Ruth Kehinde, Katie Peters and Claire Crittendon– Digital Editor, Arts Editor & Features Editor
Lasell offers more than 60 academic programs, allowing students to choose from 42 majors and 38 minors. However, professional arts majors aren’t offered anymore, having only one art minor for students to choose from. The arts management program opened around 2014 but then closed within the years proceeding until the last two students graduated with an arts management major last spring. Since then, the arts management program’s spirit has been kept alive within the Wedeman Gallery that’s located on the second floor of Yamawaki.
The Wedeman Gallery is a two-story exhibition area filled with student involvement content that ranges from various pieces of art within multiple themes, having various concepts for students, staff and faculty to come and see based on their interest. Traveling exhibitions and work from artists outside the Lasell community are also common in the gallery. However, the gallery hasn’t necessarily gotten that much attention from other Lasers that aren’t involved in the arts unless there’s an announced showcase.
Wedeman Gallery Director and Associate Professor of Art Vladimir Zimakov says the gallery “was established to support the educational extracurricular programs of Lasell University and Lasell Village through artistic and cultural activities designed for all members and friends of the [broadest] university community.” Zimakov has been the gallery director for the past six years, taking over from retired professor Richard Bath.
According to Zimakov, the prime years of student involvement in the gallery were from 2014 until last spring. As a part of their curriculum, the students in the arts management program would have to curate an exhibition to be displayed in the Wedeman Gallery. The artist’s receptions for these shows brought students from all over campus to the gallery to support their friends and classmates.
“When we had arts management as a major, at the end of every year, the students had to do a practicum capstone and usually it involved some kind of art exhibit,” said Assistant Professor of Art and Graphic Design Deborah Baldizar. “We saw the numbers go up when they would hold their exhibits, their friends and other students would come. This is the first year that we don’t have that.”
The last chance for anyone to enter into the arts management program at Lasell was in 2016. The program continued until the spring of 2018 to allow students in the program to finish their degree. One major factor that contributed to this major being eliminated from the course catalog was the lack of students applying for this major at Lasell. Only two students graduated from this program in its last year.
Despite the lack of official majors, there are still other opportunities for students to get involved in the gallery. The Wedeman Gallery employs four to five students each semester to look after the artwork when the gallery is open to the public. Students involved in some of the Art Knowledge Perspectives classes have the opportunity to study how a gallery operates or have their work showcased in the annual Student Art Exhibition.
“If the students are interested in curatorial work, gallery work and museum work, I’d be happy to…see if we can offer them a spot doing the gallery work or to be involved with installing the shows and curating the shows,” says Zimakov.
Although students can take the wheel of how the Wedeman’s gallery shows go, student involvement seems to be the only thing that’s keeping the art aspect of Lasell alive; however, it can only go on for so long. The determination of the majority of the features that Lasell offers for students primarily is based on the exposure it gets and whether or not it’s in high demand.
Baldizar, who feels very strongly about the future of the Gallery and its benefit to all students, not just those in creative fields, said, “My philosophy is that we’re all creative people. And no matter what your degree is, it’s important to explore that side of yourself at some point in your life.”
When asked if the Wedeman Gallery will still exist in 10 years, senior Skylar Diamond said, “In ten years, my heart would like to say hopefully it’s there just because art is an important medium that I think deserves to be celebrated no matter whom or how old it is.”
“Things that involve more of the ‘artistic’ direction of a career have always been looked at as a way to not really make a lot of money, to not be the big contenders, to set yourself up for life as far as being financially stable…its [art] just always been regarded as something that is ‘brave’ of someone because of the fact of prioritizing a passion of theirs versus looking for a way to set themselves up financially,” said Diamond.