The rise of Gallery 360

Northeastern’s Gallery 360 is now a con­tender among Boston’s must-​​see art gal­leries, according to campus curator Bruce Ployer.

In the six years since its incep­tion, the gallery has made the trans­for­ma­tion from an after­thought to a major focal point on campus, exhibiting a range of art from stu­dents to inter­na­tion­ally known artists.

“People didn’t think about us six years ago,” said Ployer, “but they are now.”

The 1,000-square-foot gallery is located in a cor­ridor between the Curry Stu­dent Center and Ell Hall. Its cur­rent exhi­bi­tion, “Celebrity Type,” fea­tures more than a dozen iconic type­writers once owned by the likes of Ernest Hem­ingway, John Lennon, and Theodore Kaczynski.

The gallery hosts about 20 shows a year, according to Ployer. As its pop­u­larity grows, he vowed to keep its target audi­ence of stu­dents intrigued by fre­quently show­casing new exhibits. Starting Sept. 28, the gallery will host pieces by Derek Boshier, a British artist who works with numerous media, including paint­ings, films and instal­la­tions. Later this fall Mitch Weiss’ pho­to­graphic com­par­a­tive study “Sister Cities” will be on dis­play at the gallery.

Ployer, who was named curator in Sep­tember 2012, noted that Northeastern’s growing com­mit­ment to the arts could be attrib­uted to Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun.

“The pres­i­dent is very inter­ested in the arts,” Ployer said. “He gave us a charge very early on about what he wanted the gallery to achieve.”

That plan included show­casing a variety of medium from North­eastern stu­dents, fac­ulty, and Boston-​​area artists, as well as bringing nation­ally and inter­na­tion­ally renowned exhibits to campus.

One of the first hur­dles was finding a space to host the exhibits. Years ago, artists exhib­ited their work in a room in the Curry Stu­dent Center even though it was not designed to serve as an art gallery, recalled Assis­tant Vice Pres­i­dent of Stu­dent Affairs Marina Macomber.

“The artists really weren’t in a space that high­lighted their work,” Macomber said. “I remember the day we walked down toward the cor­ridor and one of the senior team mem­bers had this vision of cre­ating the art gallery in the cor­ridor. It was hard to see at first because it was just a cor­ridor between the two buildings.”

Over time, Macomber and her col­leagues began to realize that hanging art from the corridor’s walls would make for a unique viewing expe­ri­ence. “Then,” she explained, “we began to say, ‘Now we have this unbe­liev­able opportunity.’”

With its floor-​​to-​​ceiling glass walls, the gallery’s design allows passers-​​by to view exhibits even when the gallery is tech­ni­cally closed, noted Robert Grier, director of oper­a­tions at the Curry Stu­dent Center. “It is the longest opened gallery in the world,” he said with a laugh. “Just because of the loca­tion and design, we never close.”

An advi­sory com­mittee of stu­dents, fac­ulty, and staff chooses the exhibits, which have ranged from an explo­ration of Swiss graphic design to a ret­ro­spec­tive of Negro League Baseball.

“I look for shows that talk to the heart of the uni­ver­sity,” Ployer said. “My goal is to not only to engage but expand stu­dents’ thinking about what art is.”

Gallery 360 Celebrity TypeStu­dents also play a major role in the gallery’s day-​​to-​​day oper­a­tion. Abby Daggett, a 2013 grad­uate, worked on co-​​op in the gallery last fall. Daggett, who earned a bach­elor of sci­ence in psy­chology major with minor in art his­tory, said the co-​​op was one of a few she found in the art industry that offered prac­tical expe­ri­ence. She now works at a gallery in Jamaica Plain part-​​time and said the expe­ri­ence she gained at Gallery 360 equipped with her the tools nec­es­sary to work in the art industry.

“This was one of the only co-​​ops I could find where you had a role in the curating process and com­mu­ni­cated with artists,” Daggett said. “It is such a hands-​​on expe­ri­ence, which is rare to find as an undergraduate.”

This article was originally published by news@Northeastern.