Culture  Art for our sake

Fridge Door Gallery celebrates McGill student art at their fall vernissage.

Tomorrow night, be prepared for something a little less…concrete when stepping into Leacock building. From six to nine p.m. in Leacock 111, student artwork will adorn the walls, sending a tiny pulse of creativity up the building’s ten stories of load-bearing cement panels, and defying the notion that fine arts do not exist at McGill University.

Now in its fourth incarnation, McGill’s Fridge Door Gallery will display works by 25 student artists at their fall vernissage. The gallery is the project of a group of spirited Art History students, who organize and curate an exhibit every semester. Executive club members Marina La Verghetta, Andie Reid, and François Macdonald want to make clear that although McGill doesn’t have a fine arts program, students are still creating their own artwork. Fridge Door’s mission is to give these students a chance to show what they produce. Besides, for these future curators, “It’s a good chance to play avatar,” says Macdonald.

Since their first vernissage in March 2007, the gallery has blossomed. This year, Fridge Door received 140 submissions, as opposed to last year’s 40, with submissions extending beyond the faculty of Arts. Last year, the gallery was granted a permanent space in Leacock 111 – a small room that provides an intimate setting for art viewing.

This semester, Fridge Door aimed to be more inclusive. “We were afraid that people were getting the impression that we were elitists in some way,” says La Verghetta, “but I think that’s just because we started out so small.” To prevent exclusivity, the Fridge Door Gallery set their street team on the loose; a group of volunteers who help with visibility and art handling, and who have a say in the final selection process. Together, the execs and the street team go through slides of all the submissions, choosing the final 25 by an autonomous vote of “yes, no, or maybe.”

Because of the reoccurring motif of portraits and body-related art in this year’s submissions, the board decided to theme the upcoming vernissage “Some of Their Parts,” a clever play on words that the three execs seemed very pleased with. By choosing a theme after receiving submissions, the gallery does not limit any student-artist’s chance of being selected – this is important to Fridge Door’s goal of all-inclusiveness. The process is described by La Verghetta as being more organic and more interesting than assigning a theme.

Next year will witness Fridge Door’s first test of endurance, as Macdonald, La Verghetta, and Reid graduate, passing the reins to their street team trainees. Reid isn’t worried, as she says her successors seem up for the challenge. Aside from hoping to solve the ongoing issue of inadequate funding, Fridge Door’s aspirations are modest. “We just want to survive,” says Macdonald as the other two execs nod in agreement. The Fridge Door Gallery would like to become a permanent fixture at McGill rather than simply a “cool thing that’s happening.”

Tomorrow night, be sure to stop by the Fridge Door Gallery, and do your part to encourage student art. Like all classy McGill events, there will be wine and there will be cheese. But the Fridge Door also has live music! Bodies, a band whose name is gloriously and coincidentally in line with the exhibit’s theme, will be playing to enhance your viewing experience. And hey, don’t be cheap. Help the Fridge Door Gallery in their dream to stay afloat, by donating a twoonie to the cause. You – Daily reader, art appreciator, wine-and-cheese-event drifter – I will see you there.

Fridge Door’s vernissage takes place tomorrow (November 11) in Leacock 111. Suggested donation $2.