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Gravis has worked at WSU for the last six-and-a-half years as the Visual Arts Outreach Manager. She applied for the gallery director position in January and was named to the position on May 15.
The Shaw Gallery featured “Saltworks” artist Motoi Yamamoto last year in addition to several other artists and WSU student exhibitions. The mission of the Shaw Gallery, according to its website, is to house and provide public access to contemporary art in addition to “aspiring to engage a diverse audience, create a sense of community, provide insight into the creative process and challenge visitors to contemplate, discuss and understand the historical, social and cultural context of contemporary art.”
Gravis, who graduated with her Master of Fine Arts from the Art Institute of Boston, said community and student involvement will be a major focus of her work as director.
“I’m really invested in community connection between (Ogden and) the university. I think that’s pretty exciting; I’d like to be a part of that,” Gravis said. “I want to get more people who are not art students or art professors over here to experience the gallery.”
Gravis said there are three tiers to her plan for increased involvement. The first tier aims to increase art students’ access to and utilization of the Shaw. Gravis hopes that by giving students the opportunity to help curate or have more shows in a gallery setting they will be better prepared for finding employment after they graduate from WSU.
The second tier focuses on increased attendance and engagement from the students on the main WSU campus. “Maybe a lot of people walk by and have never set foot in the building,” Gravis said. Her plan to change that would include lunchtime events to increase awareness of the Shaw.
The final and third tier is targeted at the larger Ogden community. “(Shaw) is kind of a well-kept secret as far as community members go,” Gravis said. “I’d like to make contact with local business owners and city leaders to increase community attendance at our events.”
Gravis said she is excited for the chance to curate the gallery. “I’m thrilled about the opportunity to take on this new role and be involved in the arts on campus and with the broader community.”
However, Gravis said of her old position as Visual Art Outreach Manager that she would miss the direct interaction with the kids and community members.
The Biennial Faculty Exhibition is the first event Gravis will be in charge of at the Shaw. The event doesn’t begin until September 5, but Gravis is already looking forward to it. “The faculty exhibition is exciting because it gives students and the public a chance to see the studio practice of our faculty,” Gravis said. “Because it is usually the other way around it’s good for the students to see the art that their faculty is involved in creating.”
Gravis hopes that during her time as director she can accomplish her goals of involvement and a focus on academics via increased student opportunity.