have the ability to form their own clubs and like-minded groups.
Shelby is also a member of the Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge, an organization that is working to bring more attention to the artwork already in Baruch, and to engage student’s understanding of why these pieces were curated by the college. SEEK hopes to remove the corporate art label that has been the descriptor for many of the installations. It wants to reestablish the works as central to Baruch’s themes of cultural diversity and expression.
Outside the classroom, however, the artwork lining the halls of Baruch feels disconnected from the students. Secretary of the Art Club at Baruch, Allison Seamen, a freshman who attended Fiorello H. Laguardia High School Of Music & Art and Performing Arts, believes the works have too much corporate feel that does not inform the viewer of their relations to the college. Outside of the installations by the elevator on the 14th floor, very few of these pieces have descriptions or explanatory text. Shelby believes the lack of context diminishes the diverse array of artwork the college has selected, because it is harder for students to identify with the otherwise anonymous works.
The Art Club’s exhibit is a welcome contrast to this detachment between artwork and students; with all submissions coming directly from Baruch students, there is no doubt that a more personal connection will be gleaned from the gallery. This may be the precursor to further art installations at the college. A second gallery is already in the works, with an eye toward the end of the semester, but it is of course contingent on the reception of the first exhibit’s opening this coming March.