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The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Locker Room: An Exploration of an Ideal World

Clifford Gallery at Colgate University welcomed a new collection of work entitled “The Locker Room” on Friday, March 29. Colgate hosted Jackie Summel through the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation Artist-in-Residence program, which permits one or more artists to join the Colgate community during the school year. Summel worked in conjunction with Studio CAJAIR, a team of students whose name serves as an anagrammatic acknowledgment of their connection to the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation Artist-in-Residence program.

Summel is widely recognized for her Solitary Gardens Project as well as her role in sports activism. The Solitary Gardens Project is one that Summel has been working on for a number of years. For the project, the artist partners with incarcerated individuals to build gardens that are the size of solitary prison cells. The work aims to call for an end to the inhumane use of solitary confinement while simultaneously showing the compassion necessary to dismantle this system.

In addition to her prison reform advocacy work, Summel is known for being the only girl in an all-boys league to play competitive tackle football in New York. These aspects of Summel’s life are clearly reflected in her work for “The Locker Room” collection.

Associate Professor of Art Margaretha Haughwout is the curator of the Clifford Gallery and Art Lecture series for the 2023-2024 school year. Haughwout has an executive role in deciding who to show in the gallery and helps make the show as good and aesthetically pleasing as possible.

Haughwout explained her decision to invite Summel to join Colgate’s art department. 

“I invited [Summel] as a huge admirer of [the Solitary Gardens] Project and I wanted her to come and think with us about abolition, broadly speaking,” Haughwout said. “[Summel] has been thinking a lot about the dynamics of sports, the history of athletics and activism and the connections and disconnections between cultural conceptions of sports, art and activism. She wanted to do a project where she was really thinking about these things together.”

The students of Studio CAJAIR, Summel and their team were interested in the concept of a locker room. Eventually, they considered the question: “What happens if the locker room becomes public, seeded with the best of its potential? Can we make the lockers themselves altars to the future(s) we wish to see?”

Studio CAJAIR and Summel invited students from Haughwout’s “Art & Activism” course to transform 12 lockers into a space that represents the unlocking of potential and creation of an ideal reality. “The Locker Room” explored ideas of reproductive health, racial inequality, climate change and sports — among others. 

Junior Avery Brundige, a student who worked on the exhibition, detailed her experience with curating her locker.

“I’m an art minor, so I have taken a few art courses before, but I’ve never been involved in a project like this,” Brundige said. “I was so excited to be involved in a gallery installation. The project was a ton of work, but I’m really proud of my team and how the locker turned out.”

Students were grouped by interest and were encouraged to use a variety of 3D materials to transform the lockers into lived spaces of radical hope. Students in “Arts & Activism” spent the majority of the first half of this semester devoted to their creations.

Junior Tate Fonda, the exhibition assistant at Clifford Gallery, explained the rotation schedule of the gallery.

“Each year, exhibitions rotate on a varying schedule — we typically have two to four different exhibitions each semester,” Fonda said. “Artists may be from Colgate or they might visit Colgate from other universities.”

Clifford Gallery consists of two spaces: the large exhibition room and a smaller, more intimate, listening room. “The Locker Room” utilizes both of these spaces to display completed work along with an “archive” of the process.

Fonda further elaborated on the uniqueness of this exhibition. 

“What’s unique about the new exhibition, ‘The Locker Room,’ is that a faculty member or a member of the Colgate community will be visiting the gallery on Wednesdays and Fridays at noon to give a pep-talk to visitors,” Fonda said. “I’m looking forward to the pep talks, which include subjects such as sustainability and reproductive justice. ‘The Locker Room’ seems to be a community space where visitors will gather and empower each other throughout the rest of the semester.”

“The Locker Room” will be available for visitors to view during regular Clifford Gallery hours until June 30. All are invited to celebrate the students and faculty involved in the creation of this exhibit. For more information regarding “The Locker Room” and to see the list of students involved, visit the Clifford Gallery section of the Colgate website

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