By Matt Blair

Starting May 16 and running through June 5, the VU Gallery will be displaying a series of art pieces created by undergraduate students from schools on the West Coast, including a few students at Western as well as undergrads from California, Oregon and Idaho.

The exhibit, titled “Beyond Borders,” is an annual art competition open to any undergraduate students attending college on the West Coast. This year’s exhibit will mark the 14th year that “Beyond Borders” will be displayed at Western. Art forms explored in the collection include painting, photography, sculpture, illustration and other forms of visual media.

One of the few requirements for artists was that all submitters had to attempt to go beyond the borders of their expressive abilities and offer different forms of communication through the art. Artists were encouraged to push the envelope when developing their pieces, said AS Viking Union Gallery Assistant Coordinator Allie Paul.
“I especially like the openness of the exhibit,” said Paul. “They [the artists] can follow the concept of ‘Beyond Borders’ by crossing their own boundaries.”

The piece that will be displayed were selected by three local judges made up of members of the Bellingham art community. Since “Beyond Borders” was an open call for art, judges were encouraged to evaluate each piece based on what they believed it intended to do. Artists were also required to submit statements about their pieces.
“They [the judges] looked for work that was original,” Paul said. “They wanted work that conveys a strong message.”

VU Gallery Coordinator Cory Budden said that although there was no official theme for “Beyond Borders,” once all of the works were collected together, they connected with each other in surprising ways.

“Once all of the pieces are in the gallery, you see works that talk to each other and draw from one another,” Budden said. “They all go under the same premise. We put out an open call for art in Washington, Alaska, Oregon, Idaho, California and British Columbia and made it available for any student to submit. We were looking to have a big, diverse group of pieces on display.”

Paul in particular felt excited about the exhibit because it showcases the talents of undergrads on the West Coast.

Another requirement to submit artwork for “Beyond Borders” was status as an undergraduate student. Budden said that this exhibit was special because it showcases the talent level of student artists that are just beginning their college careers.

As an art student herself, Paul enjoyed seeing how varied the artwork was this year.

“It was inspiring for me, as someone studying art here at Western, to see people in my age group creating truly wonderful and innovative things,” Paul said.
“Because all of the art is undergrad work, it’s really a great opportunity to see how talented these artists are before they finish college,” said Budden.

Budden also noted that “Beyond Borders” is a unique exhibit for the VU Gallery coordinators because it doesn’t require them to try to create an artistic ambience. The fact that it shows a number of different artistic views makes the exhibit very distinct.

“This is one of the few shows where we don’t have to make the exhibit any more unique than it already is,” said Budden.

On June 2, at a closing reception dinner, the judges will announce the exhibit’s top three prizes, which will be awarded to the three artists that they feel have contributed the strongest pieces to the overall theme. Last year, over $1,000 was handed out in prizes for the top three contributors.

The exhibition is free and open to the public starting May 16 in the VU Gallery 507.