Student art show draws a diverse crowd

Sixty-seven works of art hung on the walls of 45 Howe St. on Friday evening as members of the Yale community sipped wine and considered purchasing the works on display.

Ten undergraduate artists displayed their work at the Undergraduate Art Show last Friday, the first one of its kind where attendees could purchase the pieces on view. Head curator Cristina Vere Nicoll ’14 organized the event, which drew roughly 400 students and faculty members over the course of the evening, in collaboration with Gerson Zevi, an online art gallery dedicated to helping young collectors find pieces by emerging artists. The show was advertised with the slogan “Start collecting the big names,” and Vere Nicoll said she hoped to provide a creative space where student artists tired of storing or discarding their works can display and potentially sell them.

“We saw this as an opportunity to give the art a chance to live and breathe on the wall of someone who really enjoys it,” Vere Nicoll said. “At the end of the day I think these profits will support a lot of these artists and a lot of their future work.”

Seven seniors, one junior, one sophomore and one former Yale student contributed their art to the exhibition. Their works explore a range of themes — from modern spirituality to memory as a repository for identity. The artists also used a variety of media to capture these themes, including photography and oil paint.

Vere Nicoll said many attendees expressed interest in purchasing pieces, adding that 60 percent of the 67 works on view were sold on Friday night. The remainder will be available for purchase on the site gersonzevi.com. Ninety percent of revenue will go directly to the artists, while the remaining 10 percent will cover the cost of promoting the show and printing informational booklets for attendees, Vere Nicoll said.

Johanna Flato ’14 made five of her nine pieces by melting plastic grass with an iron, which created a paint-like texture interspersed with patches of unmelted grass. She said she is intrigued by artificial materials that can seem natural, adding that she considers plastic grass the “perfect medium” to explore the boundary between the natural and the artificial. She also said she uses plastic grass to explore the way humans use land.

“For me, ironing, melting, burning are all reflections of processes that I know go on with actual land,” Flato said. “I see ironing in terms of burning land, trying to control land, make it uniform.”

Artists and attendees noted the unusual diversity of the crowd present at the show — some said they think one reason for the diversity may be that the exhibition took place at the track house, which has never before hosted an art show. Curators said they tried to separate the work by artist as much as possible, but added that they made most decisions related to the placement of the pieces on the day of the show. The team of curators and designers had one day to clean up the space and set up the exhibition.

Nnamdi Udeh ’14, a resident of 45 Howe St. who attended the show, said he was impressed by the transformation of the space, adding that he thinks viewing art on the walls of his home instead of in a classroom or a gallery was an eye-opening experience. He added that he was pleased to see so many Yale athletes at the event.

“I think [the turnout] shows athletes are open to the artistic community,” Udeh said.

Gaby Bucay ’17, a prospective studio art major, said she thinks the strong turnout showed broad support for Yale’s artists, adding that the experience solidified her desire to pursue the art major.

Gerson Zevi was founded by Harvard graduates Matteo Zevi and Alexander Gerson.

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