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A different kind of LAUNCH

The art students at Valley have a new way of showing their art in the annual LAUNCH20.

By Savannah Simmons, Managing Editor

The annual student art exhibition looks a little different this year, but has given more students the chance to have their works of art included in the gallery.

The annual LAUNCH program, this year called LAUNCH20, is currently being held completely online, including works from 40 artists with a selected 72 pieces on display.

“This year, instead of having [the exhibition] juried, we are exhibiting every single art piece that was submitted to us,” explained Professor Jenene Nagy, who curated the show. “And that is doable because it's virtual, so there's no physical restraints for the artworks.”

In a pre-pandemic world, LAUNCH would be set up and run like a real exhibition at an art gallery where students would have to submit work, get rejected or accepted and have the opportunity to meet notable Los Angeles gallery owners or curators during the show. This creates a professional setting for students to learn from, add to their resume and get the full experience of the art world and all of its parts — even if that means rejection. Though that process was not a possibility this year, a new opportunity presented itself in the online version — creating space for every art work to be put on display.

“Watching mine and other students’ art online felt that art is still alive, even though all exhibitions and museums are closed,” said Shiva Nosrati, a student artist who has two pieces in the show. “It was a really good experience for me to attend the student art show — especially during a pandemic.”

Nosrati’s works, “Mother” and “Parallel Universes”, are both works from Spring 2020 in Professor Tom Mossman’s Photographics I course. She explained she was able to turn to art during the pandemic to keep her going, spending most of her time painting and shooting photography. Art “helps me feel alive,” she said.

Art classes have also changed in 2020 moving to the online platform. Aziza Gafurjanova, whose works “Untitled” and “Opal’s Timekeeper are also in the show, shared that the online platform has been an immense change. In-person classes come with time in the studio and the ability to observe classmates' work and progress, which she says is incredibly important when students are stuck themselves. Studio time for an artist is sacred, especially when not everyone has the luxury of space to work in peace.

“I think whatever we create should always be seen,” expressed Gafurjanova when referring to her participation in the online gallery. “You never know when something you have made could spark an idea, bring comfort, touch feelings or bring back a memory to the viewer. It doesn't matter where it's seen.”

Although the LAUNCH20 is not physically in the gallery, something else has been left standing. MMXX is the art faculty biennial show that opened the day of the initial coronavirus shut down back in March. It was left up under the impression that the opening would be rescheduled in two weeks after the shelter-in-place orders were lifted, but that was not the case. Now, it is only viewable virtually, though the photos of the gallery walls do create a feeling of being there.

“This [exhibit] shows that research and practice is integral to teaching,” said Nagy. “There's also responsibility involved in exhibiting artwork, that's kind of 50 percent of the equation of being an artist, it’s that opportunity for dialogue and exchange. It's important for the students to be viewers.”

Both the student art exhibit, LAUNCH20, and the faculty show, MMXX, are available on and will be up for viewing until Dec. 30.


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