Walls that are usually home to hanging art pieces were temporarily bare, with only a large wooden studio desk and an unarranged photography backdrop taking up the open space at SF State’s Associated Students Inc. art gallery.
Located at the top of the Cesar Chavez student center, ASI opened their empty gallery for the first time to provide free studio space for students last week, Jan. 30 through Feb. 3.
Renae Moua, assistant gallery curator, said they usually have an off-week between exhibits when the gallery is completely empty, but this time decided to open the space to students.
“Instead of keeping it closed for installation, we just decided to keep it open and let students come and use the space to pretty much work on their projects,” Moua said.
Moua, who does photography, took the liberty of bringing her own personal lights and backdrop to the temporary studio to let other photographers use her equipment. With the help of other curators, she also offered sessions while she was there.
“Everyone else here is good with lighting and can help people take photos,” Moua added.
Javier Etchegaray, who is also an assistant gallery curator for ASI, said because this is the first attempt at doing this, many students don’t know the option exists.
Although students used the space for a photoshoot on Jan. 30, Etchegaray said the first opening wasn’t as successful as he’d hoped.
Although Moua reached out to professors and fellow students in the art department and posted fliers around campus and on social media, she said a lot of people still didn’t know about the free work space.
Sydney Burke, an art major at SF State, was included in those who were unaware about the temporary open studio space.
“I am not sure if there even is a social media space for them to inform us,” Burke said.
ASI’s goal was to utilize the entire space instead of only displaying art, according to Etchegaray. He wants the gallery to be more interactive with students, and said they also considered hosting movie screenings.
“We’re definitely trying to expand the use of space beyond exhibits,” Etchegaray said. “This is definitely us trying to branch out.”
Burke believes having a permanent studio space for students on campus is important. She said she would often utilize the space, like many other students artists she knows.
Moua agrees having a permanent studio space for students would be valuable, but is unsure of how much the space will be used.
“I would think it would be beneficial just to use it as a community art center,” Moua said. “But it really depends on what students would use it.”
The temporary studio was only open for a week, but according to Moua, the assistant curators want to bring it back between exhibitions, which change about every two months. They use their open studio week to begin planning for the next exhibit.
“While we’re doing this, we’re also preparing for our next exhibition, which is Feb. 16…called ‘Shaking Systems,’” Moua said.