By Christian Bustos
Eastern Kentucky University’s Fred Parker Giles Gallery celebrates its 50th anniversary with a renovated space and showcase of over 30 pieces of artwork from retired, past and present faculty members. The gallery, located in the Campbell Building, serves as the university’s foremost venue for visual art and design. It was founded in 1973 and is named after Fred Parker Giles, an EKU art professor from 1939-64.
According to Melissa Vanderberg, Giles Gallery director and associate professor for the School of Art and Design, the gallery has been in need of updates for nearly two decades.
Before the renovations, the gallery had dim lights and brown carpeted walls, making the space look dark. Just in time for the 50th anniversary, the Giles Gallery now has a new lighting system and light painted walls to give the gallery a more modern and inviting ambiance.
“We want to make sure that we create an accessible venue that has value for everybody in the surrounding landscape,” Vandenberg said. “This will benefit students, alumni, faculty, staff, Richmond and beyond. It’s going to regularly exhibit the works of students and faculty, from thesis exhibitions to biennial faculty exhibitions. We also have the ability once or twice a year to host other exhibits, such as the Chautauqua National Jury Exhibition.”
The gallery spotlights the creative work of students, alumni, faculty and artists of regional and national renown. It provides an extension of studio classrooms, offering a diverse range of artwork, cultural enrichment and free public programming.
The gallery renovations were advocated for and funded by the Office of the Provost; the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences (CLASS); the Institute for Creative and Collaborative Arts (ICCA) and the School of Art and Design (SoAD). The initial planning stages to the now-completed space took about two years. After plans were approved, the physical renovations began and lasted nine months.
Vandenberg wants people to feel welcomed and comfortable in visiting Giles Gallery. “This space is for everyone,” she said. “It is free and open to the public.”
The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 12-4 p.m. The exhibit of past and present faculty artwork as part of the 50th anniversary celebration was on display through April 19 and a Golden Grand Opening of the Giles Gallery took place on March 31. As exhibits rotate, the gallery briefly closes for installation of new artwork in between exhibits. Most exhibits are on display for 2-4 weeks.
The spring 2023 bachelor of fine arts senior exhibition, CRESCENDO, opens to the public with a reception on Sunday, April 30, from 2-4 p.m., and will be on display until May 12.
Learn more about the Giles Gallery at art.eku.edu/fred-parker-giles-gallery.