The Lehigh University Art Galleries (LUAG) created its first student committee this semester in which students have more contact with the LUAG and the overall arts community at Lehigh. The LUAG Student Advisory Committee aims to increase student awareness and involvement in making the LUAG a staple element of their overall student experience.
LUAG Director William Crow began his role at Lehigh in August 2018 and since then has emphasized the importance of student engagement in the arts community.
“(Crow) thought it would be great to have students share their opinions and have one-on-one conversations with the staff here,” said Alexandria Wismer, LUAG social media and department coordinator. “We want to pick students’ brains on what they want to see.”
The LUAG Student Advisory Committee is an unprecedented endeavor. Prior to its creation, there was no real sounding board bridging students to LUAG faculty and staff.
During meetings, the committee discusses galleries, exhibitions and marketing strategies in a fairly open forum, and welcome all Lehigh students. The conversations are mainly centered around creating ways to get more students involved and creating ways the gallery can become more prominent in student life.
Matthew Fainor, ’20, is a member of the Student Advisory Committee and has been involved with the LUAG throughout his entire Lehigh career. Fainor works at the reception desk in the main gallery and volunteers in collections management. Due to his involvement, joining the committee was a natural next step.
“We really want more classes to become part of the gallery system,” Fainor said. “Not specifically to any type of class, but coming through the gallery to see things that engage with subject material and reflect with the classwork.”
The committee also has long-term goals for better student engagement. Wismer said the group wants to create projects that they think students would be interested in and want to be a part of.
The group has discussed creating a study space within the galleries as well as creating events centered around student interests.
“We really want the students on campus to be aware we are here from the minute they step on campus and realize they have a stake in the gallery here,” Wismer said.
Alexa Nunamaker, ’20, is another member of the committee. Because she is studying art history, museum studies and gallery exhibits are an important part of her collegiate experience.
She said marketing and outreach has been a major topic of conversation in committee meetings.
“In our meetings we look at ways to get students, faculty and the community more involved in the gallery and how to raise attendance through potential events and social media,” Nunamker said.
The committee wants to stress is how the committee and galleries as a whole are meant for all students to be part of, regardless of their major or extracurricular involvement.
Similarly, there are students who are involved in one aspect of Zoellner Arts Center, but aren’t as aware of the LUAG itself.
“Its an issue of wrangling the population of students who are in Zoellner but never coming into the galleries,” said Fainor.
Because of these concerns, the committee sees it as crucial to get as much student input as possible from all across campus. The group hopes to create student ambassadors to promote the committee’s goal, LUAG and the arts at Lehigh, Fainor said.
The committee meets once a month in the Lower Gallery of the LUAG in Zoellner from 12:10-1 p.m.