Going Virtual: Visual Arts Council’s Annual Art Auction

Over the last few weeks, Muse, Lawrenceville's Visual Arts Council, has been organizing and executing its annual Winter Art Auction. The auction is an interactive method of showcasing student artwork while raising funds for visual arts-related charities. This year's auction revenue will be donated to Sing for Hope, an organization founded by Lawrenceville Alumni Monica Yunus '95 that combines visual art and music with service.

Over the last few weeks, Muse, Lawrenceville's Visual Arts Council, has been organizing and executing its annual Winter Art Auction. The auction is an interactive method of showcasing student artwork while raising funds for visual arts-related charities. This year's auction revenue will be donated to Sing for Hope, an organization founded by Lawrenceville Alumni Monica Yunus '95 that combines visual art and music with service.

Muse's annual auction typically takes place in the Kirby Math and Science Building over Winter Gathering, but this year's circumstances forced the Council to come up with creative alternatives. Instead of creating walk-through displays, the Council held a silent auction online during which students and teachers could view photos of student artwork through an online catalogue and place bids on a spreadsheet. The Council members are then scheduled to deliver the pieces to buyers in the spring.

Of course, carrying out the auction was not without its challenges. According to Co-President Hannah Welsh '21, "Everything online is just harder to get excited about…especially with something like visual art, where everything grabs [your attention] more in-person. When you're seeing a painting, it's just not the same [as] when you're looking at a picture of it."

"We faced challenges with finding enough people who were interested in donating their artworks," said Co-President Angel Zhang '22. "It was also quite challenging for us to virtually promote the event and make sure that the community didn't forget about it over its two week duration."

Despite these obstacles, the Council still sold most of its artwork. "I think that just having successful sales at all on a virtual platform was a win for us, even if we didn't raise the same amount of money as [we had] last year," Welsh said.

Formed only last year, the Visual Arts Council is a relatively new group on campus. "One of our struggles has been the fact that the Council doesn’t have a huge presence on campus yet, just because it's so young. So, one of our goals in the spring is [to gain] more of a presence on campus," Welsh commented.

Welsh joined the Council last year in order to get more involved in the visual arts scene at Lawrenceville. "Visual arts has been my greatest passion for as long as I can remember," she said. Up to this point, her favorite Council event took place last year, when the Council hosted a series of workshops during All Arts Night hosted at the Gruss Center for Art and Design. During the event, students could participate in activities such as watercolor painting and making friendship bracelets. "There were so many students there, and everyone was so excited to [get] involved in the arts. That's the energy that we're hoping to bring back this spring because it's been so hard without having in-person events," Welsh said.

Aside from the auction, the Council met during the Winter Term to designate project groups and provide a platform for members to share their ideas to further promote visual arts on campus. They organized projects such as virtual art contests in which students submitted artwork inspired by specific themes such as "Pumpkin," or "Winter." Winners received gift cards from any Main Street establishment of their choosing.

Looking forward, the Council is planning a "culminating in-person event." Though the specifics of the event is still in the works, Welsh revealed that their inspiration is Bob Ross. "Bob Ross uses a comparatively simple way of painting and since we want to make the event more accessible for those who are less experienced, we want to use his tutorials as guidance," said Zhang. "There [will] be food, and there [will] be a group of people following along to a painting tutorial," Welsh said. For students interested in, or wanting to begin exploring visual arts, Muse's upcoming events are definitely activities to look forward to this spring.

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