When Ally Merkel ’20 received an email on Aug. 25 notifying her that she had been selected as the first random winner of the Fall 2017 Art Loan Program, she was more than a little taken aback. “I was very excited to be the first person drawn,” she said. “My roommate entered me into the lottery, so I was very surprised when I received the email and found my name was number one.”
Coincidentally, Merkel’s roommate, Alli Beard ’20, also won the chance to pick out pieces for their Hanna Residence Hall triple, which is now filled with art provided by the Gund Gallery.
Both Merkel and Beard entered the drawing as first-year students, but were not chosen and are now very happy to be displaying two paintings in their sophomore dorm. Merkel and her roommates agreed to pick her piece of art together, as Merkel had not yet seen the available options.
“I wanted either the biggest painting, or the picture of the cow … but my roommates and I agreed on a beautiful floral piece,” Merkel said. The piece they chose was Jane Chermayeff’s “Still Life with Flowers.”
Merkel and Beard were just two of 57 students invited to Gund Gallery on Sunday for the chance to pick a piece of gallery art for their dorm rooms. Such an opportunity is rare for most college students, as, according to the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries, only 257 colleges in the U.S. have on-campus galleries. Of those listed, only eight galleries are located at Ohio colleges. Kenyon and Oberlin have the only active art loan or rental programs of member colleges in Ohio.
Student winners must pay a fee of $10 per work, which funds future collection acquisitions, according to Gund Gallery.
A further fee is incurred if works are damaged; however, according to Robin Goodman, director of the Art Loan Program, such a fee has never been charged and most works are returned in perfect condition.
Goodman believes that having Gund Gallery associates install and uninstall the works diminishes the risk of damage.
Gund Gallery associate Vahni Kurra ’20 reflected on the installation process. “Art Loan is an incredibly busy time at the gallery … so I’m pretty tired of going up and down stairs with giant art pieces by the end of the day,” she said. “But it’s really fun to see people get super excited about the art they’ve selected.”