Putting yourself on display
Having your work on display for everyone to see can be a daunting experience. Artwork is subject to judgment and criticism, and that’s enough to make anyone second guess putting their work out there.
But for Neil Gainer, displaying his very own art is exciting. As he gets ready to graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, he reflects on his time at IU Northwest and all the opportunities he enjoyed in the art program.
When he first enrolled at the campus, he wasn’t ready to take the plunge into art. “Initially, I had no intention of art school,” Gainer said. “I was accepted to the business program and transferred halfway through—I hadn’t quite figured out my passion for art.”
But soon enough, Gainer found a community of his own in the fine arts department. He enjoyed working with his new-found peer group, where he could share ideas and make lifelong friends.
“Finding a community of peers to connect with is an integral part of education, and through COVID times, this can be a difficult task,” he said.
Despite the challenges that come with carving out your own space in a community (especially during a pandemic), Gainer excelled. Although art wasn’t in his original plans, he quickly found a passion for ceramics. Gainer said he sees the ceramics lab as a “hidden gem” on campus.
His dedication to the fine arts soon paid off, and he earned himself a spot in the IU Northwest gallery. “It feels like a nice big step into the career path that I want to pursue,” Gainer said. “The gallery as a concept is an odd sterile space, void of life, and it is up to the artist to bring it to life.”
As Gainer finishes up his degree, he hopes to bring life to other projects. His plans eventually involve graduate school, but first he wants to spend some time expanding his portfolio.
Whether it’s a building a post-grad portfolio or navigating college for the first time, the same principle applies: You get what you put in. “If you work hard and extend yourself, the school will recognize your effort and opportunities will arise,” Gainer said.
Creating and displaying your own artwork is seldom easy, but with a strong work ethic and commitment to community, Gainer is sure to see his art in galleries in Northwest Indiana and beyond.