The Duke University Union aims to expose the University community to artwork by students and professional artists through the Louise Jones Brown Gallery located on the upper level of the Bryan Center.
The gallery, run by the DUU Visual Arts Committee, is a space to display artwork that is relevant to the student body and the surrounding community. The exhibits are chosen to reflect the diverse perspectives and backgrounds that constitute the University community.
“What makes it different from the Nasher Museum is that the Brown Gallery is entirely student-run,” sophomore Rebecca Brenner, chair of the Visual Arts Committee, said. “It’s a great space to display artworks that directly relate to students and to introduce students to art."
For each individual exhibit, the committee sends out applications to student artists, and the group votes on who should receive space to show their work. The group also reaches out to professional artists. During the annual Duke Student Art Festival, the Brown Gallery displays original art pieces only from students.
Brenner noted that the organization invites artists to speak when exhibits of their works launch. The committee also fosters connections between students and artists through various workshops, such as the Persian calligraphy event in the Spring.
The works displayed span across a wide range of media including photography, painting and sculptures.
“The Brown Gallery is a great place to share ideas and it’s even better that it’s centrally-located to students, faculty and staff,” said Aaron Canipe, a graduate student in experimental and documentary art.
He noted the importance of artwork in facilitating relationships.
“The best way we can tell about ourselves and relate to one another is through stories and traditions,” Canipe said.
His exhibit “Native Place" depicts Canipe's memories and stories growing up in North Carolina through photographs.
Julia Liu, Trinity '08 and current creative director at a New York studio, said the DUU gallery is an opportunity for artists to gain more publicity.
She has fond memories of creating an exhibit as a student artist of her drawings titled “A Stranger in a Strange Land,” Liu said. Her pieces addressed issues of diversity on campus and the blending of cultures in the United States from her perspective as an Asian American.
Despite its central location and its close relation with student art, some students feel that the gallery is little-known on campus.
The Bryan Center is a place where students go in, grab lunch and go to class, which leaves little time to look carefully at the works displayed, sophomore Miurel Price said.
"To fully appreciate the artworks one needs to know something about the background and the artists,” Price said. “For people who are not very artistically inclined, the paintings don’t speak to them.”
Brenner noted that she plans to promote individual exhibitions more heavily and envisions increased student flow to the gallery.
The gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.