Editorial: UCR should invest in student art

Courtesy of sweeney.ucr.edu
Courtesy of sweeney.ucr.edu

In an effort to instill a greater sense of school spirit in the UCR student body and encourage an increased interest in the arts, we at the Highlander Editorial Board have put together a simple proposal designed to get students more energized about the artistic endeavors of their peers as well as UCR’s campus itself without breaking the administration’s bank. To put it simply, UCR should invest in the production, development and exhibition of student art on campus.

While UCR and the Riverside community do have several very prominent art events throughout the year, from occasional student exhibitions at the Sweeney Art Gallery to the Arts Walk every first Thursday of the month, very few of them actually take place on UCR grounds, nor is there much art on display on campus (a few sculptures aside).  The Phyllis Gill Gallery provides art majors with an opportunity to show their work off to the student body, but, since it is located in the arts building, the majority of the students that get to see the work therein are generally part of the community that put it there in the first place.  The gallery is an excellent resource for art majors, but it doesn’t do much in the way of campus-wide exposure.

That being said, the basic system by which the Phyllis Gill Gallery is run is not without merit.  Students submit proposals for projects and then work alongside faculty mentors to produce pieces that are, once approved, put on display for the whole department to see.  There is no reason that a similar system couldn’t be used on a broader scale to assist students with the production of art (sculptures, paintings, fountains, etc) that could then be put up at different locations around campus.  The university could even hold competitions to decide what student work would win a place of honor on campus.

It would also be relatively easy to plan out regular outdoor exhibitions at UCR.    The university could, for example, host an art garden every other week on the Rivera Lawn at which student painters could present their work to interested passersby.  The Rivera Library itself, in addition, would be an ideal place to feature UCR students’ artistic achievements, as would the dorms and any other frequently visited common building.

These changes would incur little cost on the part of administrators, and they could have a substantial effect on students’ perception of and relationship with the university.  Displaying student art on campus would show that the UCR community values its students’ creative output, and it would give talented artists an opportunity to feature their work in ways that they have never before had access to.  It would also go a long way to beautifying the campus and giving students a greater feeling of pride in their surroundings.  With student work on every corner, our university would gain a sense of communal history that, while not absent, has been somewhat lacking in years past.

Perhaps most importantly, we must remember that nourishing the arts and putting more effort into maintaining and bettering our surroundings on campus are in no way superficial pursuits. A greater investment in student art would give current students one more reason to prize their university and prospective students one more reason to consider making UCR their new home.  Furthermore, it would serve as a reminder of our progress as a growing member of the UC family and proof that we value the grounds and students that make our university what it is today.

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