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Space for creativity

[Stefy McKnight]
After moving into a new home in Mackintosh-Corry Hall, the Department of Cultural Studies created ‘Pot-pourri: a collegiate exhibition,’  co-curated by Stéfy McKnight, above, and Michelle Smith. (University Communications)

When the Department of Cultural Studies moved into their new home in the lower floor of Mackintosh-Corry Hall, it brought together all the pieces – students, faculty and staff – in one location.

That provided some new opportunities.

Walking through the doors of B176, visitors are now greeted by ‘Pot-pourri: a collegiate exhibition,’ a gallery space for Cultural Studies students.

Co-curators Stéfy McKnight and Michelle Smith explain that Cultural Studies students can use their research and artistic practice as translational research or as a theoretical medium, allowing them to have conversations through different means and to engage with different materials. However, finding a display space on campus can be difficult.

“So that was a question we had: ‘How do we show people in our program that we are doing artworks in dynamic ways?’” says McKnight. “That’s where the idea of having our own space where graduate students in Cultural Studies can exhibit their work or even experiment with it came from.”

By using the spacing the students are also gaining experience in curating, installing, applying to exhibitions and preparing a professional body of work. They are exploring the space, how to present and what to present, McKnight says.

A new exhibition will be displayed each month.

Response has been positive, including from Queen’s community members who previously occupied or visited the space.

“They come down here and it’s ‘Oh my God, this space, it’s so fantastic, it looks so homey and roomy and we love it,’” says Smith. “Having that kind of reaction is really a positive reinforcement of what we have been doing and what we are trying to achieve. We’re trying to move away from just the utilitarian aspect of it toward this kind of connected space and this idea of community building.”

That’s where Pot-pourri comes in – bringing various pieces together to make something new.

With several exhibitions already complete, the co-curators are hopeful that the gallery will continue to evolve and expand with artists from outside Cultural Studies getting involved as well.

“It has become a very dynamic space,” McKnight says.