There’s no doubt that the Arts Department at the University of Wisconsin is top notch. With our #1 national ranking in printmaking and #31 national rank in overall arts programs, Badgers are in for a quality education when they choose to study art at UW.
While the UW Arts Department has many valuable tools in their repertoire, one particular asset that helps the Art School shine is their two student art galleries, Gallery 7 and Art Lofts.
While the two galleries are both spectacular, many UW students never get the chance to visit, or hear of them, at all. For this reason, the art galleries have taken on the reputation as underrated hidden gems on the UW campus.
But what exactly is it that makes our student art galleries so special? Art student Rachel Betters attributes this to their easy accessibility to students and availability to showcase all art styles.
“I love that we have a place to consistently showcase student work on campus,” Betters said. “Our campus galleries rotate frequently and showcase every type of student work. At our campus galleries, everything from metalworking to painting to graphic design is given the chance to be shown.”
Printmaking professor Faisal Abdu’Allah cites UW’s art galleries as unlimited creative spaces where students can take on larger societal problems through their art.
“Artists in the 21st century see the art gallery now as a platform to question societal norms, explore innovative ways of seeing and provide opportunities for hard to reach communities to create projects beyond the white walls of the gallery,” Abdu’Allah said.
The first of our two art galleries is Gallery 7. If you are able to navigate through the labyrinthine Humanities building, you will eventually come across this arts venue aptly named for its position on the seventh floor of the building.
Gallery 7 is popular among art enthusiasts who appreciate a wide variety of showings as the gallery rotates out new pieces of student work on a near-weekly basis, keeping the art-viewing experience fresh and unique with each visit.
“Gallery 7 is probably my favorite because of how often it is changed, and how many different things are exhibited. Usually advanced level classes and grad showcases, but [Gallery 7] also shows some beginner level works, showing just about every side of the art department,” art student Callum White said about the venue.
The Humanities Building’s seventh-floor marvel is often home to pieces smaller in size, such as paintings and sculptures, but on occasion, some larger pieces make an appearance in Gallery 7.
Previously, Master of Fine Arts student Heather McCalla featured an entire Audi car made of wood in Gallery 7.
In addition to Gallery 7, Art Lofts, also features student pieces as the newly renovated home to the Art Department’s sizably larger exhibits and multiple piece displays.
Showcased artworks in Art Lofts range from photography to murals to larger sculpture pieces.
While the loft has a wider variety of pieces, the scale slows down the time it takes the loft to cycle through new pieces. Nonetheless, Art Lofts is still able to rotate new pieces through on a semi-regular basis.
Prior to its time as an arts gallery, Art Lofts served as a university warehouse until 10 years ago when it was remodeled to serve as a hub for arts facilities that were previously scattered across campus.
The loft houses facilities for almost any kind of art creation you can imagine, from ceramics, glass, papermaking and even a bronze foundry.
“I can’t imagine the UW Art Department without the Art Lofts,” art professor Douglas Rosenberg said about the facility. “It serves as a meeting space for faculty and students and as a link to the community outside the campus as well.”
Alongside student created pieces, the Art Lofts’s new “Black Space” gallery also provides a space for accomplished artists from around the country to display works within the gallery.
Through the collective efforts of the arts department, students at UW can benefit from a wide variety of showcase options, thanks to our unique campus galleries.
While integral components in the education of art students, many Badgers outside of the major hardly ever get the chance to visit one.
While underrated now, expect Gallery 7 and Art Lofts to be in the headlines more and more in the future.