Absence of an Art Gallery Challenges Student Artists
At the start of a new school year, Riverdale students felt something missing while walking through the hallways in Mow. The walls were unusually white and mundane due to the recent repainting; the absence of art made the Riverdale community appreciate the artwork that was once displayed. Art is what makes Riverdale inviting, as it enables curious students to expand their imagination and explore different concepts through a creative lens. Some Riverdale faculty and students are are bewildered as to why Riverdale does not possess a designated art gallery as art is a crucial part of the Riverdale community.
An art gallery is a place for creativity and curiously to flourish, a space for students to interact and resonate with the artwork around them. Mr. Peter Simon, the head of the art department, expresses, “Hallways are wonderful, but there are limitations. It is hard to maintain artwork and display 3D pieces. The benefits of art would be heightened in an art gallery.”
With a gallery, people of the Riverdale community will not have to observe art amidst constant motion in hallways, but will instead have a quiet moment to indulge themselves in the deeper meaning of the artwork. Members of the art faculty allude that an art gallery increases the visibility of serious artwork, which is important for the development of versatile artists and viewers.
“An art gallery will put people in contact with art and present an opportunity to think about things differently which is a school’s goal,” Mr. Simon said. “It allows students to be aware and present.”
The art department largely agrees that the addition of an art gallery would be rewarding for the Riverdale Community. Mr. Nicky Enright, a Riverdale art teacher and an activist commented, “I have taught at Fieldston and Horace Mann, which both have art galleries. A great school like Riverdale lacks very few things, so I haven’t a clue to why Riverdale lacks an art gallery.”
There might be two reasons why Riverdale has not taken measures to create a student gallery: space and priorities.
“Riverdale has a rich environment with a lot going on,” Mr. Simon explained. “So space is at a premium. Classrooms are needed for numerous activities, so there is no designated place for artwork.”
Riverdale has allotted temporary spaces for art displays in the past, most notably a wall in the student center for the Projects in Contemporary Art class, but even this space is semi-permanent with construction sometimes inhibiting the class.
Student artists in the Riverdale community are anxiously awaiting a gallery in order to learn something unique and to be challenged.
Riverdale sophomore Marie Shpilrain shares, “Art gives Riverdale a familial and cozy feeling, but in a student’s busy life, it is hard to find time to analyze the artwork in the hallways.”
Though there are no plans to foster a student art gallery currently in the works, the unanimous front among many art students and teachers will inevitably lead to positive changes in the future. Whether an already existing space is converted, or an entirely new one is created, it seems as though the art department will continue to advocate for this cause.