New City Arts & UVA Arts Student Exhibition
A new partnership between UVA Arts and a downtown Charlottesville gallery is giving students a valuable taste of what awaits them in the art world by combining a month-long exhibit opportunity with professional guidance, mentorship and networking channels – all thanks to New City Arts. Maureen Brondyke is a 2008 UVA graduate with a degree in Studio Art and now the Executive Director of New City Arts Initiative, located just off the Downtown Mall. She knew the idea was a win-win the moment she heard it. “A community member suggested that we set aside a month every year to feature UVA students in partnership with UVA Arts,” Brondyke said. “We provide professional support and guidance on how to put together an exhibit, including writing an artist statement, a bio, how to work on pricing, and more.” Brondyke is particularly happy to be able to use the partnership to give back to department that gave her so much, while building bridges between UVA Arts and the larger surrounding community.
“I was a UVA Studio Art major who studied printmaking. My experience in the studio learning from my professors, surrounded by a community of incredibly talented artist peers, was very formative for me as a student. I was particularly excited about the potential for this partnership because as an alumna, I feel like I am familiar with the current artists who were undergrads or in the fifth-year fellowship program, and Welcome Gallery seemed like a great place to introduce their work to the Charlottesville community.” Another exciting aspect, she said, is the fact that each artist will be connected with a professional artist mentor.
The inaugural exhibit, presented last December, featured then UVA fourth-year Kirsten Hemrich, who was partnered with mentor, and fellow abstract artist Sarah Boyts Yoder. “I had done shows before,” Hemrich said, “but this was my first true solo exhibition with the pressure and deadlines that brings.” The process involved another valuable component for her in that it helped her to get more comfortable talking about her work, including giving an artist talk at the opening reception and a brown-bag lunch session. “At school, you are usually just talking to people about your work who are sort of in your world, including other students and teachers. It is a much different challenge to be able to talk to people who are not artists and who are really interested in hearing about your work.” The combination of Hemrich’s remarkable work and her growing ability to share her thoughts about it helped make the month a great success – she sold each of the seven paintings in the exhibit, and earned two commissions, in addition to selling some of her drawings. Brondyke said that she and her New City Arts colleagues hope that the exhibit opportunity complements students’ undergraduate experiences and studies, and can help third and fourth-years prepare for their final thesis show. The second annual partnership exhibit is currently up at New City Arts.