The former glass-walled map store on Mt. Auburn Street will get a brand new look on April 26. In its place will soon boom to life the scintillating 4th Annual Harvard Student Art Show with over 30 artists and more than 50 artworks in the space at 92 Mt. Auburn Street. Undoubtedly one of the most widely publicized art events of the year, the show has aimed to providing artists at Harvard with a platform from which they can not only exhibit their works outside the academic spaces in the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, but also sell them..
Lauren J. Ianni ’12, co-director of the show along with Anna H. B. Ondaatje ’13, says enthusiastically that the new space is a tremendous improvement to the event. “We did not want to have visual arts encased within a theater space, where we would have to compromise the layout and design of the show. Last year, there were stage shows going on concurrently, so it was kind of a hassle to work around,” she says, referencing last year’s exhibition at Farkas Hall. “The new space signifies a separate and own space for the visual artist. We wanted that to stand out,” says Ianni.
There are, of course, other perks to the 92 Mt. Auburn Street venue other than independence from the constraints of the theatrical and choral productions that dominate Arts First. “We picked this space in particular,” Ianni says, “because it’s on the corner of Mt. Auburn and JFK, which is a clear threshold between the public and private spaces of Cambridge and the University.” The gallery’s three glass walls will amplify this visibility. Ianni says that this architectural aspect of the building is basically free marketing. Snoweria Zhang ’12, a liason between the artists and the show’s board members, will also be featured at the show. She is thrilled by the fact that the show finally acquired a professional gallery space. “No more buying cheap partitions and hanging things,” Zhang says.
Unfortunately, there is a downside to the venue, as well: it’s much smaller than the previous spaces. Board members say that they had to limit submissions to two pieces per artist to ensure equal representation. Nevertheless, this change seems to have brought about a more rigorous selection process for the works to be exhibited. “The quality is just as good [as those of previous shows]––if not better,” says Zhang. Ianni is also proud of the diversity of the artists they will be presenting this year. “We brought in an artist-liaison, who is a student at the medical school and a tutor at one of the Quad Houses, so we made a point of soliciting submissions from all grad schools. This year we have increased the number of pieces from graduate schools.”
The students involved do not hesitate to extend lasting improvements to the infrastructure of the event beyond the exhibition space. One such improvement is the creation of a website. “The Art Show is an event-space platform for Harvard artists,” says Ianni. “The website ensures that the event lives outside the time of the event itself, which is both before and after the show.” In addition to this comes PayPal’s corporate sponsorship, which will help the organization with their goal of remaining financially stable over time.
The hugely revamped Harvard Student Art Show will provide a markedly different experience for previous attendees. Its new, professional space will amplify the already outstanding work of the artists involved.