Artists further professional experience, display art

Fairbanks Gallery of Art, located on the corner of Jefferson Way and 26th Street. The gallery showcases work from students and professional artists alike.

Tristan Bailey, Practicum Contributor

Fairbanks Gallery of Art provides outlet for student, faculty exhibits.

One of the hidden gems of the Oregon State University campus is the Fairbanks Gallery of Art. Nestled on the corner of Jefferson Way and 26th Street, the gallery is home to the work of artists throughout the local community. Erected in 1892, Fairbanks Hall has been operating as an art gallery for many years and has exhibited the work of both students and professional artists.

According to Andrew Nigon, the Fairbanks Gallery of Art manager, the gallery showcases a variety of art created by students, as well as several pieces from professional contemporary artists. 

“Sprinkled in between those shows we invite artists that are local to the community or more broadly in the Pacific Northwest and beyond,” Nigon said. “There is a committee, made up of tenured art faculty, that decides which artists work best for the curriculum that we’re teaching in the art department, as well as taking in political considerations and a diverse pool of artists.” 

Artists are chosen based on the diversity of their work, according to Nigon. This means including art created in several mediums, such as sculpture and photography, among others. Above all, Nigon works to accurately represent the vision of each artists’ work within the gallery.

“I work to install the show and sometimes I work with the artist to design the show, (and I try) to create a space where every show that is installed feels different from all the other shows that have been seen before,” Nigon said.

Andy Myers, an artist and OSU drawing instructor, has had two exhibitions at Fairbanks. His first exhibit, titled “Be Useful,” occurred in 2008 as a new faculty member, and his most recent was in July 2017. 

“The first (exhibit) was a series of large-scale self-portraits that had birds sitting on top of them. So, they were drawings, but they became kind of cut outs. They were sculptural, they kind of sat off the wall,” Myers said. “The concept was birds using my head as something. So, in one, my head became a birdhouse, and one was where the bird was hunting for bugs.”

According to Myers, there is a close collaboration between featured artists and the gallery staff.

“Andrew Nigon, the gallery manager, is very accommodating. Anything that you want to do, we painted the whole gallery a different color just for my work. So that was really nice and really exciting to have him be so open to that amount of work,” Myers said. “I was really happy with the result.”

If asked, Myers would exhibit his art at the Fairbanks Gallery of Art again.

Suehade Soto, a junior studying applied visual arts, has also shown her work at the Fairbanks Gallery of Art. Soto has exhibited her art at the gallery twice, most recently in 2017.

“That piece I created an installation of various-sized stars. So I hung them up with a clear string, and I made a frame for them. I wanted to create a kind of bubble when you looked at it, this kind of awe-inspiring experience. It emanated the sky and the stars,” Soto said. “It kind of turned into this manifestation of myself. So in a way it is me, and it’s who I am, it’s whimsical and unassuming at first, but then when you continue to look at it, it’s kind of magical and unique.”

According to Soto, her goal is to create an escape for her viewers.

“All I want to do when I make art is, when people look at it, I want them to forget all those materialistic worries of loans and homework and finals week and family problems and instead be in the moment and enjoy what is happening right now,” Soto said. “It’s magical.” 

By showing her work at the Fairbanks Gallery of Art, Soto has been able to progress personally and professionally.

“I think it gave me a confidence boost, I definitely felt like I was a professional. One thing I needed as an artist was a boost, that nudge of knowing that you’re on the right path and you’re doing things right as an artist,” Soto said. “I think showing in Fairbanks did help my name out there, especially with other students and faculty that I haven’t taken classes with yet.”

The Fairbanks Gallery of Art is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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