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Concordia professor converts forgotten space into student gallery

Ceramic art to be displayed year-round in repurposed Visual Arts Building locker
August 4, 2014
By Marilla Steuter-Martin

Locker Gallery Concordia ceramics students have turned a broken locker into a dynamic gallery space. | Photo by Marilla Steuter-Martin.

Tucked away on the second floor of the Visual Arts (VA) Building sits an unexpected find: a broken-locker-turned-gallery space. This little gem fits in perfectly with the spirit of the Faculty of Fine Arts’ enthusiasm for creating art in spaces of all shapes and sizes.

“I think in contemporary art there’s quite a large movement in found spaces for showing work,” says Linda Swanson, an assistant professor of ceramics in Concordia’s Department of Studio Arts, who spearheaded the project. “I think the students really like the idea that space has another meaning and another function.”

That’s certainly the case with the locker gallery. The space, which opened in April, is about 45 centimetres wide and 75 centimetres tall and lit from above by a soft yellow battery-operated light. Before being converted into an installation space, for years the locker stood broken and without a door among the rows of the regularly used, robins-egg blue student lockers. Now, glass panelling serves as a barrier to protect the artwork on display from damage.

“We beautified it in a way, taking the broken locker that was actually collecting a lot of debris and junk and dirt and tried to make our space that we live in all the time, as students and faculty, more interesting,” says Swanson.

Linda Swanson, an assistant professor of ceramics, led the locker gallery project Linda Swanson, an assistant professor of ceramics, led the locker gallery project. | Photo by Marilla Steuter-Martin.

She explains that the project began not only as a way to help and encourage students to show their work, but as a response to their enthusiasm for the space. In her installation class, Swanson would ask students to set up temporary exhibitions around the VA Building, and over the years she noticed a pattern of young artists being drawn to this broken locker.

In addition, she feels the small size of the space is well suited to the ceramics display. “Ceramic often happens at a smaller scale, because first of all we’re working with the limits of a kiln, and second of all the clay shrinks, so things automatically get smaller,” she says.

The space will remain open for the rest of the summer, featuring a rotation of new student pieces. In the fall, the locker gallery’s operation will be taken over by the Ceramics Student Association.

Swanson says that on top of giving students exposure, the opportunity to run their own space will provide them with valuable hands-on learning opportunities.

“They get the experience of not only showing their work, but of curating it,” she says.

Visit the locker gallery on the second floor of the Visual Arts (VA) Building at 1395 René-Lévesque Blvd. W.


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