New student-led structure of Martha Bennett Gallery

The art of transition

Annie O'Connell, InDepth Editor

The Martha Bennett Gallery of the Upper School, historically headed by the Blake arts faculty, presents new possibilities with a switch in leadership towards sole student control.  In September, six selected student art enthusiasts act as the curatorial committee for the gallery, managing all things from spackling the walls to determining the theme of upcoming exhibitions.  The dynamical shift, however, has not been an abrupt occurrence.  

Bill Colburn, of the art department, and previous director of the gallery remarks, “it’s been the last four or so years now, where we have had a curatorial group that has done more and more work,” alluding to the organics of transition within the space.  While the impact, “has yet to be seen,” the current leadership suggests the increasing involvement of students and the limitless avenues of creative assertion resulting from the control over content.  “Students know how other student want and like to get involved,” says committee member Norah Mortenson ‘16, promising a reinvigorated connection between the student perspective and the perspective translated onto the walls.  

So, how does one get involved?  Katerina Papas ‘17, of the committee, expects the changes’ influence to take shape “in the next few months,” and continues on to say, “whatever your vision, you can achieve it.”  The smooth conversion to student leadership accredits itself to the guidance and exemplar management by Colburn, “he’s a big part of the gallery, he’s the guy we look up to and ask opinions of.”  

And, next semester with the start to sabbatical for Colburn, the surrounding safety net will be released.  Luckily, “we’ve had a few months for him to guide us,” remarks Papas confident in the capabilities of well-immersed committee members.  Hopefully, as the school year progresses, Colburn’s idea that, “the gallery can be about learning and not just showing art,” will reap valuable benefits amongst the school’s canvas.