BYU’s Department of Art Gallery Space at West Campus Benefits Students and Artists While Keeping the Spirit of the Former Provo High School Alive
Innovation steps out in front of freshly painted walls. The gym equipment is gone. Students carry sketchbooks instead of sweat rags. The Weight Room gallery is an old high school weight room transformed into a stage for collegiate-level art exhibitions.
The name is a nod to the room’s previous function as the student athlete weight room for Provo High bulldogs. The gallery is now open to the public at BYU’s West Campus.
BYU announced plans to build a new fine arts building on June 6, 2022. The Departments of Art, Design, and Theatre and Media Arts have moved to BYU West Campus — the old Provo High School — in preparation for the demolition of the Harris Fine Arts Center and the eventual new fine arts building.
The Department of Art now has more than 3,700 square feet of space to showcase student and faculty work. Previously, art and design departments shared the gallery spaces in the HFAC. The move to West Campus buildings provides more space and flexibility for both departments.
“Having such a beautiful space just makes our students' work look even better and more professional,” said Chris Lynn director of art galleries at West Campus. “The gallery is an area for students to experience what it is like putting together an exhibition — whether of their own work or curating the work of others.”
The set-up process of the gallery provided invaluable experience for students. In preparation for the Weight Room’s debut exhibition, students enrolled in Gallery Management helped to curate the artwork.
The Weight Room gallery opened with its first show in the month of September. BYU’s own faculty displayed works of various styles and mediums, including sculpture, painting, multimedia, visual and audio art.
“The faculty gave us some great work,” said Lynn. “And the new space is amazing — high ceilings, nice expanses of clean walls, good lighting. The students in our gallery management course helped lay out and hang the show, so they got to learn about the ins and outs of planning and executing an exhibition.”
Award-winning photographer Eugene Tapahe is a student that participated in the class. There were a lot more ins and outs to curating a gallery than Tapahe expected but putting on a show in a new and improved room was rewarding. Tapahe described how although a difficult process, helping to curate the gallery was a great experience for him.
“It was challenging to create a nice flow, because you have to think about the viewers' experience,” said Tapahe. “You have to think about things like how high to hang the artwork or how to display it without damaging it.”
The gallery has three main spaces and two smaller rooms on the northernmost end, as well as a small exhibition space and an audio/visual installation space.
The Weight Room is open and admission is free. Exhibitions will rotate and display a variety of student, faculty and visiting artists' work. Visitors can expect to be led through a clean, well-curated gallery any time through the opening hours of Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Step into the Weight Room, room WCCB 2470 at the north end of the building and experience the innovation in this recently repurposed space — a space continuing to serve and inspire the Provo community.