The bright purple walls of Le Ronj’s lounge looked especially vibrant on the evening of April 22. Each corner of the octagonal space was decked with pieces of student-made art, ranging from photography to portraiture to digital video. Thanks to The Bates Arts Society, students were able to witness the diverse talents of their peers through a themed gallery event.
While typical visualizations of art galleries may bring to mind sophisticated gatherings and rigid themes, the Ronj Art Gallery event directly challenged this notion, encouraging participants from all artistic backgrounds and levels to submit their work. A guiding principle on the submission flyer was to “just get crazy, get weird, get psychedelic.”
The Art Society provided three guiding themes for students sending in submissions, which included the “Colors of Nature,” “Maine in Spring,” and “Dreams.” Students were given full creative license to interpret these themes however they pleased, or to abandon the themes entirely and go their own way with their work.
Fifteen students submitted their artwork, creating an expressive array of varying mediums, styles, and messages. Head of Bates Arts Society Nick Charde ‘22 noted that an additional goal of the event was to honor and celebrate Bates artists in person, an opportunity previously stripped away by COVID-19 restrictions.
“As an artist during Covid, it can be very hard to promote work because everything is virtual, so the gallery was intended to provide a non-virtual platform for artists to display their work to the Bates community,” shared Charde.
For some, the event was their first time showing their work in a public, show-like setting. The Student’s own Najá Crockett ‘23, who began practicing drawing about a year ago and sharing on his art instagram was excited to have a physical space to share his work. He made two 18×24 portraits specifically for this gallery, which were loosely inspired by the “Colors of Nature” theme.
The portraits featured abstract pastel work, vibrant hues, and imposed images. “I’ve shown my art on instagram, so I know people know my style and recognize the things I like to draw, but hearing people come up with thoughts and discuss it in person was so surreal,” reflected Crockett. Both of his pieces were left untitled.
Another artist, Ollie Penner ‘22, specialized in other mediums for his work. Penner featured two graphic design prints, both of which were chromatic and visually intriguing examples of abstract work. His two graphic prints embodied sights from Maine, incorporating imagery from both natural and urban environments. His first piece, titled “44.099643, -70.224344,” stitched together photos from Lewiston-Auburn’s Great Falls, Auburn Housing Authority, and Higgins Beach. His second work, “Tree Sponge Shizzwizz,” featured two visually similar photos taken on Mount David that were overlaid to create an otherworldly silhouette of the peak’s treeline.
Seeing art made by fellow peers in a physical space was a reminder of the important role that art plays in creating community. Whether it was through the featured artists’ inventive interpretations of the world around them or through the clusters of students admiring their work, the Le Ronj Art Gallery night was a magical moment of connection over creativity.
The artists mentioned above are but a few examples of the talented students that shared in Le Ronj Art Gallery. To see more from Bates artists, check out the Bates Arts Society’s official website, or follow their instagram.