If the walls of the McCutchan Art Center/Pace Galleries could talk, they would have many stories to tell. Stories about art draped on its walls and displayed around every corner. Stories about the meanings behind the unique pieces. Stories about the artists who frequent the space. Stories about students who quietly observe, tiptoeing from corner to corner, as if to not disturb pieces calling the gallery home for a time. Tucked away in the basement of USI’s College of Liberal Arts, the unique space is a must see/feel experience.
Unlike many other spaces at USI, the McCutchan Art Center/Pace Galleries is quiet and reserved, allowing visitors to take in the ambience and unique sights. Artists from around the Midwest (and sometimes from other parts of the country), students, alumni and employees are responsible for bringing the gallery to life.
With five shows a year, the feel of the McCutchan Art Center/Pace Galleries is ever-changing. The Fall Semester hosts two shows, one close to the start, featuring established artists typically recruited through connections with USI faculty. The current exhibition, Present Perfect: A Showcase of Past Visiting Artists, features the work of three artists who have given workshops to USI students but have not exhibited at the University prior. “This one is unique because these artists were originally supposed to show summer 2020,” Brett Anderson, Associate Professor of Art, says. “This is the first exhibition we’ve been able to have artists who aren’t part of campus show [in the gallery] in the last year.”
Further into the Fall Semester, the 2021 Senior Seminar Exhibition will be on display, featuring the creative work of USI students studying studio art, graphic design, interactive media and illustration. The Spring Semester brings the Efroymson Fellowship exhibition to the gallery. The Efroymson Bridge Year Fellowship is a competitive award program awarded to one graduating senior or recent alum from the Art and Design Department annually.
Following this exhibition is the Annual Juried Student Art Show, taking place late in the Spring Semester. This show allows students to enter up to four works in any combination of media for the possibility of being chosen to be featured in the final exhibition by an expert in the field of art, invited by the Art and Design faculty for his/her/their expertise and understanding of undergraduate artworks. The Student Art Show gives students real-world, resume-building experience in preparing and displaying their work while also boosting their confidence in applying to future gallery exhibitions.
In a typical year (without the pandemic), there is usually a summer exhibition on display in the gallery with art provided by local artists, alumni and others. Summer exhibitions traditionally go on display in early June and are available to experience until the start of the Fall Semester. Past summer exhibitions include Converters: Work by Amanda Smith and Tonja Torgenson and Stephen Pace: An Artist’s Process.
“The space is very functional—at the very least, you can just be a guest or someone who has little gallery experience visiting,” Anderson says. “Then there are students in our capstone classes who are using it in a more intimate way to show their own work and learn from the experiences it provides.”
The current exhibition, Present Perfect: A Showcase of Past Visiting Artists, is on display now through Friday, October 8. Though there’s little sound present as you stroll through the gallery, one thing’s for sure: the walls of the McCutchan Art Center/Pace Galleries have many stories to tell and are waiting for the USI community to experience them.
This feature was written by Kaylee Johnson, Graduate Assistant in University Communications.