Students take creative control at Harvard's Monday Gallery

by Mattie Kahn


Harvard’s campus is studded with the work of student artists. In the conventional sense, we have concert halls for a cappella, orchestral and musical performances, master classes open to undergraduate involvement, and among the most formidable collections of art at any university.

More broadly, just about every course of study enjoys its own creative jurisdiction. The new Innovation Lab, the dance studios, even the Science Center, for those who are more empirically minded, are testaments to the university’s commitment to fostering excellence. And yet until Monday, February 27, 2012, for VES concentrators—for whom the visual arts function as the cornerstone of their education at Harvard—no dedicated space in which to display their thesis work existed.

Enter The Harvard Monday Gallery, which debuted in February and remained opened for three subsequent (you guessed it!) Mondays in March. Inaugurating the Gallery was the exhibition Zero, an installation of art by 10 VES concentrators. And while mediums and scales for the displayed projects ranged from the minute to the massive, there was a mosaic cohesion to the show.

Perhaps the unity can be attributed to the gallery’s unique leadership structure. The gallery is wholly student run. Five co-creators collaborate on everything including creative vision, design and staffing. On the eve of The Monday Gallery’s opening all of them were milling about, the proud parents of Linden Street's bright, white room, which co-creator Scott Roben identified as "something that we’ve felt we needed for a very long time." As Kayla Escobedo, both a co-curator and a featured artist within the show, put it: The pieces produced by VES students deserve a curatorial space in which to be celebrated.

Those who missed out on Zero needn’t worry. The gallery will go on to host two shows each fall and one every spring. As Escobedo says: The Monday Gallery isn’t just a pet project for this year’s thesis candidates. It has the potential to become "a fixture of the Harvard community that goes well beyond our own graduation."