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Give student artists the space they deserve

By Thresher Editorial Board     9/12/18 1:41am

Ten years ago, visual and dramatic arts professor Chris Sperandio founded Matchbox Gallery out of his old office (see p. 1). A decade later, Matchbox, now Inferno, is the only space on campus solely dedicated to student art. However, student artists and the VADA department need more space to create and display their work.

This is not the first editorial the Thresher has published on the Rice administration’s disregard for student art. Despite the existence of an art museum in the form of the Moody Center on campus, senior VADA students’ art continues to be relegated to small studios in Sewall Hall. Student artists featured in last year’s Art at Rice banners, which hung on lampposts around campus, were never credited for their artwork, despite criticism which included an opinion piece by a former Thresher arts and entertainment editor. 

Even now, the document describing each banner lists student work as “Rice Student Art”, while other works feature artists’ names and the titles of their work. Initiatives like the juiceBOXes, refurbished containers that serve as studios, hang on a funding thread, relying on external grants without an endowment or designated budget. 



The black box theater in the Moody Center, the only space in the building clearly advertised online as available for student artists, requires users to represent “diverse disciplines” — a standard in line with Moody’s “interdisciplinary approach” but unfriendly to productions put on solely by VADA students. Even if a team of students successfully books their production in the black box, no funding is available from the Moody Center, an additional burden to cash-strapped undergraduates. 

The administration should not be lulled into complacency by student and faculty initiatives like Matchbox Gallery, Espresso Yourself and the juiceBOXes. Huge construction projects like the opera house and the new social sciences building are a slap in the face to VADA professors and students who remain confined to tiny spaces across campus. A decade from now, we — along with Sperandio, who began the Matchbox Gallery a decade ago — hope a fine arts building exists on campus that meets the needs of student artists and the VADA department.



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