Art opening in Hillel Gallery draws students, parents

Monday, October 17, 2005

Someone passing by the Glenn and Darcy Weiner Hillel Center on Saturday night might have been surprised to find loud music blasting past the pristine hedges, with clusters of students dancing in the lobby and wandering parents sipping wine.

The Fall 2005 Juried Student Art Show opened Oct. 15 at the Brown RISD Hillel Gallery at the Weiner Center. The opening, strategically scheduled during Parents Weekend, attracted a large crowd and included free wine and cheese with music provided by a student DJ.

The joint Brown-RISD exhibit includes an eclectic group of work from 18 student artists, the majority of whom are from RISD. The show features work in a variety of media, predominantly photography, as well as painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, furniture-making, printmaking and bronze. There is also a colorful, handcrafted mixed-media book by RISD student Caryn Blum that is covered in drawings, masking tape and bits of paper.

The show, co-sponsored by the Brown Creative Arts Council, was juried by two curators from the David Winton Bell Gallery and the RISD Museum. Laini Nemett ’06, chair of the Hillel Gallery Project committee, credited the curators with assembling the best juried show so far.She said she was pleased with the turnout, noting that large numbers of RISD students came while Brown students trickled in throughout the evening, often with parents in tow.

The activities of the gallery are organized by a committee, made up of students from both Brown and RISD, that decides which shows will go up and organizes the openings. The exhibits the gallery chooses to host include a diverse variety of work, sometimes edgy and strange, but always interesting, said Megan Nesbitt, associate director of Hillel.

The gallery is open to anyone who wants to participate and is trying to “break all barriers,” Nemett said, adding that it is a great place for student artists to get exposure.

One such aspirant was Cutter Wood ’07, whose bronze chess set was one of the focal points of the exhibit. As an English concentrator, Wood’s interest in the visual arts has been limited to bronze working, in which he has been involved for about a year through the foundry at Wellesley College, he said.

The chess set was an ongoing project throughout the previous spring semester – Wood made figures out of wax, cast the molds for the bronze and then poured the pieces, which had to be sanded down, he said. This is the first time that Wood has participated in a Hillel show, but he said he would probably submit more work for future shows.

Nemett said she enjoyed the show, although she was disappointed that there was less Brown student work than in past semesters, owing to a drop in submissions. She said she appreciated the variety of media and the breadth of work on display.

Nemett refused to single out a favorite work, but observed that it was interesting how people reacted strongly to different pieces.

The gallery space was included in the new Weiner Center as a means of bringing people from Brown, RISD and the local community to Hillel, Nemett said. Including this arts and culture element will invite people to come and see other events at Hillel, she said.

Nemett noted that the gallery openings are like huge parties, and are usually packed for the duration of the evening. “People come in and constantly tell me, ‘God, I’ve never been to Hillel before. This place is beautiful. I’m going to come here more and use the computers. I’m going to sit outside on the little patio,'” Nemett said.

“People will come for the opening and then realize there is all this great stuff and it’s not just a big Jewish building. It’s really important to the gallery that it is not a denominational space,” she said.

The exhibit will be open until Nov. 27. The gallery is open to the public Monday 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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