University art gallery filled with local, national work

Lori Allen/The News Students explore the Clara?M. Eagle Gallery in their spare time.
Lori Allen/The News Students explore the Clara?M. Eagle Gallery in their spare time.

Lori Allen/The News
Students explore the Clara?M. Eagle Gallery in their spare time.

College art galleries hold a vast amount of young talent, education and insight. What a majority of students do not realize is that Murray State has its own gallery right in the middle of campus.

The Clara M. Eagle Gallery is located on the 6th floor of the Price Doyle Fine Arts Building and features art by not only well-known artists, but also art students of the University.

The art gallery began operation in the Price Doyle Fine Arts Building in 1971, but it started out as a continuation of an older gallery which was opened in the 1930s.

“Clara M. Eagle was chair of the department and helped get the permanent collection kind of going,” said Colin Tuis Nesbit, director of university galleries. “I also believe she was the one who named the gallery after herself.”

Nesbit began working in the department of galleries at Murray State two years ago after working at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego.

While there are four different branches of the gallery across campus, the exhibits shown are always changing.

The main gallery hosts a renowned artist for six weeks, then around midterms, the gallery begins showing artwork submitted by students with Bachelors of Fine Art degrees.

“Frankly, it’s trying to find a balance between how much money we have and is it possible to actually get the work here on that budget,” Nesbit said of how the gallery fills its space. “A lot of the artists are people I have known for a while because you know you can ask a favor of a friend and they know it is going to be installed very well.”

Nesbit also said in the three different universities he has worked, none of them had as much gallery space as the one at Murray State.

Having access to an art gallery on campus not only benefits aspiring artists but also other students by exposing them to different cultures and ideas that they might not even fully agree with said Nesbit.

“If we’re as great a nation as I believe we are, all great nations have had art,” Nesbit said. “All great civilizations have had art and have held up art as being important. And what’s unfortunate is that we are such a great nation, but we have cut art funding in high schools and grade schools because that is where you start to garner a respect and an appreciation for art in general. Then when you get to this point we should be helping you understand more instead of just beginning the relationship with art.”

Anna Fedorchuk, sophomore from Lexington, Ky., is a student who proudly displays her art in the Clara M. Eagle Gallery and knows the importance of being able to show her work.

“Everyone has their own show when they graduate,” she said. “Some of the art work gets reviewed by the director before it is displayed, and other work is judged by a jury made up of faculty in the art department.”

Not only is the opportunity to display art on campus good for art education, but it is also helpful for artists in their future careers.

“Artists need to have work displayed in shows to be able to get into good graduate schools and being able to sell their work,” Fedorchuk said. “Having displayed your art also builds your resume and it is good for your reputation.”

The Clara M. Eagle Gallery is open on weekdays from 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. to students and community members and is free to enter.


Story by Breanna Sill, Assistant Features Editor