The artist as entrepreneur: Pop up student art show in Bird Library

Pop up art show logo

More than any other profession, students in the creative industries need to be entrepreneur-ready.  They will spend their professional lives pitching themselves and their creative work.  The Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University loves working with creative entrepreneurs, and a collaborative project takes that to new heights this week.

Through a unique partnership between the Syracuse University School of Art (SoA), the Blackstone LaunchPad and Bird Library, the works of 35 entrepreneurial art students are featured in installations throughout Bird Library from March 6-9.  The students artists call the show, “Art in the Stacks.”

An artists reception on March 7 at 4 p.m. in the LaunchPad will give the community an opportunity to meet the students and hear about their vision for the show, and more about their individual works.

The inspiration for the Pop Up show came from a connection between Stephanie James, director of the SU School of Art, and LaunchPad executive director Linda Dickerson Hartsock.  The two had previously collaborated on a $1 million call for public art in downtown Syracuse along the Connective Corridor.  James was a juror for the project, which was among the largest public art calls in the country.  The call attracted 176 artists from 17 countries, and was curated by a professional jury.  The selected works are being installed this spring.  Already installed is a “Grove of Trees of 40 Fruits” in the front plaza of the Everson Museum by Syracuse artist Sam Van Aken.

James and Hartsock thought it would be interesting for student artists to use the Connective Corridor example as an opportunity to learn more about a public art call, and what goes into creating and curating public art in public spaces.  They teamed with Lesley Pease, head of the Bird Library Learning Commons, to bring the idea to fruition, working with Juan Juarez and Deborah Dohne, faculty for the School of Art’s freshman Foundations class.

Students had a few weeks to conceive and fabricate their work.  Installation was March 6, and most pieces can be found on Learning Commons floors LL-2, with a few on floors 3-5.

Students met with the LaunchPad – Library staff to evaluate areas in Bird Library to create their site-specific works.  They created proposals, and vision statements, and went through a curation process, just like a professional call.  They pitched their ideas to Hartsock and Pease, got feedback, and then went through a secondary review process by Library staff.

Their work will be in place for just three days, and will be critiqued by faculty and class peers.  Artist statements are also on view, explaining the theme and narrative elements of each piece.

Producing the Pop Up show in Bird Library provided students with a realistic experience of the public art process. They learned how to successfully and safely install works in a heavily used space that was not designed to be a gallery, and to work within building realities and rules.  For example, they had to confront limited access to power, no noise that would disturb study, and bright lighting that made projections an interesting challenge.  The students did an extremely creative job working around those challenges, and library patrons are enjoying “Eureka” moments encountering “Art in the Stacks.”

The show can be enjoyed the 24 hours a day that Bird Library is open March 6-9.

“I love seeing the variety of styles and ideas of the artists,” says School of Art faculty member Deborah Dohne.  “The work really comes alive in this public space. The great thing is that the art covers so many genres, and mirrors the many subjects that are here in the library.  Each work of art has a thematic counterpart located in a book somewhere in the stacks – whether it is a work of research or nonfiction.”

There is no doubt that artists, entrepreneurs, and the creative economy are inextricably linked.  This week, you will find them all in place at Bird Library.

Check Facebook:  @LaunchPadSYR for photos of the show.