The Union Gallery is the student art gallery located on the Queen’s campus. It operates as a space for both the Queen’s, as well as larger Kingston community, to exhibit their work, connect with other artists, and participate in events such as artist talks, workshops, and even the occasional boxing match. The Union Gallery can be found in Stauffer Library, just past the café and the long stretch of booths. It consists of two main exhibition areas, the main gallery and the project room, which briefly acted as a reading room where students could work on projects and schoolwork. However, The Union also has art spaces located around campus, such as the current exhibition Intimacies, which is held at the Grad Club until November 27th. The Union has also developed a wandering art station, which will be travelling throughout campus featuring different displays, aiming to bring art into the everyday lives of Queen’s students. 

The Union Gallery opened in 1994, after years of advocating for a student art space. It was in 1990 that the Alma Mater Society finally approved the allocation of funds to create a student art gallery. The Union Gallery has always been a student organization, and it consists of both professionals in the arts community, students, and working artists. This creates a unique and supportive community that promotes the arts on campus in a creative and inclusive way. 

The current director of the Union Gallery is Carina Magazzeni, who works alongside the administrative and communications coordinator Abby Nowakowski. I have had the pleasure of getting to know both amazing women and work with them as a volunteer. They have been bringing so much innovation and creativity to the Union Gallery and have developed  lots of exciting programming. Both Abby and Carina oversee the volunteers at the Union and provide us with a great support system, fostering an environment to share ideas and experiences. 

The Union Gallery is a great resource for students and, I believe, is extremely underutilised. Many of my peers have never heard of or been to the Union before or have just recently discovered it through a class trip. For those interested in a career in the arts or just want to become more involved on campus, volunteering at the Union is a great experience. I am currently a part of the library and archives team, which is just one of the many facets of the Union’s volunteer team. 

Furthermore, the gallery is also an important support for student artists, as students can submit work to be displayed in future exhibitions. The Union put on Intimacies this Fall, where students were prompted to create art that expressed student life. The works that were chosen are now on display at the Grad Club and have been there since the beginning of the semester, offering those artists a chance to gain more exposure. The Union also offers workshops for students and community members, such as the “Together We Tile” workshop and Heather Leier’s rice paper making workshop. These activities can help artists gain new techniques, meet other artists, and develop skills. 

Currently, the Union Gallery has a lot of programming available, as well as many upcoming projects. In the main gallery of the Union, Print Pulse 30: NUPE is being displayed. This exhibition consists of prints from five different universities across the country, including three artists from Queen’s. The exhibition was juried by Professor Stephanie Dickey from Queen’s University and was curated by Alejandro Arauz who is a professor in the fine arts department. In the project room, Heather Leier’s exhibition: Coping and Care, is displayed and is made up of rice paper prints, a book work, and multiple framed pieces. Both Print Pulse 30: Nupe and Coping and Care will both be available at The Union Gallery until December 11th. Another art space in the Union Gallery is the shelving area across from the front desk, which is currently displaying the first installment of the What are you Reading series, curated by Anna Douglas and Charlotte Beyries. The second installment of the series will be opening in February and will be curated by myself and Cicely Haggerty, accompanied by a bookmark making workshop and a zine making event. Other events that are occurring at The Union are the newly developed Photography Union which meets weekly, allowing students to collaborate on fun and experimental photography projects. Another upcoming event is Cezanne’s Closet which is an annual art auction event held at The Union, which is now accepting submissions for the exhibition. Tickets for Cezanne’s Closet will be available to the public later in November. 

The Union Gallery has big plans for the future, as the gallery has been constantly shifting and evolving to meet the needs of the student body and the Kingston community. When I spoke to Carina about what the future goals of the Union might be, she expressed interest in eventually opening a risograph print shop, where students can create their own prints and also purchase premade items such as planners, calendars, and notebooks. The print shop would also be home to the ever-expanding library and archives of the Union. 

I am excited about the future of the Union Gallery, and hope that through this article you have learned more about one of the richest arts resources on campus. Come visit and check out our current exhibitions!

Header Image Source: Union Gallery

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