On Tuesday, Sept. 5, Barry Hall saw a wave of excited students, faculty and staff enter its hallowed halls for the opening reception of a permanent exhibit in Beaton Atrium.
The exhibition is part of a collaboration between the College of Business and the Visual Arts Department at NDSU. Scott Beaulier, dean of the College of Business, initiated the conversation.
Beaulier, who came on as dean last year, was looking for art to cover the plentiful brown walls in Barry. Beaulier approached Dr. Michael Strand, visual arts department head, looking for ideas with what to do with the space. Strand immediately thought of Dr. Meghan Kirkwood, assistant professor in photography.
“This was a semester long project that started out of conversations in the fall,” Kirkwood said at the reception Tuesday evening. “I had an advanced photography class that was working in the dark room last semester.”
The challenge of the project was really in the parameters the students were faced with. Not only did they have to work with a time consuming and frustrating medium, but they also had to create work specifically curated for Barry Hall students, faculty and staff.
“It started out with the students designing a survey that was distributed to business faculty, business students and business staff, to ask them, ‘What sorts of pictures do you like? What’s meaningful to you about Fargo-Moorhead, the place the business college is in? What do you think the values are for the business college? What sorts of things do you want to see expressed in this?'” Kirkwood explained. “The students wanted to enjoy the pictures themselves, but it was very important to them that it be meaningful to the community they were being situated in. We got a bunch of data back, then the students each interpreted it in a different way.”
The results were seven different students, all working on five different projects, creating unique images that represented the values of the people of the College of Business.
“As you move throughout the spaces, you see images that are very different from each other which I think is a strength of the project,” Kirkwood said.
Kelsey Hanson, a senior art major with a photo emphasis and a business minor, was one of the students who participated in the project. The exhibit features ten of Hanson’s works, all on the main wall of the Beaton Atrium.
Hanson chose to focus on key landmarks in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Her photos contain the Fargo Theatre sign, Island Park and the Hjemkomst Center.
This exhibit allowed Hanson to connect the two departments she represents — visual arts and business — in a medium she loves, while also giving her the ability to display her work in a professional capacity.
“It was fun to do almost a professional display versus school projects,” she explained. “On school projects, you just kind of get them done. You do them the best that you can, but it’s just like, okay, ‘I just have to get them done.’ Where this is like, ‘No, this is going on a wall, this is going to be displayed permanently.’ Having that in mind, this is a professional thing; I really liked that. It pushes you a lot further.”
Like Hanson, Amber Hall, a senior in fine arts with a drawing emphasis, never had the ability to display her work professionally before the exhibit.
“I’ve never had my work in a gallery before,” she said. “I’ve had it in a couple of fairs, but it’s always gone down. But now that people are actually looking at it forever, it’s just like, ‘Wow.’ It’s kind of cool, yet it’s weird at the same time. I’ve never experienced this, it’s kind of nice.”
Hall used nature as the focus of her pieces, emphasizing the details of the natural world around us.
“I’m more of a natural person,” she explained. “I see buildings every day. I’m personally sick of seeing buildings, so that’s why I went to parks to take pictures. I think the beauty of nature is nice. It’s nice to get away from town and see what’s outside town.”
Other students who participated in the exhibit were: Derek Hatzenbuhler, Hannah Jessen, Kaitlin Ridl, Breanna Thompson and Emily Beaman.
“The result is spectacular in terms of these great black and whites that capture various aspects of Fargo, that capture Barry Hall in some of them,” Beaulier said of the exhibit at the opening reception. “It offers this vibe of space that is for business students that collaborates with the rest of the university, which is a goal of our college, is to come together and be a partner with other colleges downtown, with other departments, and what a great way to show off what we’re trying to do in the college of business.”
Kirkwood agreed, affirming that projects like these are a “model for working together that benefit the student experience and create communal awareness.”
The exhibit is currently on display throughout Beaton Atrium at Barry Hall in downtown Fargo. For more information on the exhibit, visit the College of Business website.