Hugh McPeck Gallery Hosts Virtual Exhibitions

For the past few months, the Hugh McPeck Gallery has been hosting virtual exhibitions, showing off art online while the UAA campus remains closed. Created using a website called Artsteps, these virtual exhibitions are far more involved than a slideshow or images, they allow the viewer to actually navigate, using mouse or keyboard, around a three-dimensional show floor. Images of the artwork line the walls, accompanied by descriptions and artist credits, as in any in-person exhibition.

Virtual Exhibitions are held in a emulation of three-dimensional space, allowing viewers to move around and look at art on the walls. screenshots by Jake Dye courtesy of artsteps

The most recent virtual exhibition was the 2021 Clay Body Ceramic Invitational, showcasing the work of the UAA Clay Body, a club of students from ceramics classes. The pieces shown are diverse, though all made from clay. The Hugh McPeck Gallery has hosted the Clay Body Exhibition annually for several years. 

Other virtual exhibitions include the 35th annual No Big Heads competition, where contestants submit small self-portraits, and UAA Foundations 2020, spotlighting the work of students at the 100 and 200 course level. Every virtual exhibition is currently available on the Hugh McPeck Gallery’s Artsteps profile.

Gallery Managers, Denali Peterson and Nicole Pendleton, spoke about the process of organizing the virtual exhibitions. The managers said “the work that goes into a virtual exhibition includes many things we’d still think about when setting up a physical exhibition” Size, spacing and colors need to be taken into account. Using Artsteps allows the managers to design the whole space, Pendleton saying that she was able to “draw the walls and construct the entire virtual building from the ground up in Artsteps.”

The authentic gallery feel is completed by plants and seating placed around the virtual space. Screenshot by artsteps courtesy of Jake Dye.

Accepting pieces for a virtual exhibition is different because the art no longer enters the Hugh McPeck Gallery. Artists instead submit images of their work. Featuring three-dimensional pieces in the virtual format, such as the sculptures in the Clay Body exhibit, required several photos to show the multiple viewing angles and fine details.

The Hugh McPeck Gallery plans to remain virtual only through the summer. Several more exhibitions are planned during this time. The 2021 2D3D Art Exhibition, featuring student artwork selected by instructors at the 300 and 400 courselevel will be held later this month, opening Monday, Feb. 22. The Juried Student Art Show will be held starting Thursday, Mar. 25. 

Updates from the Hugh McPeck Gallery surrounding future virtual exhibitions can be found on their Facebook page.