John A. Day Gallery hosts closing reception for student-curated exhibition
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John A. Day Gallery hosts closing reception for student-curated exhibition

The USD John A. Day Gallery in the Warren M. Lee Center for Fine Arts building hosted the closing reception for its current exhibition, “Reframing the Collection: Emerging Curators at USD,” on Nov. 19.

Lauren Freese, assistant professor of art history at USD, teaches the course “Art Museums: History and Practice.” Freese said the main project students work on during this course is curating the exhibition

“(The course) is really an applied humanities course that lets students take their art historical research and put it on the walls for their colleagues using the university art collection as a space for really creative art history,” Freese said.

Amy Fill is the Gallery Director at USD. Fill said she expected works to curate galleries around campus, including the John A. Day Gallery. Fill helped the students in the course with technical aspects of curating exhibitions.

“I think student shows are always very popular because it involves the student body and folks here in the community. People know the artists that have participated, and we all know if there’s something that we are directly related to by the work we created or friends or class projects, more people are engaged,” Fill said.

Freese said the closing reception is an opportunity to share the work the class has been doing all semester.

“So one half of (the closing reception) is to celebrate their achievements, give them a chance to invite their parents, significant others, roommates and campus community, but I think it’s also really important that students have an opportunity to show their work off beyond the department,” Freese said. “There’s a ton of work involved in something like this, and it is big group projects that runs the whole length of the semester.”

The course itself helps students develop skills they can use in the art industry as more than just an artist, Fill said.

“It’s an important skill not only to learn more about how to communicate about your work and find your work in the continuum of the art history, it’s also important as an art-related job,” Fill said. “There are skills that help any art students for their resume, for their own research, for their own creative development and their own professional development.”

Freese said an event like the closing reception is valuable to students because it exposes the students’ curatorial skills to the rest of the university.

“I think it’s kind of scary to do something like this; to have an assignment that goes up on the wall. It’s like writing a research paper and it being emailed out to the whole university, which I think is both a challenge and an opportunity. They’ve been really excited all semester and committed to getting this done and to doing really excellent work,” Freese said.

Fill said the pieces students use to curate the gallery are from USD’s collection, and after the closing reception the pieces will be returned to the vault.

“They’ll take all of their works down, remove them from the frames, safely store (them) and return them to their specific locations in our vault space. They’ll go back into the collection,” Fill said. “(The pieces) will go back into storage for the next project, or if we need them for different shows we curate throughout the year.”