The artistic heart of the university pulsates deep within the Dalhousie Arts Centre, in a thought-provoking forum for the entire community.
The Dalhousie Art Gallery is such a vital part of the campus experience for Matthieu Comeau and friends, they felt more students should connect with the cityÕs oldest public art gallery. So they formed a new group, Students for the Dalhousie Art Gallery Society, open to all academic disciplines.
ÒThe society and the gallery in general provide a crucial outlet for students who might not otherwise be exposed to art,” says Comeau.
Launched in September, the society encourages students to check out the galleryÕs exhibitions, film screenings and student social nights. Now including more than 30 members, the group also organizes cultural discussions and outings to other galleries. Future goals include talks by visiting artists, and events in conjunction with music and theatre students. University staff and faculty are also welcome to participate in the society.
The gallery explores many societal issues that appeal to a much broader spectrum than the artistically inclined. Imaging a Shattering Earth: Contemporary Photography and the Environmental Debate, and its accompanying symposium on art and activism, drew big crowds and many class tours in February. The current exhibitions also appeal to varied interests: Affecting Presence is an interactive experiment in bio-feedback, converting your brainwaves into projected images, while Material Transfer alters mundane objects into less definable modes, with works by artists from Beijing to Amsterdam. Throughout April, the galleryÕs free weekly film series delves into the Italian Renaissance.
ÒWeÕve had students from the environmental science programs, law, history, engineering, even toxicology. ItÕs really been encouraging to see people from so many different disciplines coming into the gallery. ItÕs an amazing resource for the entire university,” says Comeau.
He also works part-time and volunteers at the nationally-respected gallery, which even inspired his own research interests Ð Comeau is pursuing a masterÕs degree in social anthropology, with a focus on museology.
Susan Gibson Garvey, DalhousieÕs acclaimed curator and director, thinks the new society is terrific for enticing all students to feel comfortable with art in a gallery setting.
ÒYou can just come here and É be É and thatÕs important,” says Gibson Garvey, who recently earned the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (RCA) award for her extraordinary contributions to CanadaÕs visual culture.
ÒYou donÕt have to say anything or do anything. We had a student who would come here every day during one exhibition just to lie down on the carpet. From this position, he would gaze up at two large carved masks by (Maliseet artist) Ned Bear. He said he found them relaxing."
To learn more about the society or the gallery, call 494.2403, email email@example.com, or see artgallery.dal.ca. Or better yet, drop by Ð the gallery is open Tuesdays through Sundays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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