Selective Focus: Lend a Paw Virtual Exhibit

UMD’s Senior Design Studio II class has created a virtual gallery to show their work, and is using the opportunity to raise money for the Douglas County Humane Society. The exhibit, online store and Go Fund Me page will be active until May 5. Each piece in the exhibition is inspired by the story of a rescue pet. Visitors can move around the inside and outside of the gallery space to look at the art, read the stories and interact with the objects in the display. The class is led by UMD Department of Art & Design Assistant Professor David Short, and one of the organizers, Jack Schneewind, fills us in on how the exhibit came together, and what the class hoped to achieve with the project.

How did you decide on the virtual room or gallery as the way to present the work?

Initially, the exhibition was supposed to be on campus towards the end of April. Given recent global events with COVID-19, we were forced to scrap that idea. As a group, we really felt like we needed to do more to raise awareness than an eCommerce shop. We still wanted to offer a way for the community to come together and view our work in an exhibition setting. Within a few days we had a functional exhibition online, I think that’s when a lot of us really got excited about the potential of the fundraiser. I’m proud of the group and how we’ve adapted during these tough times. Now more than ever it is important to support one another, especially local businesses. We hope you enjoy the exhibition!

Did the artists meet the pets in person, or did the stories come through the Humane Society?

Every artist had an option, either choose a story supplied by the Humane Society or create their own about a rescue in their lives. It was our hope to eventually visit the Humane Society and possibly promote our visit on social media. Obviously, that is no longer feasible. You’ll find that each piece of art in the exhibition has the pet’s name within the artwork. Then, if you go to our RedBubble shop you’ll see that the name is removed. We hope that some people see our work and are reminded of their own pets. That way, they can go to our shop and get products with them on it!

Did the students approach the work as a typical piece of art, or more like a design challenge since the work was going on products?

I believe the best art is created through passion and commitment. If you approach anything as ‘typical’ it becomes less personal. All of us feel very strongly about helping animals in need and many of us have our own rescues. As a group, we carried that passion over to our work and I feel great about the quality of our exhibition. I do think every piece of art offers a unique design challenge but I don’t think the idea of our work being on products intimidated anybody in the group.

Redbubble shop

Virtual Gallery
Redbubble Shop
Go Fund Me page
Facebook page

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