by Bailey Blaker
When I walked into the distribution ceremony for the Gund Gallery’s Art Loan Program on Tuesday morning, I thought the experience would be reminiscent of the countless Black Fridays I’ve spent avoiding getting crushed by hoards of shoppers. Except now those shoppers would be students and instead of rushing to get a great deal on the newest tablet, we would be fighting over to select pieces of art.
I’m glad to say that wasn’t the case and that the Gund Gallery’s program, which allows select students to rent out pieces from the gallery’s art loan collection for an entire semester, was more akin to waiting in line at a deli than any frantic late night shopping spree.
Thirty-eight lucky students, of the 108 who applied, were allotted selection slots based on the order in which their names were pulled from the ballot box, which was open for submissions as late as Sunday evening. Each student was given a chance to choose their artwork alone in the space at the back of the Buchwald-Wright Gallery, while the rest of the group hung back in another area of the gallery, waiting.
The collection available for loan currently numbers fewer than 50 pieces, including several pop-art-like screen prints by American artist Clarence Holbrook Carter.
All pieces are framed and encased in Plexiglas, but students are expected to pay repair costs in the event of any damages. Graham Gund ’63 H’81 and his wife, Ann, donated many pieces specifically for the program, as well as some more valuable pieces the gallery will not lend out.
Robin Goodman, collections manager and registrar of the Gund Gallery, worked alongside Christopher Yates, the gallery’s assistant director, to curate the collection up for loan.
“Some of the works were donated specifically with the idea of going into an art-loan program; some of the works were pieces that had been here on campus,” Goodman said. She expects the program to grow in future years with increased alumni donations.
Elizabeth Norman ’16 — third in line to select a piece of artwork at the reception on Tuesday — chose Carter’s piece Nude in Motion, a minimalist screen print of the female form. “For me, I just got to go in there and pick the one that I wanted,” she said. “I think for other people, they’re going to have to pick ones that aren’t their favorite. It’s still cool that everyone who got selected is walking away with a piece of art.”
Being number 27 out of 38 available slots in the selection process, my choices were limited. I had visited the collection earlier in the week, and I had a running list in my head of which pieces I might want to choose. As I looked at the Post-Its on the walls signaling the pieces already claimed, my list steadily grew shorter, and I finally settled on an untitled abstract piece.
The painting by Elizabeth Dworkin reminds me of something that could be found in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, but in a good way. It’s calming, with its subdued palette of grays, blues and reds. The collection of shapes arranged on its canvas is striking in its simplicity. Thanks to the fact sheet the gallery provided to accompany the piece, I now know Dworkin deliberately uses color to promote “apparent contradictions on the page that are suspended in time and space.”
Though we may not have Picassos or Lichtensteins hanging in our dormitories like students who partake in Oberlin College’s Art Rental Program through the Allen Memorial Art Museum, the Gund Gallery’s burgeoning art loan program affords students the opportunity to get up close and personal with fine art.