Students to exhibit art at college's M Gallery

MIDDLEBURY — If you haven’t been to the new M Gallery, above the Storm Café on Mill Street in Middlebury, mark your calendar for Saturday, Oct. 15, when Middlebury College students Sam Tolzmann and Madeleine Dai will host an opening of their work at 3 p.m. Wine and light refreshments will be served.

The M Gallery was chartered this year in the Old Stone Mill building to bring student artwork to a formal venue close to town. When the college purchased the Old Stone Mill two years ago, they offered office and workshop space to students for creative projects, but this is the first time that the main floor gallery space has been organized into a dedicated exhibition venue.

“There are a couple spaces on campus where students can exhibit their work, but they don’t feel very diverse,” said Tolzmann. “It seems like you only get work exhibited in Johnson as a senior studio art major.”

Dai is a studio art major, and Tolzmann studies literature. Both are only sophomores. They’ve exhibited work on campus before, but the M Gallery feels like a step up.

 “It’s exciting to be in town,” Dai said. M Gallery is within sight of Main Street and just down the hill from the Frog Hollow Crafts Center, where exceptionally talented local artists and craftspeople exhibit and sell their work.

“I wasn’t thinking about selling art,” Dai said. “I’m not going to put prices next to anything, but if someone is interested in buying, I won’t say no.”

This integration between town and campus is one of the primary goals of the gallery’s founders, Nerissa Khan, Cha Tori, Lila Leopold and Elori Kramer.

“The location is perfect,” said Kramer, who was on the Old Stone Mill advisory board last semester and helped to write M Gallery’s charter. “And it’s exciting to offer a respectable gallery space to students.”

Part of the gallery’s mission is to give student artists an opportunity for professional development. Both Tolzmann and Dai feel that this exhibition is good not only for their resumes but for the experience of displaying work at an off-campus venue.

The show is called “Thaumatrope,” after the Victorian children’s toy that alternates two images quickly enough for the eye to splice them together — like flowers and a vase. Dai’ and Tolzmann’s pen and ink drawings focus on nostalgia and home, though Dai said those themes are more metaphorical than literal. The two have been in several drawing classes together at Middlebury, and both plan to study abroad at Oxford.

“Our work compliments each other well,” Dai said.

Their styles mesh well, Tolzmann said, “but they don’t overlap.”

Kramer said she hopes to bring artists in many media, including performance art, to the M Gallery, and to host a lecture and discussion series. They’ve already displayed a sculpture exhibit by Ki Chan Lee, and Kramer said the gallery will open a new exhibit every two to three weeks.

The M Gallery will have open hours all year Friday, 3–6 p. m., and Saturday and Sundays, noon until 6 p.m.


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