The opening art show in the Kishwaukee College Art Gallery this fall was titled mesh, by artist AnaKris. Her works—created from industrial mesh, wires, and paint—are interconnected.
No one piece stands alone but gains meaning from the installation itself, involving the entire Gallery space. “Mesh is an installation that could not have had the same impact with the minimal floor space in the old Gallery,” said Steven Hoover, Director of the Kishwaukee College Art Gallery. “This would have been an impossible show in the old space.”
The “old space” is the former home of the Art Gallery: a sunken room with a wall of windows facing a courtyard. The rather ineffective Gallery facilities changed when the College Bookstore moved to the Student Center and its former space was renovated to become the new Art Gallery. Still free. Still open to the public. But bigger, better, and much more accessible.
Hoover explained some of the differences between the old and the new Art Gallery. “The new Gallery is a significant upgrade in size. It has a lot more wall space and floor space,” he said. “With the new lighting system, we have four times the amount of light fixtures. This will assist in professionally lighting artworks. In the old Gallery, I would often have to light two artworks with one light. To professionally light a show, you need at least two lights per artwork to cross the lights. This assists in equal light throughout the surface of a two-dimensional artwork and limits undesired hotspots. Three-dimensional work also needs multiple lights to successfully light the surface on all sides.”
The old Gallery also had one wall of windows, providing natural light. Hoover said, “Natural light typically works well with artwork, although it can also be problematic. The old Gallery had a wall of windows directly to the outside and it was difficult to control the light. Natural light enters from the ceiling outside of the new Gallery, which eliminates the issue of direct sunlight.”
With the new location on the first floor, directly off the main atrium of the building, the Art Gallery is more visible and more accessible. The front of the Gallery is now full-length windows, allowing passers-by to see the exhibition from the atrium area. “I see people sit and observe from a distance outside of the Gallery and eventually walk in,” he explained. “I think the problem with the old Gallery is a person would have to walk down the stairs to enter the Gallery and it created this exclusive “club” feel. With the entrance on the same level and the open concept, it creates a welcoming environment. Traffic in the Gallery has definitely picked up this fall.”
Hoover is using the new open space to full advantage, after the AnaKris mesh exhibition, he has a group showing and then the student art show to round out the semester. “The second show this year is very different from mesh. It is a group show of 30 artists, most of whom are retired art professors from NIU that still live in the area. On display are a variety of prints, drawings, sculptures, and paintings. After that will be the student art exhibition so the fall schedule is a full spectrum of artists in different stages of their careers—from a non-traditional installation to a show from established artists and then a show from emerging artists. The new Gallery has opened up the door to many more possibilities for shows. More established artists are willing to show here because of the new facility.”
For more information on the art collection at Kishwaukee College, visit: www.kishwaukeecollege.edu/go/artcollection/