During Ithaca College’s remote semester in Fall 2020, the Handwerker Gallery could not provide students with the in-person art viewing experiences that so many appreciated. With students on campus for Spring 2021, the Handwerker is preparing for gallery-goers to return to the space.
The gallery will be featuring two exhibitions, running from Feb. 24 to April 9. “Do it (home),” curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, will offer an interactive aspect. The exhibit encourages viewers to enter the artists’ world by following a set of instructions the artist created. “A CLOSER LOOK” will feature work from 13 artists who were originally part of a permanent art collection created for the college between 1963 and 1972. This revived exhibition pulls works from the collection that have relevance within the context of the events of this past year.
When it was announced that the fall semester would be completely remote, Mara Baldwin, director of the Handwerker Gallery, adapted the gallery to be accessible virtually. The virtual exhibitions featured 360-degree virtual scroll photographs that gave viewers a detailed view of each exhibition as if they were walking through the gallery.
Now, with students on campus for the spring semester, Baldwin is looking forward to bringing the traditional in-person experience back to the gallery.
“I hope that people are able to find some joy and insight in experiencing the gallery and doing something that seems more normal,” Baldwin said. “I think that’s why so many students came back this semester, because of the desire for access. And, you know, intimacy, like being in space with others, even with the constraints that we have to work around to be safe.”
Like many other galleries have done during the pandemic, the Handwerker Gallery will be sharing a portion of the show on its social media accounts. Each day, the gallery’s social media accounts will feature a set of instructions from the artists of the “do it (home)” exhibition. Virtual galleries will also be available for both exhibitions on the Handwerker’s website.
Senior Carly Hough, a Handwerker Gallery monitor, said they are looking forward to getting back into the gallery space.
“I love working there,” Hough said. “I really love the location of the gallery because I feel like I see a lot of people when I work, and I really miss having events there and getting to work with artists.”
Hough said they hope students who have not been into the gallery will take the opportunity to go in.
“I think that sometimes people are a little intimidated by the gallery, like not sure what it is and not sure if you have to pay to go in,” Hough said. “So I hope that people who haven’t been in before will be like, ‘This is an opportunity I should really take to go see some art.’ And I hope that it can be like a way for people to de-stress.”
The gallery will be adhering to the COVID-19 safety regulations that the college has put in place in order to keep visitors safe. This will include the addition of markers on the floor to indicate a 6-foot distance. Baldwin said she and her staff are ready to work hard to ensure these regulations are followed in order to keep the gallery open.
“The gallery is a small space, but it’s also pretty easy to keep an eye on things,” Hough said. “I have a feeling that most people at Ithaca are going to be pretty respectful of that. I’ll definitely miss getting to have big events in there, but I’m just happy to be in the space at all.”
Sophomore Ellen Chapman said she plans on returning to the gallery when it reopens.
“I’m just looking forward to the Handwerker reopening,” Chapman said. “It’ll be nice to have another spot on campus to visit, plus I like going to see other people’s art. It’s important to appreciate their hard work, even if they don’t know you are.”
Before the pandemic, Chapman said she frequented the gallery and saw it as a place to relax.
“I really enjoy the fact that the Handwerker is a nonjudgmental space,” she said. “I went there alone a few times, and it was really nice to just look at the art. There isn’t any pressure to try and interpret or explain it, you can just stand there and be like, ‘That’s pretty,’ and that’s enough.”