Building Confidence through Art

By Natalie Becker

Upon entering the Kramer Gallery at ACC's Rio Grande campus location one is immediately struck by the vast and eclectic variety of work held within its walls. This collection of art is currently made up of the new acquisitions to the Art Department Permanent Collection, a body of work that includes approximately 150 different two- and three-dimensional pieces all crafted by ACC art students. This space provides some students with their very first experience of professional sale and display of their own work. As digital/mixed media student artist Joseph Kosier says, “once I walked into the gallery and saw my piece on the wall, … to hear strangers talking about my work was a huge confidence boost. It made me consider my art in a whole new way.” Artist Esther Sullivan echoes his sentiments; “being able to see my work displayed in this setting, it's given me a lot of confidence to believe that my work can come to fruition for me.”

"Succulent Gardens" by Camela Gray

This process of acquiring student artwork not only builds up the students' own confidence but also provides a multi-faceted community-building experience. Sullivan said on the subject “I was lucky enough to have my professor, Ben Appl, choose me to be in the student art show - my sculpture won first place and was then purchased by the art department for the permanent collection. It made me incredibly proud and happy that my professor believed in me enough to select my work for this display.” Such relationship-building moments between student and professor strengthen the ACC community experience and give students greater confidence in themselves and their work.

Kosier felt more connected to the community through the experience of having his work shown in the Kramer Gallery. “I'm really happy about it,” he says. “It's gotten me more attention from people who otherwise would have had no chance to view my work.” Working as a musician and artist in Austin, Kosier estimates that more than half of his commissions come from the broader ACC community. Sullivan also has been deeply affected by the ACC art program. She began as a part-time student re-exploring her passion for creativity, and now works in the printmaking studio. She hopes to have her first solo show ready for display within the next year.

All those who spoke on the subject felt that the clean professionalism of the Kramer Gallery space and the purchasing process of the Permanent Collection allow ACC students to see themselves as true artists in the Austin art community, even as they are still gaining additional knowledge of their trade through classes at the college.

Untitled by Jess Butler

While the gallery will be moving from the Rio Grande Campus to Highland, Art Department Co-Chair Gary Webernick predicts only more good to come. “In the future,” he says, “we hope to show larger portions of the entire collection in our new gallery space at the Highland Center.” He also mentions the upcoming plan to have an exchange program for exhibitions with other colleges and universities.

This program, and its upcoming expansion, serves to bridge the gap between the art student's collegiate experience and their future professional success.

To view these new acquisitions, visit the Kramer Gallery at Rio Grande Campus through August 5. Among other works keep an eye out for Kosier's beautifully illustrative mixed media/digital piece “Ptarms” as well as Sullivan's fascinating botanically-inspired plaster mold series “Personal Growth.”