Winter 2018 - Articles

The Hidden Jewel of Toomer’s Corner

By December 3, 2018 No Comments
The Hidden Jewel of Toomer's Corner

The Biggin Hall Gallery is the hidden jewel of Toomer’s Corner. Hosting artists from across the globe, this intimate gallery on the first floor of Biggin Hall boasts artwork and a message that are larger than the physical dimensions of the space itself.

A curated space that functions as a free resource for all members of the Auburn community to explore new art, as well as a professionalization tool for Auburn students seeking to earn their art or art history degree, the gallery brings established artists, professors, students and the larger Auburn community into a shared space to appreciate art.

Open every weekday from 7:45 a.m. until 4:45 p.m. and free to the public, the gallery this year will feature nine diverse exhibitions beginning in early September 2018 and ending in late August 2019. Six of these exhibitions feature the artwork of one or more visiting artists, while three exhibitions are reserved for student work.

One of Justin Quinn's paintings

The process of choosing artists to feature in the gallery is no simple task. Almut Haboeck, the gallery and lectures coordinator for the department of art and art history, considers not only the needs of Auburn art students, but also factors such as course content in art classes, recommendations of art professors and interests of the community at large.

The gallery’s focus on diversity extends not only to the medium of the art, but in the age, geographic location, gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic status of the artists themselves. Haboeck notes that in regards to planning, a “mixture of [herself], collaborations with fellow professors and planning with the community” is necessary to bring successful and meaningful exhibition programs each year.

The season’s first exhibit, “Companionless Objects: Works” by Emily Bivens features multi-modal renderings of nature that question the relationship between life and death. An upcoming exhibit this year, “The Games People Play” by Debra L. Dieppa, is part of a collaboration with DisArt, a nonprofit organization that focuses on “expressions of Disabled cultural identity” to create a society that “enjoys the full and equitable participation of all people,” said Haboeck. Yet another exhibit this year works with the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project to exhibit artwork of incarcerated students.

As Haboeck passionately points out: “There are artists possible on many different levels, from many different directions. [It’s important] because it’s your neighbor. It is the person next to you.” The emphasis on diversity from visiting artists allows Auburn students and community members to explore life from different perspectives.

Each exhibition opens with a reception, where the artist discusses their work and guests can speak with the artist one-on-one. Some artists — such as Justin Quinn, whose exhibition “I Think About the Future More Than I Did In the Past” is forthcoming this fall — offer workshops for classes working within a similar medium, allowing students to have direct instruction from the visiting artist.

These opportunities give students exposure to new approaches, as well as examples of how other artists have begun their own careers in their field.

Student artists also utilize the gallery space for their own exhibitions: The BFA Candidates Senior Project Exhibition occurs each fall and spring semester, along with the annual Juried Fine Art Exhibition. Senior Project Exhibitions allow graduating seniors pursuing art degrees to exhibit the artwork they have curated as part of their senior thesis and to gain real-life experience putting together an exhibition for a gallery.

The Juried Fine Art Exhibition offers all art students the opportunity to submit artwork that could be part of the exhibit. Selected works are not only part of the exhibit itself but are also eligible for numerous awards, such as the Dean’s Choice Purchase Award, the James E. Furr Award for Excellence in Innovation and more.

One of Justin Quinn's paintings