It takes one medium-sized room, a few involved teachers, and a handful of aspiring students for the Henry Lehmann Gallery to come to life.
Amongst those students is Ashley Lebeau-Palmer, the director of the gallery, and she’s more than enthusiastic to talk about this project that’s quite unknown to the vast majority of the Vanier student population.
Named after a late yet praised Vanier teacher, who passed away in 2009, the gallery has been around ever since 2007, more or less.
“The gallery is a place for students to exhibit their work in a professional setting,” Lebeau-Palmer says. Not only so, but it’s a concept unique to Vanier College—no other school provides students with such an opportunity.
Any type of artwork can be featured—from drawing and paintings to photographs and even videos, as the room is also equipped with a projector. However, not everyone can apply.
“To submit a project, you have to be in the [Communications] program at Vanier,” Lebeau-Palmer explains. “Students submit an application with some of their work, to show its quality, as well as their idea. At the end of the semester, we look over the applications, and choose the shows for the next semester.” This semester, the gallery takes applications up until December 4th.
Indeed, everything is planned a semester ahead, which means that all projects showcased in Fall 2015 were picked at the end of the Winter 2015 semester.
Regular shows, which last three weeks, usually exhibit one student’s artwork exclusively. Often times, students even get paid when they get their own show.
The Henry Lehmann gallery however also provides an opportunity for a selection of students working on their portfolio. The Portfolio course at Vanier lets students work on their own artwork and focus on one particular project—the gallery gives them the chance to display it to the student community.
“Portfolio shows usually last a week,” Lebeau-Palmer says. Many students have their work up during a portfolio show—up to five different artworks can be shown, each coming with the artist’s statement that goes along with it.
Unlike regular shows, these shows take a little more time to schedule. “Regular shows are scheduled a semester in advance, but we still don’t know which students will have their portfolios up in the gallery a semester before,” the director explains. In other words, the time slots are scheduled for each portfolio show, but it then falls on the teachers, during the semester, to pick the students that will have the chance to exhibit their work in the gallery.
From November 18th until November 20th, for instance, students Sabrina Iacono, Aaron Asuncion, Wendy-Alexina Vancol, Brooke Brimo, and Ranee-Inez Henegan-Comeau, from teacher Keith Orkusz’s class, took part in one of those portfolio shows, and each had their work put up in the gallery. The media ranged from comic books, to traditional drawing, to video.
When asked about what she’d tell Vanier students about the gallery, Lebeau-Palmer shrugs bashfully. “Come to the shows!” she exclaims with a laugh. “Just walk in, if the door’s open; the gallery is there for you to come in and take a look at everything.”
“It’s a way to see what your fellow students have been working on,” she continues. “Many of these students have spent hundreds of hours working on those projects… and hundreds of dollars, too!”
Despite the lack of advertising on the gallery, Lebeau-Palmer is eager for students to come take a look at the gallery’s exhibitions. “We have opening and closing shows, where the artists are here to answer questions on their work, on Wednesdays at Universal Break,” she says with a smile.
The gallery’s last show this semester is currently on display, and features the work of Henri Venne’s portfolio class.
Photo and Article By: Sarah Boumedda
Originally Published: December 2015