Stuy Open Gallery Hosts Annual Exhibition

Artists in Stuy Open Gallery holds their first annual art exhibition since the creation of the club.

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When crossing through the first floor, many students’ eyes may have been drawn toward the colorful boards of artwork displayed near the music mural. These artworks can be attributed to Stuy Open Gallery (SOG), a club focused on creating and curating artworks made by its club members. Their first annual exhibition took place on May 25, with the artworks staying up for a couple of days for viewing. This year’s theme for the exhibition was “Depictions of Home.” Food and drinks were provided for viewers, and roughly 20 people attended the exhibition on May 25, with many more students and teachers viewing the exhibit on other days.

SOG is a relatively new club that was started in the fall by sophomores and Co-Creators Talia Arcasoy, Olivia Callahan, and Madeline Hutchinson to provide an environment in which students can showcase their art. “It’s a club aimed to provide Stuyvesant students, at a school where there aren’t [many] art opportunities, the chance to display their work,” Callahan said.

When creating SOG, the founders also hoped to make the process of creating and displaying art accessible to all. “A lot of the artwork [that had been] shown before is only restricted to, say, [Art Teacher William] Wrigley’s AP Studio Art class, which is really competitive to get into,” Hutchinson said. “Our goal as a club is to make sure that anyone at any skill level could join our club and have their works distributed and feel proud to show their work to the student body.”

Preparation for the exhibition started three to four weeks prior to the event, with early planning consisting of online meetings and resources to guide members through the process of creating and curating art. “We had a Zoom meeting about writing artistic statements and what makes a good title,” Hutchinson said. “We also did lots of slideshows about what curating work is about and the curatorial process.”

On the day of the exhibition, organizers physically constructed the display, which consisted of taping and stringing up artworks alongside their titles on art boards provided by the Stuyvesant art department. “We printed out the titles and oriented [them] on paper,” Hutchinson said. “We used wall-safe tape and strung up the artworks so it wouldn’t be damaged.”

One challenge organizers faced with the project was the process of organizing artwork aesthetically. “I think that filling up the boards and trying to figure out how all the pieces would fit together [was a challenge],” Hutchinson said. “Some people submitted multiple artworks. So we wanted to keep those together, but also make a balance board that would be interesting for people to look at. We had to figure out how to space the artworks correctly.”

In addition, the limited supply of materials made the construction process longer than expected, which resulted in organizers rushing to meet their set deadline for the event. “I think that we probably should have brought more adhesive material to hang stuff onto the walls. Things were kind of falling down as we were setting them up,” Hutchinson said. “We should have probably had more prep time to put up the artwork before we set the event to be at 4:30 [p.m.] and were rushing to put everything up.”

Despite these challenges, Callahan believed the event to be successful in showcasing the artistic abilities of its members. “People really seemed to enjoy the art. I feel that all the artists were really proud of what they did,” Callahan said.

For many participants, working with SOG allowed them to experiment with diverse mediums of art and develop artistic expression. “[Hutchinson, Callahan, and Arcasoy] encouraged us to use a lot of different media in our work, which was nice. [My artwork] was colorful because I genuinely had a good time in the club, so I wanted to make colorful art when I was there,” sophomore and SOG member Zoe Feigelson said. “I also used a lot of different materials because [SOG] provided them. A lot of people did a very diverse range of art.”

Additionally, many SOG members also saw this exhibition as a way to improve their art by embracing feedback from others. “It’s nice to show your work as often as you can and hear what people have to say about it, even if you aren't super confident about it,” Feigelson said. “Being encouraged to show your work, especially in high school when we're still learning ‘what good art is,’ is really constructive.”

Similarly, many artists in SOG were motivated to continue to showcase their artworks in future SOG events as a result of this exhibition’s success. “I [have] never had my artwork displayed before and this was my first [time]. I was pretty happy with it,” freshman and SOG member Elizabeth Chao said. “I feel like next year if we do another exhibit, I definitely want to have more artworks available.”

One major goal that SOG leaders have for the future is to make exhibitions open to people outside Stuyvesant. “[Hutchinson] is trying very hard for Mr. Moran to get people from outside the school to come in and look at our work [...] That would make it a lot more vibrant and special to have people from outside the school also coming in and appreciate our work,” Feigelson said. “I think it would [inspire] a lot [more] people to contribute to the show.”

Ultimately, for both members and leaders of SOG, they hope that its future exhibitions and meetings will help to establish SOG as a pivotal and lasting part of Stuyvesant. “[Though] it’s nice to have a close community, I hope the club doesn’t remain as a friend group,” Feigelson said. “I hope [that] it has a legacy that goes beyond just being a nice community and [that] it stays alive [among] the underclassmen.”