Coffman Art Gallery exhibits students’ work

by Molly Moker

Many students use Coffman Union to study, grab a slice of pizza or attend club meetings. But some students use the union to showcase artwork.

Currently, fifth-year art student Chad Maender’s artwork is showcased in the Coffman Art Gallery in front of the union’s theater.

Maender’s collection is titled “Light, Water, and Sky: A Contemplation on Time.” The collection is inspired by his experiences living in Venice, Italy, where he studied during the summers of 2002 and 2003.

His art is mixed media, which includes paintings, drawings and printmaking on paper and canvas.

The collection will be displayed until Jan. 20.

Maenders said he has been drawing since he was old enough to use his Fisher-Price Easel Desk.

He learned how to draw from a “Star Wars” drawing book, he said. But he became hooked after an eighth-grade art show.

“I thought it was so cool to have your work up on the wall with your name next to it,” Maender said. “I still have that drawing.”

Maender said he feels privileged to be able to do something he loves.

“I play all day at the art building,” he said. “I may not produce great art, but I’m happy.”

His art might have different meanings for anyone who looks at it, and that is rewarding, he said.

“They think they don’t understand (art), but you don’t have to understand it,” he said. “It’s how it makes you feel.”

Maender will graduate from the University in December with a bachelor of fine arts degree in painting, drawing and printmaking, and a bachelor of arts in art history.

Although the Coffman Union Art Gallery is not the most ideal showing place, any place you can share your art is worth using, Maender said

Tricia Schweitzer, visual arts committee adviser, said the committee selected Maender’s work based on its quality, character and content.

The committee, which is part of the Minnesota Programs and Activities Council, is composed of students. It selects artists to display work on an ongoing basis. Anyone can apply to display in the gallery, but priority is given to students, Schweitzer said.

Maender is the fourth artist to display his work in the gallery. So far, all artists have been students.

Schweitzer said Maender’s work has received a lot of positive feedback.

Laurel Winter and Amanda Larson, students studying in the art gallery, said they thought displaying student artwork was a good idea.

“It’s everywhere, not just one piece among the sterile furniture,” said Winter, a psychology junior.

Artists are paid $100 a month to showcase in the space, and they can also sell their work.

Schweitzer said none of Maender’s work has been purchased from the gallery yet.

This spring, the art gallery will display a first-year student photo project called “Visions of You: Picture Your First Year.”

The display will feature the work of first-year students enrolled in a class that teaches how to incorporate photography into their first year.