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IPFW and St. Francis University Art Leagues Face Off in First Collaborative Show

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Written by: Communicator StaffMarch 26, 2014

This season’s opening exhibits at Wunderkammer Company highlighted the varying rivalries that exist in Fort Wayne’s art community. For IPFW, that meant being pitted against fellow artists from St. Francis University in the showcase “Art League War.”

This exhibit, which opened March 14, features artwork submitted by the student art leagues of both universities facing off on either side of the gallery space.

“I don’t think we’ve done anything with St. Francis before which is why it was such an appealing idea since we don’t get to interact with their art students very much,” said Sarah Schmidt, president of IPFW’s art student league.

“As far as the arts go, I think they try to discourage actual competition, so they don’t want us to pit ourselves against one another, but I feel like since we don’t get to see each other that’s kind of inevitable to happen. So it was kind of fun to have this show and make fun of the concept that we’re supposed to be versus one another,” she said.

After being voted in as President this year, Schmidt’s goal was to give the art league more visibility in the community and led her to contact Schwartz about gallery space. Although Wunderkammer was almost entirely booked for the season, St. Francis had already reserved the space for a show at the same time that the “Fort Side Story” exhibit was planned.

Because “Fort Side Story” deals with the rivalry of place between Artlink – the west side – and Wunderkammer in the east, creating a spoofed gallery based on the idea of rivalry between the two universities seemed like a perfect way to bring them together.

“We hoped that this would make a fun way for the students to interact and think about the true lack of barriers in the art world, including which university that you go to,” Schwartz said. “The rivalries that do exist, for the most part, barely exist. They arrive by individuals lacking confidence in themselves, their work and their status within the arts. It’s bound to happen, so we hope that we can proactively counter it by just sort of laughing [and] being like ‘isn’t this ridiculous?’”

In addition to creating a collaborative space and mocking the notion of rivalry, the opening night of “Art League War” functioned as a fundraiser for both student groups.

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According to Schmidt, the IPFW student group managed to raise $70, which represented 40 percent of the total sales since individual artists received 60 percent of the sale of their work. The prices were decided by the students and based upon the materials and time that went into the pieces.

While the fundraising event is over, the exhibit will still be on display until April 16, and the student artists will receive 100 percent of the sales from any of their pieces. Currently, seven IPFW students and about 40 of their pieces are being showcased at Wunderkammer alongside the work of nine students from St. Francis, and a majority of these works are up for sale.

“These shows are usually fairly important in the development of young artists, and we hope that we can provide many of these experiences for them. Our mission is to ‘revitalize communities through contemporary art,’ so we hope that our work does this through both students and more established artists,” Schwartz said.

Individuals and groups interested in working with the gallery in the future can contact Schwartz through the Wunderkammer Company facebook group, and information about upcoming meetings and events for the art league can be found in the Art Students League IPFW on facebook.

Story by: Laura Rosenbaum