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Looking through the Looking Glass: An interdisciplinary exhibition

This+piece+here+called+%E2%80%9CPresumed+Cube%E2%80%9D+is+made+by+Hayden+Girling.+This+sculpture+is+made+from+steel+rod.+Jan.+25th+%0A
Max Sanborn
This piece here called “Presumed Cube” is made by Hayden Girling. This sculpture is made from steel rod. Jan. 25th

In an alcove across from Crossroads in the Plemmons Student Union lies the Looking Glass Gallery: a space for students and faculty to showcase their art in a small gallery setting, allowing the chance for experimentation in their creations. The current exhibition taking place Jan. 16-30 titled “Leading Legacy: Visual Art Across Campus,” features student artists from across several different academic disciplines. 

Walking into the space, one is surrounded by all types of eye-catching artworks such as “Sense of Self” by Becca Stickler, featuring several rows of photo prints, or thought-provoking pieces such as “Presumed Cube” by Hayden Girling, crafted out of a metal rod.

Typically, the gallery headlines local artists, students in artistic disciplines and art faculty, but this show aims to open up the space for all students who create art to have their work displayed in a professional setting.

Art Collections and Looking Glass Manager Samantha Oleschuk and Looking Glass Gallery Curator Olivia Hoagland, both senior art and visual culture majors, worked to put this special exhibition together.

“This exhibition was a brainchild of Olivia and I to show the importance of the Looking Glass Gallery across campus for all students, because we serve more than just the Art Department,” Oleschuk said. “Increasing visibility of the gallery for student artists on campus that may not be studying art but create art and find enjoyment and creativity in it was important to us.”

Though the Looking Glass Gallery puts together several art shows each semester, the process of making each one happen takes a lot of time. Oleschuk outlines how Hoagland and she prepared for this exhibition and the steps they took for it to be successful. 

“Putting something like this together took many months with lots of scheduling, collecting all the artwork and getting together over thirty artist statements and quotes to put in the gallery guide,” Oleschuk said. “It was a lot of follow up and follow through, but it was something Olivia and I were passionate about, and we are so grateful that we had a great team to support us.”

The Plemmons Student Union Art Team put in a lot of work to organize everything, so watching the show come to fruition and seeing what the Looking Glass Gallery meant to the exhibiting artists made the hard work worth it.

Exhibiting artist Victoria “Vika” Hunter, a graduate student studying Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Family Therapy and Higher Education speaks on the type of outlet the Looking Glass can be for young artists.

“The Looking Glass Gallery is an emerging outlet for various types of young artists who are excited to express themselves. Although I have only been at App State for one short semester, I have walked through the gallery and felt its unique dynamics,” Hunter said.

Exhibiting artist, Chloe Cooke, a senior graphic design major, touches on the positive environment of the Looking Glass.

“I think the Looking Glass Gallery gives students the important chance to build their confidence in displaying their artwork. The art community can feel closed off to new or young artists, and the Looking Glass Gallery provides a welcoming environment,” Cooke said.

As both an exhibiting artist and a co-curator of the exhibition, Hoagland reflected on the effect of the Looking Glass Gallery on her and how it might impact others in the App State community.

This multi item sculpture is named “Gun #3 Reimagine”. The artist, (Mandy Bass) made this sculpture from bronze, some found objects and spanish cedar wood.

“I visited the Looking Glass before I switched to an art major, so for me, it was more like a personal interest, and it’s in such a great location on campus that I feel like so many people get to see what’s in there,”  Hoagland said. “It almost feels like an escape so people can relax.”

The show had an open call to all students, so there were several art pieces from students in a variety of different majors including computer science, sustainable development, studio art, sociology, geography and many more. This gave them the chance to do something that they may not have been able to do otherwise.

“The Looking Glass is also an opportunity for students on campus,” Hoagland said. This is one of the only chances for students who make art on the side or as a hobby to showcase their art if they didn’t pursue it in another way.”

The gallery not only embraces the creative expression and thoughts of the exhibiting artists, but it also welcomes visitors to communicate and interact with the gallery. In previous exhibitions, there is a creative corner for personal reflection, but for this exhibition, there is something bigger. 

“There’s not a creative corner in this exhibition because the whole wall is our creative corner. It is inviting visitors to reflect on what the Looking Glass Gallery means to them,” Oleschuk said. “People can connect and see that others are enjoying the space too and create a sense of belonging.”

From creating the exhibition to bringing out the creative side of students in majors who wouldn’t usually do many creative projects to inspiring creativity in those visiting the gallery, the exhibition prides itself in being a harbor of free expression.

“The exhibition says it all,” Oleschuk said. “The Looking Glass is for the students and everyone in Boone to engage in creativity, to have a calm place to go to between classes and to feel seen and included.”

The Looking Glass Gallery’s website notes upcoming events and exhibitions for the rest of the semester, including the section about the purchasing of new art from the Art + Design Expo that takes place annually in February.

The gallery guide for this exhibition features photos of the art pieces, the artists’ statements, brief explanations of the pieces and quotes from the exhibiting artists on what the Looking Glass means to them.

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About the Contributor
Max Sanborn, Photographer
Max Sanborn (he/him) is a sophomore Commercial Photography Major, from Indian trail, NC. This is his first year with The Appalachian.
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