A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit down with Kathryn Wieldraayer, the Chapel Department’s Administrative Assistant and Covenant Alumnus, to hear about the department’s new practice of renting student art for their office space.
Though the Chapel Department is still working on figuring out the exact details of their art rental program for future semesters, the basic principles will remain the same. The department is hoping to rent a new piece or series of pieces made by a Covenant student each semester. In exchange for allowing their work to be displayed in the chapel office, the student will receive either a small stipend, or, if their work has yet to be framed, funds to go towards the framing, matting, and displaying of their work — an excellent investment for a student in order to protect and prepare their piece(s) to be displayed.
The Art Club has been the contact point for the Chapel Department to find students interested in the program. Any students who would consider having their work on display in the future should sign up for Art Club emails and watch for more information.
Wieldraayer and Chaplain Lowe came up with the idea of displaying student art after moving into the Chapel Department’s new offices on the first floor of Carter at the beginning of the school year. The department bought new furniture and made the office a cozy space, but one wall, specifically the wall Wieldraayer faces all day, was left bare. Wieldraayer and Chaplain Lowe decided that they wanted to find artwork for the wall. They then realized that a rotating gallery of student artwork would be an amazing use of the space.
This program is mutually beneficial for the office and the students selected. Wieldraayer said that the rentals benefit the office by giving them something fascinating in their space to look at throughout the work week. It benefits the students first by helping ensure that their work is prepared to be displayed and preserved, and second, by giving them a chance to share their work outside of the classroom.
Wieldraayer graduated from Covenant College as an art major, and she observed that, “You just don’t have a lot of opportunities, other than your senior show and your SIP, to hang [your art] in a professional way.” The Chapel Department hopes that renting out students’ pieces will be a way for the students to have their work seen by people outside of Covenant’s art program.
When asked what types of artwork the office might be looking to rent next or if there are any specific features they are looking for, Wieldraayer said there is not a specific set of requirements determining the pieces they select. Currently, senior art major Abi Ogle’s painting “Pattern Palooza” (oil on paper) is being rented by the Chapel Department for the remainder of the year. This piece was chosen for its large size, intricacy, and for the color it brings to the office’s neutral color palette. Wieldraayer noted that the art does not have to have explicitly faith-related content to be chosen, though that is certainly welcome.
Looking forward, Wieldraayer mentioned that later this school year the Chapel Department might rent a series of photographs, for example, and display them on another wall in the office along with the piece currently on display. They will be looking to fill the large wall space with new artwork in the Fall semester of 2018.
Another exciting development is that the Chapel Department has started having conversations about liturgical art to be displayed in the Chapel itself. While this project is still in the works, Wieldraayer said that the department is interested in displaying worshipful art in some form or another as a part of the student body’s chapel experience, sometime in the Spring semester.
It is an exciting time to be interested in art at Covenant. For those of us who make art and are looking to gain greater visibility in order to start conversations, the Chapel Department is looking like it will be an excellent ally in the coming years.