Nestled in the halls of Knobview, the Ronald L. Barr Gallery is not just a place where art is displayed — it is also used by IUS professors as a teaching tool.
“I know that it’s been used by myself and other faculty as a way to sort of get students introduced to artists,” said Emily Sheehan, assistant professor of fine arts. “It’s a good supplement for my curriculum this semester.”
The Barr Gallery averages ten shows a year— professional artists occupy the space in the first half of the fall semester and the Annual Juried Student Exhibition begins in December. Spring semester is reserved for Bachelors of Fine Arts (BFA) Exhibitions. Depending on the number of students, there are usually three to four shows.
Each show is on display for about three weeks with a week between for setting up the next show. All exhibitions for the Barr Gallery are planned one year in advance.
Professors and co-coordinators Anne Allen and Kok Cheow Yeoh both said creating exhibits for the Barr Gallery is a collaborative effort.
“The large decision-making process is a group effort for the Fine Arts faculty,” Yeoh said.
There are a few ways the Fine Arts department comes up with ideas for exhibits. Faculty and students often pitch ideas to the department. Professional artists can also submit a proposal to show their work.
Artistic Space for Community
Yeoh said the Barr Gallery is for the community. Located by the Ogle Center, it is seen by visitors during shows, lectures and public engagements.
“It’s important to create that artistic area for people,” Yeoh said. “It is an important space and therefore never vacant. It is a great way to have the community see new art and be interested in the arts.”
“It seems like people from all across campus find their way to the Barr gallery,” Sheehan said.
Sheehan said the gallery is a great way for students to get experience installing artwork and hosting an art exhibition.
December and January feature the Annual Juried Student Exhibition, where any art student from the past year can submit work to be in the show. This process is juried by an outside professional to ensure fairness.
BFA Senior Exhibitions begin in the spring semester, as students start working toward this during their junior year. Seniors are put into groups and plan the show as a team. They create a theme that unites their work to make a cohesive show.
The students design postcards and announcements for the show. This gives them a learning opportunity to work with other artists and make sure everyone’s needs are met.
Gallery Director Needed
IU Southeast is the only school in the IU system that does not have a full-time gallery director. The gallery is seen as a part of the Fine Arts faculty service and the position rotates every two years.
“It’s kind of a shame, I think the gallery could be more,” Allen said. “We could have more things in the summer [and] we could teach students a whole lot more if we had someone who was a gallery director.”
Students who do not go to graduate school often work in galleries. Yeoh said offering a course taught by a full-time director would be a great asset to those students.
A full-time gallery director would be able to put in more time and effort and make the Barr Gallery a bigger presence in the community.
“Our priorities are the students,” Yeoh said. “I think given what we have, we do it well.”