Weekend Life Council hosted its first pop-up art gallery on Saturday night, March 25, in the Student Activities Center Ballroom B to showcase student-produced artwork and musical performances.
“Forty years ago, Stony Brook was much more heavily geared towards math and sciences,” Sui-Fan Yung, a Stony Brook alumna from the class of 1976, said. “It’s really great to see more opportunities for artists here now. We have very talented artists here tonight, it almost looks professional.”
Twenty people were already lined up outside before the event started.
“I usually show up 15 to 30 minutes prior to their events,” Hing Li, a freshman history and economics major, said. “But one time I showed up early and still had to be turned away, so I tried to come really early this time.”
Once the doors opened, soft acoustic music and the aroma of complimentary hors d’oeuvres greeted attendees. At the same time, eyes could feast on sculpture, photography, digital art and paintings that filled up more than half the ballroom.
“We got a lot more art than we expected, so some of the art is not on show, which is crazy,” Dana Espine, a junior philosophy major and graphic designer for Weekend Life Council, said. This art gallery was the brainchild of Espine and fellow Weekend Life Council staff member, Mei Pan, a junior applied math and statistics major.
Pan drew inspiration from an art gallery she attended where one of the artist’s works had a paper next to it where viewers could write down their own interpretations of the piece.
“When people think of an art gallery, they might think it’s really boring,” Pan said. “So I wanted to add interactive aspects to it.”
Instead of only observing the artworks, students could also make their own by contributing to a banner titled “Draw What Art Means to You!” Those who attended were also given sticky notes and markers to attach comments to the artworks. Several of the artists walked around the ballroom and were able to read the comments on their own works.
“Art is my life,” Juanwen Liu, a sophomore studio art major also minoring in creative writing and theater, said. “Often when people talk about the major they are pursuing and the work they put into it, it sounds like torture. But for me, it only brings me joy. Art drives me forward.”
Although the Weekend Life Council could only feature a limited number of works, five of Liu’s portraits and one landscape made it to display, the most from any artist featured that night. Liu said her style includes vivid, various, and sometimes excessive colors.
Athena Jacob, one of the models for Liu’s paintings and a sophomore studying psychology and higher education, attended the event in support. Jacob sat for the portrait for over fifteen hours over the course of about three weeks.
“After I saw [Liu’s] work, it was easy to say yes to her,” Jacob said. “I definitely wanted to be painted.”
Later in the night, students showcased their talents with live acoustic performances. The lineup included The Pipettes, Taqrim Sayed and Kevin An, and Alejandro Flores.
“It’s a way to take people on a journey that I go on,” Flores, a junior multidisciplinary studies major, said about his passion for music. “It helps people understand my life and hopefully their own lives more.”
Throughout the night, around 90 people attended to view the art on display. This pop-up art gallery was the first, but it may not be the last. Rebecca Seifter, the council’s graduate assistant, said that the organization would definitely be interested in hosting one again next year.