Art for students by artsy students

Coffman exhibit gives students some space on a gallery wall

Don M. Burrows

Dozens of faces stare out from notebook paper and pizza boxes in a photocopy of one womanís consciousness.

This glimpse into Aberdeen Satherís psyche, via her hefty collage titled ìMy Mind, the Human Photocopy,” could have gone unseen.

But Sather, a co-chairwoman on the Minnesota Programs and Activities Councilís visual arts committee, and her colleagues have resolved to show more student artwork, including hers, in Coffman Union.

ìMany people on campus have a great body of work,” Sather said. ìThey just donít have anywhere to show it.”

To encourage submissions, several students involved with MPAC have added their own work to the galleryís Winter Mix-Up exhibit. There, student work isnít relegated to campus hallways.

Satherís fellow co-chairwoman, Emily Davis, believes in its purpose, in part, because she experienced the opposite. Davisí photography never had been shown before it was pinned on Coffmanís walls.

ìWhat the University should be about at any campus union is the students,” Davis said.

Tricia Schweitzer, galleries manager at the student activities office, said MPAC sent a call for student art through the art department. She, too, is an artist, and she and four collaborators created three oil paintings on display at the gallery.

In fact, the works on display in the Coffman Galleryís exhibit all are creations by students involved in MPAC. But Davis and Sather hope their participation encourages students to submit work to upcoming exhibits. Davis said she already has begun planning similar spring and fall events.

If the pieces on display in Coffman are any indication, the campus community has been afforded the chance to see fascinating artwork.

The story behind Satherís ìHuman Photocopy” is as interesting as the piece itself. She visited one-on-one with friends and family while drawing their caricatures on items she found around the house.

ìIt was a commentary on how many people I know and the ways we see people,” she said. ìIt was a way to describe the things in my life,” from objects to people.

The exercise led her to spend an hour with each model, which helped Sather reconnect with them.

Davis has provided similarly unique art to the gallery, both in presentation and subject matter. Her photography on display was generated from an assignment that required her to shoot a location. She chose a convent in Manitowoc, Wis., where her aunt is a Franciscan nun.

ìNot a lot of people get a chance to see the inside of a convent,” she said. ìItís their own little world.”

One of the most striking photographs is a symmetrically framed image of an old television ó the kind that came in its own cabinet and sat on the floor ó adorned with religious iconography such as a crucifix. These juxtapositions of everyday life aside religious images are what drew Davis to the project, she said.

Five artists submitted work to the Coffman Gallery, and Davis said she hopes that trend continues. Art students rarely get a chance to display their work in a gallery setting, which is sad because itís considered the apex of completing an art major.

ìWe especially want to get student artists in there from the ëU,í ” she said. ìWe want to make that gallery a place for students.”