March 24, 2020
Kenyon is suspending its residential program and transitioning to remote instruction. Read more about Kenyon's response to COVID-19.
The three students who live in New Apartment A1 on North Campus want people to peek in their window. That’s because there is an art gallery inside the vacant bedroom that previously held one roommate’s shoes.
Two apartment residents, Guy Bailey ’17 and Rose Bishop ’17, teamed with friend Eileen Cartter ’16 to start Gallery @ A1 for student art, viewable only through the large, rectangular window. People walking by in early November saw a sculpture that Bailey, a studio art major, made of found items: a yellow shopping cart atop a mound of plastic bags, holding folded carpet padding painted pink and blue. For the next exhibit, the gallery operators commissioned a video piece from Harrison Curley ’15, of Orlando, Florida.
The gallery project comes from the idea that virtually anything one looks at can become art, said Bishop, an art history major from Sag Harbor, New York. “In opening up our home to the surrounding community, we hope to provide an area for artistic dialogue, collaboration and reflection,” reads the mission statement posted in the gallery.
The three say the pop-up isn’t meant to last, with the roommates set to study off campus next semester and Cartter, of West Hartford, Connecticut, graduating in the spring with a double major in English and American studies. “It’s a fun way to use our last two or three months in this apartment, which has treated us well,” Bishop said.
She and Cartter were inspired partly by their course “Contemporary Art and Society,” taught by Austin Porter, who explores art, culture and politics in classes as a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Study of American Democracy. The class examines preconceptions about where and how fine art can be presented.
Bailey, a community advisor from Hillsboro, Ohio, who secured permission from Housing and Residential Life to open the gallery, made the shopping cart creation for a sculpture class and called it waste and wasted space. Bishop said the piece took on new meaning in the vacant bedroom, highlighting unused space on campus, and it toys with the idea of undesired products.
When the group started planning in early October, the third apartment resident, Milo Booke ’17, of Pine Plains, New York, helped empty the room, dragging a mattress up a flight of stairs and moving his shoes out of the closet, which Bishop said is referred to as the “Booke Wing.”
The gallery operators chose not to publicize before opening. Cartter said they liked the idea of people stumbling upon the gallery and hearing about it through social media. About 40 people — students and professors — came by the gallery over two hours during an opening reception.
While subverting the idea of the gallery space, the group has fun. For example, a bottle of A.1. steak sauce sits on the windowsill. Cartter claims the title chief operating officer, and six students — all friends of the gallery founders — sit on the tongue-in-cheek board of trustees, which is chaired by roommate Booke.
Bailey stressed the fleeting nature of the exhibition space as he prepares to study in New York this winter. “The gallery could die out,” he said.
– Elana Spivack ’17