Unlike students in other majors, who are writing final papers or studying for exams, art students at UC Santa Cruz are binding photo books and installing paintings for a department-wide gallery known as Open Studios.
The Elena Baskin Visual Arts Center will be transformed into a gallery for a student showcase this Friday from 12-4 p.m. for the quarterly event. Participating in Open Studios is required for most art classes as a portion of students’ final grades in lieu of an exam or paper.
Student work is displayed according to specific art courses and is usually housed by the studio or classroom that supports it. While photography classrooms are lined with photographs on the walls and have tables in the center displaying photo books, the painting studio is decorated with large canvases and couches for viewers sit in the center. Other mediums from the 25 art classes display drawings, sculptures, intermedia, print and electronic art.
“Open Studios is a visible way for our students to show what they are doing; every class from beginning to advanced is showing work,” said photography professor Norman Locks. “We don’t have an official gallery for our department like a theater has a stage for students to do productions or music has a w ay for students to play their music.”
The basic principle of Open Studios is to teach students how to present their ideas for an audience, Locks said. Gallery presentation is the main practice for showing art; Open Studios provides students with the opportunity to become accustomed to the professional process — creation, curation and installation. To become a working artist, Locks said, students must be exposed to the successes and failures that come with showing on a large scale.
“Students have to learn how to finish their ideas,” Locks said. “Part of the practice as an artist is display, exhibition and finish. The resolution and clarifying of our ideas happens when we begin to think about exhibition and putting our work out there.”
Spring quarter additionally features the annual UCSC Student Print Sale, held this Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Room G-101 at the Elena Baskin Visual Arts Printmaking Studio. This event has been running for 43 years as an opportunity for students to sell their work. Print media includes etchings, lithographs, woodcuts, linoleum, digital prints and handmade books.
While most classes require lab fees or textbooks, art students pay material fees and buy supplies. Costs of supplies can get expensive; copper plates for printmaking can range from $15-$130 and print paper rolls cost nearly $150.
“I never could have fathomed before I was an art major how much money I would have spent on paper [and supplies],” said fourth-year printmaker Felix Casey. “Your return is going to be greater than what you put into it, but it is difficult being a student and having to spend $50 on paper every project.”
All profits from the print sale benefit the student artists and 20 percent of the proceeds are returned to the art department’s facilities. Casey is participating in their second print sale and said this event is not only helpful to fund their art but to develop marketing and self-employment skills.
“If you want to be a commercial artist then the print sale is very helpful because it shows you what sells in the commercial market,” Casey said. “The inventory process really helps with keeping track of your stuff […] even though it’s a tedious process sitting there and writing out what every print costs. It’s a good thing to determine the scope of your artwork, what you have done and what it’s worth.”
Casey believes a benefit of printmaking is the ability to produce and sell multiple prints. Last year Casey successfully sold about one-third of their prints. Prints vary in price depending on the size, medium and layering of the print.
The annual print sale and quarterly Open Studios provide numerous opportunities for students to practice skills including curation, marketing and completing the creative process. Third-year photography student Kenny Rapaport said he learned how to present his work to an audience beyond just his ideas.
“You have to think about what your art looks like next to someone else,” Rapaport said. “It’s kind of like you as an artist, and your art as a business.”
Spring Open Studios also includes a senior celebration to honor graduating artists. Rapaport reflected on how the experience of Open Studios has changed for him from his freshman year to now as he advanced in his art studies.
“At first it felt like I had something to prove, I had never really been asked to present my work in such a way,” Rapaport said.“It’s really great to see work from all different disciplines come together and let creativity be on task and artists be highlighted.”