Barrett Art Gallery still without art this semester

The Barrett Art Gallery has been converted into an office space for the time being.

The Tangerine

The Barrett Art Gallery has been converted into an office space for the time being.

Mickale Thompson, Staff Writer

When students returned to Utica College’s campus for the Fall 2020 semester, the Edith Barrett Fine Arts Gallery had been converted into office space. It remains that way at the start of the 2021 semester, causing some to wonder when it will be reverted back into an art gallery.

The college confirmed that the gallery will not return this academic year and the Purchasing and Accounts Payable Office will vacate the gallery space in November. However, a gallery director has not been hired and there are no plans to do so during this academic year. 

“Outside exhibitions, at least the premiere ones that are held in the gallery, take many months to plan,” Dean of Arts and Sciences Sharon Wise said. “Since we don’t have a gallery director currently, and because we are restricted for the foreseeable future to smaller gatherings and restricted travel and guests, we have no plans for exhibitions this year.”

Megan Austin, the last art gallery director, resigned in 2019 prior to the campus transitioning to online learning due to the pandemic. The college was locked down through much of the spring and summer, and in the summer it was clear that the following school year would not have large gatherings or external visitors, Wise said.

 “At this point, the decision was made to wait on hiring a gallery director until COVID-19 allowed for normal operations in the gallery,” Wise said. 

According to Jason Denman, Associate Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences and professor of English, the department is lobbying to hire someone who would run the gallery and teach in the visual arts.

“We were very, very close to hiring someone to do this in spring of 2020, but the budgetary crisis surrounding COVID-19 destroyed that plan and cost us valuable momentum,” Denman said.

He added that visual arts have, for some time now, lacked a full-time advocate as the gallery director position remains vacant. 

The gallery first opened its doors in 1980. Since then, it has been the place to display exhibitions showcasing the works of various artists.

“The Barrett Art Gallery is the center of the visual arts on campus and it has been a rich site of visual arts learning and immersive experiences.”