Rutgers Visual Arts department will hold open house later this month
Mason Gross’ Visual Arts Department will be opening its doors on Oct. 28 in a collaborative effort to attract prospective students and provide insight into the program.
“The aim for this particular open house is for prospective graduate and undergraduate students to really get a sense of the program and the culture here,” said Cassandra Oliveras-Moreno, senior administrative assistant to the Mason Gross Visual Arts Department and organizer of the event.
Oliveras-Moreno said the event will begin with informational sessions that talk through the curricular offerings and portfolio guidelines. The floor will then be opened up for discussion and Q&A where guests can get their questions answered in real time by the faculty and staff on site.
At the information sessions, Visual Arts Department Chair Gerry Beegan, Undergraduate Director Julie Langsam and Undergraduate Program Coordinator Amee Pollack will be speaking.
After the information briefing, a panel of students will be talking about their experiences in the program. Pollack said usually about five students who have been hand selected by the department speak for two to five minutes, leaving a fair enough time for the Q&A afterward.
The information session is followed by facility tours led by students. Oliveras-Moreno said that the tours go through all the various classrooms and studios so students can get a glimpse into the workspaces and see whether or not they can envision themselves there.
Pollack said the panelists really enjoy it, and it is an opportunity for them to do some public speaking. Some of them even have work in the show on display so it is a chance for them to get some response from the viewers.
“The students that give our tour really enjoy the experience because they feel they benefited by coming to campus and meeting with other students and hearing their experience,” Pollack said.
Every year the gallery on display during the event has a different theme and this year the theme is “between either and or.” Oliveras-Moreno said it sounds like the most nebulas open-ended theme possible but was actually the aim to give students creative latitude to explore the depths of what that could mean.
Mason Gross School of the Arts junior and secretary of the Mason Gross student government Anna Reid said that she attended the open house as a prospective first-year and found it very beneficial in getting a lot of her questions about the school answered.
One of the main features of the event is the annual Master of Fine Arts (MFA) open studios where once a year MFA students open their doors to the public and the University community at large, Oliveras-Moreno said.
She said what is typically the solitary art practice is opened up for others to kind of see their works in progress and to meet the artist, ask questions about their practice their vision.
“I think that ‘between either and or’ kind of encapsulates moments of transition and a point of change which is kind of what I’ve been focusing on. It is purposefully open so you can pursue your own interest in it,” Reid said.
First and foremost the gallery space is one of the best things the undergraduate building has to offer, she said. For the welcome back show that will be on display, a lot of students will be showing work for the first time which is a really big part of being an artist.
Reid said the open house is a wonderful way for prospective students to see the facilities. They can see where they would be painting, processing darkroom photography or where they would be printmaking if they were to come here.
“It really helps you get a concrete understanding of what it would be like as a student and to hear students talk about their experiences is way better than researching it online or trying to gage on your own what it would be like in actuality,” Reid said.
The undergraduate program is one is the department’s best-kept secrets because they are considered one of the best graduate programs in the country for visual arts. Pollack said after Yale it is Mason Gross.
Pollack said nine of the faculty members have won a Guggenheim Fellowship. Even though the faculty is full-time they are still active and exhibiting all over the world in museums like the Centre Pompidou in Paris or the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.
She said the undergraduate program has not quite caught up in terms of letting people know how good the program is. It shares the same faculty as the graduate program and really is the best-kept secret.
“For being relatively young within a large research institution it really is a nice conservatory for art thinking and a real community of artists,” she said.
She said what in truth is on display in the community they have built.
The open house is really a day to get a sense of all that the program offers. Pollack said they have tied the open house to the open studios so prospective students get to see the undergraduate program, the work produced, the faculty involved, the staff that supports it, and then they get to see graduate work.
“We just really want to remind the public and the University community that this is a welcoming space ….to come and experience what we do in our sense of community,” Oliveras-Moreno said.
Brielle Diskin is a School of Arts and Sciences junior. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.