Ask the next student you see about the Fishbowl Gallery, and the response you’re likely to get will be “Fishbowl what?”
Unlike some of the curiosities of NKU which confound students while remaining fully in public view (here’s looking at you ‘Dust Devil’), the student-run art exhibit known as the Fishbowl Gallery is tucked away on the fourth floor of the Fine Arts Building. The attraction is one that anyone without any classes in the art building might never hear about or see.
Kate Helms, a senior photography major and curator for the Fishbowl Gallery, believes that the strange name for the gallery comes from its appearance. “The room was called the fishbowl before the gallery was created and I always assumed it had something to do with the windows. When you are looking through the glass, it’s like watching fish instead of people.”
The gallery itself is a small room with places to sit, tables, and even a stove and sink. Don’t be surprised if the smell of popcorn is heavy in the air – the gallery functions as a spot to hang out or study in between classes, in addition to the art on its walls.
With past exhibits ranging from spotlights on single artists to the “Dame Good Art Show,” an all female artist showcase, the Fishbowl Gallery is entirely run by the student organization known as the Next Generation of Artists. The gallery is open at all times and anyone can submit their art for a show. A jury made up of NGA members then selects pieces that will make the show.
“We’re pretty serious about it too. We look at it critically, just like they would at regular galleries,” said Katie Baker, a junior drawing/painting and English double major.
The advantage of manning a student run gallery is in the real world experience it gives students.
“With a student run gallery, you give the students a chance to display their work as well as teach students how to hang shows,” explains Helms.
“The gallery exists to allow students to get involved in all aspects of exhibition,” adds Joshua White, a senior photography major, and president of NGA, “including submitting work, hanging a show with the help of the gallery committee (made up of NGA members), curating and/or jurying shows, and scheduling.”
“We’re not paid, our professors don’t grade us on it. It could fall apart and nothing would happen to us as students,” explains Baker on the appeal of working for the gallery. “The Fishbowl survives and has a new show in it every three to four weeks because a handful of art students who care about art, who care about showing, and who care about learning and getting other students involve take time to make it work.”
The current show at the gallery features art by Aaron Wood. With a handwritten artist statement containing the line “when it comes to writing i suck,” and handwriting that changes from pen to pencil and from cursive to print, the feel of the exhibit reflects the gallery’s unique nature.
The gallery, which is open all day, was started by Alex Jarman three years ago with the help of professor Kevin Muente, the faculty advisor to the NGA.