How does a starving artist get into a restaurant? By hanging their work.
Located within Degrees Diner in University Center, The Starving Artist Gallery (SAG) is mandated to exclusively show the work of University of Manitoba students. This year’s coordinator, Dayna Danger, explained that the purpose of the gallery is to “promote our arts community and give student artists a taste of exposure.” Along with providing artists a place to hang their work, Danger said artists “get a free liquid diet for the duration of your work being displayed.”
Danger describes her position as the coordinator for the gallery; among her many duties she goes above and beyond the role of curator. She explained “I do much more than just arrange the artwork in a certain fashion [ . . . ] I find the artists, put them up on our walls, advertise for their shows, organize their opening receptions and do all the running around that is needed.”
Student artists the gallery has shown this year include Gillian King, Kara Passey, Ben Clarkson, Mike Spencer, Janessa Brunet, Dylan Hewlett, Brynna Stefanson, Nadine Hink, Echo Xie, Steve Basham, Ashley Gillanders, Matea Radic and Ten Yetman. January is set to bring a show by artist Samara Durrant-Eunson. On the gallery’s choices, Danger said, “I feel these are all important artists coming out of Fine Arts.”
Danger doesn’t feel that the Starving Artist Gallery runs into competition with The Gallery of Student Art (GOSA), another platform on campus for promoting student art, instead viewing the relationship as that of “sister galleries.” Moreover, the context in which the artwork is viewed is very different between the two spaces — one being a restaurant, and the other a formal gallery space. Danger explained that the restaurant location “does affect the interpretation and appreciation of the work [ . . . ] It’s a different audience than just walking into a designated gallery space.” Despite being a restaurant, work is not chosen on whether or not people can eat in front of it. But who doesn’t like a falafel with a side of art?
This month, the gallery might also be expanding into the futon room in UMFM. “Apparently the posters are a fire hazard and the walls have been offered,” said Danger, “which is great because I can now show more artists.”
The gallery has been in place before Danger began coordinating it, and she assumes that its origin was “way back in the rule of our old manager, Drew.” Danger is herself an artist, in her thesis year majoring in photography at the School of Art. This allows her to “understand what my peers are going through,” and adds to her passion for the gallery. “I love it, helping beginning artists build self-confidence and a thicker skin is what I hope to achieve,” she said.
On the importance of the Starving Artist Gallery, Danger said, “Young artists really pour their hearts into their work and, let’s face it, we are starving. We need butter for our bread. The liquid diet is kind of hilarious, too. I don’t think many galleries do that.”