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Chaus launches new art gallery

Coffeehouse hosted a spring art gallery opening Feb. 18 to celebrate the new student art lining the walls of their cafe space. Kelton Keck / Thresher

By Chiara Moretti     2/27/24 11:01pm

Coffeehouse unveiled new art lining the walls of their cafe space on Feb. 18, featuring student artists and photographers. The project is helmed by keepers of coffee Caroline Leung and Kate Hilton, who lead a committee called “Espresso Yourself” that aims to highlight student creativity and art.

Espresso Yourself began accepting submissions from artists during winter break. After selecting which art pieces to showcase, Leung, a Lovett College senior, and Hilton, a McMurtry College junior, revamped the space at Chaus, constructing their display on the left side above the booth seating. According to Leung and Hilton, Chaus is a conducive place for giving artists recognition and honor. 

“We really wanted to choose a place with high traffic and visibility, because we are very understanding and cognizant of the fact that a lot of artists on Rice’s campus don’t have a place to publicly display their art,” Hilton said. “We wanted to give them a voice and a place to do so.”

However, art galleries are not a new concept at Chaus. Having artwork displayed at Chaus has been a tradition for several years, according to Leung and Hilton. They wanted to revive the practice this year after it lapsed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Liliana Abramson, a Jones College senior, said she has always appreciated seeing art displayed at Chaus. According to Abramson, when she first toured campus, the lively artistic community at Coffeehouse encouraged her to come to Rice. After learning through social media that the gallery was accepting submissions this year, she quickly submitted some of her pieces. 

“It’ll be fun to leave a little piece of my work behind for other people to see and hopefully help bring people that same kind of joy of seeing artwork around by other students that I had when I first visited,” Abramson said. 

According to Leung, this event and gallery was successful due to student input and artistic voices. Through artwork, students are able to form a community and find satisfaction in art, she said. 

“It was such a cool feeling to … soak in the atmosphere that we had created … and watch people go up to the art,” Leung said. “Witnessing the fruits of our labor was so rewarding.” 

Angelina Puente-Perez, a Hanszen College junior, said she took inspiration from an anime called “Vinland Saga” to create a color painting, which was displayed in Chaus’ gallery. 

“I just wanted to showcase that [art piece]. I think I did it really well … I’m most proud of that piece,” Puente-Perez, a Hanszen College junior, said. 

Another student, Alara Seeborg, showcased artwork, such as an oil pastel drawing of a meal she had in Turkey, that highlights her cultural background and artistic identity. Though nervous to present her art to an audience, Seeborg said she was eager to display her work. 

“It allowed me to look at artwork that I created in the past in different contexts,” Seeborg, a Brown College freshman, said. “Having it be in a different space was a new experience for me.” 

Leung said she hopes to reestablish the art gallery as the tradition it once was, accepting new submissions every semester. Espresso Yourself is also striving to work with other organizations to help bring awareness to the art community and, in the future, host events such as open mic nights and poetry readings, according to Leung. 

“Espresso Yourself would love to collaborate with other on-campus groups that would want to highlight or showcase any aspects of their own community,” Leung said. 

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