With CORE Gallery, PCA&D adds a vibrant venue for student engagement, exhibition, and experience
Friday, December 4th, 2020
Academic galleries inspire and train succeeding generations of students. For the campus community, these spaces provide greater accessibility to museum-level artworks, enable object-based learning, and broaden exposure in the scope of works shown from the local to the global level. With exhibitions of the highest caliber, academic galleries demonstrate best practices and organize curated exhibits that spark curiosity, encourage dialogue, and provide cross-departmental teaching and learning opportunities.
The Main Gallery at the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design bridges the local community to the institution and serves as an exemplary space for the campus community. The student body can grow within their personal practices by observing and interacting with the exhibitions, programming, and correlating publications. A select number of students can gain substantial employable skills from the one-on-one mentorship and behind-the-scenes experience afforded by a position as a Gallery Assistant student-worker.
Earlier this year, the College gained another gallery. The first student-run exhibition space. CORE Gallery (Creators of Real Experiences), was founded by Student Council to provide PCA&D students with opportunities to exhibit and present their creative work while building exhibition history and gallery management experience. The College’s Main Gallery exemplifies best practices; the student-run gallery space is a hands-on learning laboratory. The students learn by doing and have full creative freedom in this experiential learning environment. As a self-driven organization, they gain tremendous experience as leaders.
CORE Gallery’s Early History
The grand opening of CORE Gallery last March was celebrated at a dedication by President Michael Molla and the leadership team. Coming to Terms, the inaugural exhibition curated by Nikkole Hagginbothom ’20, Fine Art, provided participation for all members of the Class of 2020 in a text-based installation. As the pandemic’s realities swept through the nation and shifted colleges online, Hagginbothom transformed the exhibit to Instagram and maintained its participatory momentum.
Since then, a new group of rising seniors and other students has taken the reins. The CORE Gallery Curatorial Board is composed of committed and motivated creatives who dedicate themselves to overseeing the gallery’s operations. The 2020/2021 leadership includes Jaymi Vilardo ’22, Fine Art; Rachel Boldt ’21, Fine Art; Daisy Brooks ’22, Animation & Game Art; Kennedy Toomey ’22, Photography & Video; Na’Chelle Morris ’22, Photography & Video; Jericho Tulayan ’21, Graphic Design; Isaiah Bates ’22, Fine Art; Aidan Thackray ’22, Illustration; Miranda Hall ’21, Fine Art; and Cameron White ’24, Photography & Video.
This extraordinary group of students connected a physically disconnected student body during unprecedented times and circumstances created by COVID-19. In lieu of gallery walls and campus visitation, they produced a summerlong series of digital exhibitions with rapid two-week rotations on Instagram (@pcad_core_gallery). Calls for Art were cast to the student body for artwork in any medium from all majors within thematic parameters. The curatorial board then selected all exhibits and artists by a juried process. Many of these exhibits included additional programming such as live artist talks correlated with Lancaster’s First Fridays — keeping the College’s presence in the Lancaster community active during the shutdown. This inclusive approach and group mindset of unification are the staple of the CORE Gallery board’s methodology.
To celebrate the reopening of the College and CORE Gallery’s first physical exhibition since the inaugural display, Reawakening was unveiled in September. It reflected the students’ artistic transformations sparked by global health and social crises. Aiming to uplift and inspire the campus community with a message to metamorphose and grow as creatives, the featured artists included Joanna Becker ’21, Illustration; Adelaide Biehn ’22, Fine Art; Daisy Brooks ’22, Animation & Game Art; Dominique Bryson ’24, Illustration; Alex Eggleston ’23, Fine Art; Cassandra Kull ’22, Fine Art; Na’Chelle Morris ’22, Photography & Video; Callie Morton ’22, Fine Art; Emily Reifsnyder ’22, Photography & Video; Makayla Sherrid ’24, Illustration; Kennedy Toomey ’22, Photography & Video; Jaymi Vilardo ’22, Fine Art; and Cameren White ’24, Photography & Video.
In October, the curatorial board organized Phantasmagoria, a fantastical, dreamlike, and spine-chilling exhibition thematically coinciding with Halloween. Phantasmagoria featured 14 artists: Rachel Boldt ’21, Fine Art; Bianca Garcia ’24, Illustration; William Garrett ’22, Animation & Game Art; Bee Grissinger ’23, Fine Art; Hannah Guldin ’21, Illustration; Sami Halfpenny ’23, Illustration; Mandi Hall ’21, Fine Art; Kylie Hileman ’22, Fine Art; Dixon Pugh-Cook ’21, Animation & Game Art; Danny Rapp ’22, Animation & Game Art; Josh Samuelson ’23, Illustration; Kennedy Toomey ’22, Photography & Video; Jaymi Vilardo ’22, Fine Art; and Nicole Wesoloski ’24, Fine Art.
Programming planned for this exhibition was CORE Gallery’s most complex virtual event to date. Partnering with Student Life and collaborating with Student Council, the gallery launched Phantasmagoria After Dark, the College’s first-ever virtual Halloween party. This was designed as a virtual gala aligned with the exhibition’s theme of ghoulish art, and attendance was open to the entire college. The evening consisted of a Rocky Horror Watch Party with a film studies introduction by Liberal Arts faculty member David Spolum, a game room featuring Among Us, a Magma studio draw party, a music and socializing room, and costume and background contests with prizes. This multifaceted and successful event earned CORE Gallery organizers the opportunity to add “digital events management experience” to their resumes.