Right now the Exit Gallery is exhibiting student art, and while this may not seem out of the ordinary, it’s not MSU student art. Our fellow students at University of Montana (UM) are currently being exhibited as part of a first time artist exchange. The ASMSU Exit Gallery Student Director, Hannah Safford, had an idea “thinking about how many students graduate from Montana State with only Bozeman shows on their resume, and with no experience working with any other colleges in their career.”
From that idea, the artist exchange initiative was born. After contacting the University Center (UC) Gallery at UM, Safford embarked on working with fellow student artist and Co-Coordinator of the UC Gallery, Kristina Myer Rollins, to make the exchange happen. “Because the UC Gallery schedules their art shows on a yearly basis,” Safford notes, “we basically had to wait until somebody cancelled their show to get us in.”
The work that will be shown in Missoula by MSU artists is based off of the word “body” and how students choose to interpret that in their work. The four artists sent to exhibit in the UC Gallery are Megan Clark, a senior sculptor; Daniel Donovan, a second year ceramics graduate student; Crista Carleton, a second year print-making graduate student; and Safford herself, “because a lot of the work I do is anatomically based.” Here in Bozeman, we are hosting UM’s Kristina Myer Rollins and Crista Ann Ames in a show titled “Undone.” Their work in the Exit Gallery focuses on women, gender roles and female identity.
Speaking about why she wanted to start the exchange, Safford points out, “We are missing real life professional development, and we never really get a chance to travel or look at art outside our area. This is something that is very much needed. We need to get the educational diet of the students diversified.” The artist exchange accomplishes this by allowing the students to travel, show their work elsewhere, give talks and expand their resume and portfolio, as well as grow artistically and professionally.
This is the first artist exchange to happen in the Montana University System. Safford said she had to cut ASMSU funds for food at receptions and printing in order to budget money for travel, gas and food costs of transporting artists from both schools. Safford also worked and talked with ASMSU President Lindsay Murdock. In creating the exchange, Safford noted, “it took a lot of planning very far ahead,” as well as “scheduling the drives, getting things installed — just getting the kinks worked out.”
Despite all of the difficulties, Safford enthusiastically describes “seeing students at MSU excited about Rollins and Ames art and seeing the faculty be pumped on this happening” as rewarding fruits for all the labor. For the future, Safford hopes to coordinate exchanges with schools like our sister branch, MSU-Billings, as well as schools (yet to be determined) in Helena. Crossing state lines may even happen in the future — schools such as University of Idaho or University of Wyoming could also be candidates for ASMSU to work with to bring in new artists and export “Bozeman’s unique culture,” as Safford fondly calls it.
Safford isn’t just thinking about art when she talks about the exchange. Encouraging students and other clubs to try to work an exchange out themselves. “You learn so much so quickly! This exchange is peer-to-peer education and sharing creativity back and forth,” said Safford. “It’s a win-win situation for everybody. Even if this was a flop, at the end of the day, your work is sitting in a totally different environment being seen by totally different people!”
The Exit Gallery in the Strand Union in Room 221 will be showing the art of Kristina Myer Rollins and Crista Ann Ames Sept. 9 – 22. The UC Gallery in Missoula will be showing the art of Megan Clark, Daniel Donovan, Crista Carleton and Hannah Safford from Sept. 30 to Oct. 26. Comments and questions are welcome and should be sent to email@example.com.