It’s no secret that Kenyon’s campus can fall prey to apathy. Voter turnout for student elections routinely disappoints, open forums are poorly attended and students lack the common courtesy necessary to return cups to Peirce Hall. Nonetheless, last week saw an immediate and forceful effort by students, faculty and staff to support senior studio art majors.
It was heartening to see a large cross-section of campus band together, and we hope that in the coming weeks the discussion surrounding the ongoing issue of the gallery’s relationship to the art department will be respectful rather than vitriolic. It seems the Gund Gallery did not sufficiently take the concerns of the art department into account and such disregard is concerning. In the future, we hope greater respect and communication will occur. However, we do not seek to villainize the gallery, as we believe that divisiveness is ultimately unproductive. We hope the common goal of furthering education can unite the gallery, the art department and the campus as a whole.
Furthermore, we laud President Sean Decatur for the swift and decisive action he took to clarify the status of the 2016 senior show, but we are concerned about the lingering ambiguity regarding shows for 2017 and beyond. It is true that in recent years the gallery has taken steps, including establishing its own endowment and board of trustees, to become “semi-independent.” Nonetheless, the gallery would be remiss to neglect the needs of students and faculty to pursue a pipe dream of international renown apart from Kenyon.
The gallery’s trustees would be well-served by visiting campus during the time of senior exhibitions. They would then see first-hand that these exhibitions compose by far the gallery’s most popular program. The gallery should strive to make students excited about visual art and the senior exhibtions do just that. The art produced at Kenyon is something to be proud of and thus must be prioritized. All future senior exhibitions should run in full in the most professional Kenyon space available, the Gund Gallery.