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Independent student art exhibition space threatened

By Brian Passeri
On March 9, 2014

This Sunday, 6th semester UConn student Julianne Norton showed her independent art exhibit at the Benton Beanery.
The exhibit, titled in Hebrew with an English translation, "to stitch, to echo" consists of five pieces, which were created using a variety of tools, including acrylics, ink and pen.
The title refers to the purpose of the exhibit as well as the inspiration behind it. Norton lists her mother's embroidery as well as wood knots, water ripples and fingerprints as various influences in her work, saying that she finds peacefulness in organic repetition.
As an international relations major, much of Norton's academic work is dedicated to postmemory, which she describes as the imaginative recreation of memory by generations descending from those impacted by cultural or collective trauma. Each piece includes an original poem that offers the viewer a framework with which to interpret the relatively abstract works.
Although she was happy to be able to display her work at the Beanery, Norton expressed her discontentment with the fact that she may be one of the last student artists to be able to do so.
"One of the reasons I went for this space is because it's a really great opportunity for students to be able to show their own original work," said Norton. "It's a really valuable space because it is one of the only places on campus that offers support for student artists, which is so important."
6th semester marketing major Lucas Lee, who curated the event, added to this, saying, "It's really great to see student work on the Benton wall, but with Dining Services taking control of the Beanery next year, I'm not sure if the tradition will be able to continue."
Many of the guests seem to agree with this sentiment.
"It's good to see a student artist have the opportunity to display their work as if it were in a museum." Sara Georgas, a 2nd semester art major said. "Most of the time the Benton displays professional artists upstairs, so it's great to see that they have a space dedicated to student work."
Norton also explained that the student gallery in the Student Union, the only other place on campus where UConn students can exhibit their work, is also in danger of being eradicated, and even now is a poor venue for artists, as it is out of the way on the third floor and is often dedicated to use by the cultural centers.
"What's great about the Beanery wall is that other students can stop by and look at the work while they get a coffee," said Norton, "and it's really one of the only ways for UConn students to be able to interact with the art community."
Although it debuted on Sunday, the exhibit will be up and available for viewing through March and into early April.

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