Ann Skiold transforms Bird Library study space into art gallery Biblio Gallery


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The Biblio Gallery can easily be confused with another study space in Bird Library. With glass walls and a long conference table, the gallery attracts more students to work quietly than to view the art displayed inside. What students might not notice, however, is the hard work of Ann Skiold, Bird’s fine arts and languages ​​librarian, in curating the fourth-floor gallery.

“I try to make it look effortless,” Skiold said.

But the glazed room has come a long way since it adopted the identity of the Galerie Biblio. Formerly used as a storage space for Bird, the area fell under the Skiold estate in 2009. As someone with an academic background in art and art history, she said she saw potential in the area to become a gallery for student work.

“I want people to succeed,” Skiold said. “I want them to feel good and proud of their work, so it’s kind of a boost for people.”

Its process for selecting students to feature is interactive from the start. Skiold solicits submissions from an online form, which she reviews and uses to contact artists via email. The Biblio Gallery is accepting submissions from artists in all mediums and subjects, ranging from Comic Con to oil paintings to intricate drawings inspired by COVID-19. Once she approves the artist, Skiold meets with them in person to discuss how to retain their work and produce an artist statement before their exhibition date.

While running the Biblio Gallery on her own — and without a budget — Skiold learned which materials work best in the gallery space: display board, not glass, she said. Part of the effort of working with students is to encourage artists to take a practical and professional role in building their exhibition, which includes printing and hanging their own work.

“Hopefully they understand the amount of work involved,” Skiold said. “I also want them to realize that it has to look professional; it has to be done well. Sometimes I’ve told students that they cut the edges too much and it looks sloppy.

Since the beginning of the semester, she has coordinated the exhibition of four collections at the Galerie Biblio and is looking for student work for the summer. The work of Manya Gadhok, a third-year film student, is currently on display at Galerie Biblio until May 9.

Gadhok is from Delhi, India. The inspiration for her collection, “Survive”, stems from the stark class disparities she witnessed growing up and during her subsequent visits to India. She took the photos which are now on display at the Biblio Gallery during one of her recent trips to Delhi, and they depict the gritty daily life of lower caste people seeking to survive in the form of money or food, she mentioned.

“I’ve seen this literal class divide and how these people are actually struggling, with my own eyes, I’ve experienced it,” Gadhok said. “I decided I have to do something about it. I have to do my work around it; I need to see the issues; I have to show it to the world.

The opportunity to showcase politically important work like Gadhok’s is something Skiold said she was happy to provide, and has done in the past. The Biblio gallery has also hosted works not based on photography, such as Xuan Liu’s multimedia and digital art collection which was presented in the gallery in February.

Liu, a third-year graduate student in illustration, saw the Biblio Gallery as an opportunity to showcase her work to a wider audience. As someone who enjoys experimenting with mixed mediums, Liu chose pieces that demonstrated her range as an artist for her collection.

“I love exploring mixed media, and sometimes I go through traditional media and digital media,” Liu said. “It’s kind of my direction; I like to explore (the) use of different media.

For Gadhok and Liu, the Biblio Gallery served as an outlet to share their creativity outside of the classroom. Skiold said it was by design: the purpose of the gallery is to enable student artists of all mediums, not just painting or photography, to take their work out of their homes or their cameras and introduce them to the world.

Because the gallery is not housed in a space dedicated solely to art, Skiold has found that students often don’t notice the works displayed there. It hopes to remedy this by adding more media components, including a way for film and video artists to share their work.

Regardless of the gallery audience, however, Liu appreciates the opportunity to exhibit works in a public place. She stressed the importance for artists to submit their work to be seen, as this can lead to future opportunities in the creative world.

“If you are confident in your work and really love your work, you should cherish every chance to promote and promote yourself as an artist,” Liu said. “If you want to become a professional artist, you have to take this step. Even if it is a very small exposure, it will be a very important line on your CV. So cherish every chance you have.


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