University isn’t just about education. It’s a meeting place, a chance for both new students and old hands to make connections and engage with communities they haven’t experienced before.
True to that sense of community is Gallery 1C03, the University of Winnipeg’s (U of W) official art gallery. The centrally located gallery, next to the UWSA Info Booth, is an ideal venue for students to experience visual art on campus.
“It’s a really easy way to expose people to visual art when they might not have been before,” director and curator Jennifer Gibson, who’s been with Gallery 1C03 since 1998, says.
“We’ve had people come into the space saying they’ve never been to an art gallery before. So this may be their first point of exposure to a public art gallery, which is pretty amazing.”
That’s not to say Gallery 1C03 is merely an intro-level gallery. Founded in 1986, 1C03 displays contemporary works by visual artists on the cutting edge of their respective media. They’re deeply involved in Winnipeg’s fine art community, collaborating with other art institutions to showcase a diverse roster of artists.
The gallery’s main project this fall is a partnership with poetry and critical writing magazine Contemporary Verse 2 (CV2). The project, called A Putting Down of Roots, is guest curated by CV2 director Clarise Foster and independent curator Keegan McFadden. Eight artists will present works that use or explore text.
“We’ll also be presenting archival materials from CV2 and having a reading space in the exhibition,” Gibson says. “It’s a great example of how interdisciplinarity plays out in the gallery. There’s a lot of encouragement in academe still for interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary study. I think the gallery does that really well because we can connect to these different programs of study.”
That collaborative, interdisciplinary approach is a conscious courting of the communal environment at the U of W.
“Our primary audience is the university community,” Gibson says. “Students, staff, faculty and, of course, the general public. We want to have exhibition programming that somehow links into the educational mandate of the university.”
“So if the exhibitions and programming that we present can connect to curricular studies, that’s fantastic. We want faculty actually bringing classes into the gallery and having discussions about the work and how it might relate to what people are studying.”
In addition to showcasing new work by professional artists, 1C03 also preserves and presents the university’s art collection. An archive of roughly 1,200 pieces, the university collection focuses mostly on contemporary 20th century work by Manitoba artists. However, the roots of the collection go back further.
“The university holds things such as portraits of founding presidents and principals,” Gibson explains. “One of the oldest pieces in our collection is a large stained glass window (titled Theology) that was recently restored. It’s by the British artist Henry Holiday and was commissioned by the first principal of Manitoba College in 1892.”
The gallery will host a public unveiling of this restored window this fall.