Section: Opinion

There’s room for both student and professional work

I love the Gund Gallery and its role on campus. I am a Gund Gallery associate and an art history major, so I feel I’ve seen the most recent controversy from both sides. After reading the article (“Gund Gallery plots future for senior shows”) in last week’s Collegian, I felt the gallery was portrayed unfairly, and I want to try to set the record straight.     The majority opinion on campus believes the gallery wants to completely eliminate the annual senior exhibition. That’s not true. This has never been true. The gallery wants to move the senior exhibition into two parts. The first portion will be a series of solo or two-person shows in smaller galleries. The second will be the senior show as we know it, pushed to later in the semester, from the middle of April until the end of commencement. There are a few reasons for these proposed changes: they want to open the gallery for academic programming while serving the art department’s curriculum; parents wouldn’t have to choose between senior exhibitions and commencement; and it would give senior art majors more time on display.

The Gund Gallery is an academic museum. Exhibitions are designed to be accessible to as many disciplines as possible. Most educational programming happens in the middle of the semester, and the current senior exhibition schedule overlaps significantly with this time. Moving the show later would allow the gallery to keep exhibitions (such as the Resistance and Revolution show from earlier this semester) at Kenyon longer. These exhibitions are designed to be interdisciplinary. Faculty have previously complained about exhibitions either leaving too quickly or coming too late in the semester for them to be integrated into syllabi. The gallery is not solely for art and art history majors to study formal qualities and content. Rather, the gallery wants its programming to benefit the entire campus.

There have been concerns in the past from families of studio art majors who want to see their students’ art in a professional gallery for the first time as well as attend their college graduation, but may not have the financial means to travel to Kenyon twice in such a short timespan. It seems unfair to ask them to choose between the two.

Moving the senior exhibition to mid-April would give artists more time to perfect and refine their work. The small shows earlier in the semester would be the studio art students’ first presentation of their work to get feedback from faculty and students. By the end of April, they would have revised their pieces to make them the best they can be for the show in the gallery. The senior exhibition would take up the same space it does now: half the gallery space. Moving the show would give the artists three weeks from mid-April until the end of commencement to display their work, rather than the 10 days they receive now, plus 10 days from their smaller show. They would still show in a professional gallery and for a longer duration.

The drawback is that the seniors would show fewer works in the final exhibition because they’d get less space. The smaller shows would make up the difference, allowing seniors to install all their works. The gallery show would give them the professional experience of contributing to a group show. For some artists, less space in the gallery may be a limitation. For others, it may benefit what they’re producing.

I recognize the biases I possess due to my position as a Gund Gallery associate, but I sincerely believe in what I’ve said here. I love the senior art exhibition and I love the Gund Gallery. I also believe in making these things as good and successful as they deserve to be. There’s a lot to be said on this topic, and I would love to talk to anyone who wants to discuss it further, openly and civilly.

Jenna Wendler ’17 is an art history major from Villa Park, Calif.  Contact her at


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