For the artistically-inclined, Montreal is a haven teeming with galleries, artist-run spaces, and museums. As a student, whether you’re creating or just appreciating art, the ordinary gallery can sometimes be an alienating, intimidating, or staid place that showcases points of view far from the issues with which the average student grapples. Student-run spaces are an alternative to the gift shops and judgemental gallery assistant gazes of the traditional institution. The unfettered creativity and experimental works found in student spaces create a different atmosphere, one of messy and chaotic imagination, and often, serious political opinions and ideas.
The Fridge Door Gallery is McGill’s own student-run gallery. While the group doesn’t have a permanent space, they show two exhibitions annually, typically in November and March. The Fridge Door provides a creative place on campus for the hidden student artists at our university, and allows those who don’t have the benefit of a fine arts program to express themselves in a public setting. The group also allows for aspiring curators to experience creative collaboration with artists in an open and democratic setting.
The VAV Gallery is a student-run exhibition space for undergraduate artists at Concordia University. The space is democratically run; a student gallery director facilitates programming, rather than specifically curating to their own point of view. The shows are created through a selection process where a group of students organize the applications into thematic groups, ensuring a diverse range of mediums and ideas. The gallery runs programming approximately every two weeks, which guarantees that there’s always a new show to see. Each exhibit at the VAV presents unique ideas, exploring new mediums not often found in traditional institutions, such as media and installation.
The FOFA Gallery is also at Concordia. Showcasing the work of graduate students, FOFA displays the work of artists coming into their own, as opposed to the sometimes chaotic experimentation of the students at the VAV. Exhibits are often developed more conceptually, focusing more specifically on individual artists. The upcoming exhibit opens on September 4, with Pierre Dalpé’s “Personae,” Eliza Griffiths’ “Love, Alienation and Free Association,” and Mariane Bourcheix-Laporte’s “Interstitial Stillness.”
The VAV Gallery, FOFA Gallery and the Fridge Door Gallery offer alternative spaces to traditional institutions like the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal or the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Each space offers a unique vision and an artistic megaphone through which different students can shout their ideas, from those just finding their feet artistically and politically, to those with a clear sense of their creative identity.
With all three spaces so close by, take the time to peek into the thoughts of your peers, and perhaps see your own thoughts reflected back to you.