An element of the partnership between the University of North Florida and the Museum of Contemporary Art Downtown is a gallery dedicated to displaying work by the university's art and design faculty.
The students of art at UNF now have an opportunity to exhibit – and sell – their work through a partnership with Southlight Gallery on the second floor at 6 E. Bay St.
"There is so much work produced by the students, we needed an opportunity to show it. This is a way to get their work outside the boundary of the university," said Paul Karabinis, UNF associate professor of photography.
Karabinis said about 80 students are enrolled to study photography at UNF as their major. Those studying painting also enroll in photography classes, he said.
The work on display is not purely photography, but based on the medium. Karabinis said photography lends itself to mixed-media work, including printmaking and silkscreen, which are based on photographic processes.
Karabinis said about 60 percent of the work done by the students is based on digital photographic technology, with the remaining 40 percent done by more traditional techniques.
"There has been a change in attitude. Photographers can be painters. With digital technology, you can change every pixel. The medium has gone beyond recording an image," he said.
While technology and the interests of art students goes through a constant evolution, the motivation to study has remained constant.
"The reason people make art never changes. The way people make art changes," Karabinis said.
Exhibiting their work at Southlight Gallery and offering it for sale complements UNF's art education curriculum. Karabinis said the exhibits are part of the "professional practiced education." Students are required to have their work matted and framed to the standards of a private gallery, for example. Offering the work for sale adds the commercial element involved with being an artist.
The image of the "starving artist" might be romantic, but it doesn't offer much in the way of a sustainable career.
"I call it 'surviving art.' Artists have to learn how to market themselves," said Karabinis.
Southlight Gallery founder and photographer Michael Dunlap said the partnership between the gallery and the university is a symbiotic relationship.
"It's a chance for the students to have a real-world venue. That's exciting and it brings a new young group to the gallery and further defines our diversity, which has always been an important part of Southlight," he said.
Having so many students producing so much work in the course of their study is another advantage for the gallery, Dunlap said. He's planning to open a new exhibit of the students' work every four weeks.
Southlight Gallery is open 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and by appointment.
For more information, call (904) 438-4358 or visit southlightgallery.com.
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