New gallery on campus showcases the art of failure

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The entrance to the "Oops" art exhibit at Grant Hall on April 14, 2023. Photo by Kalin Sipes.

Within the cozy corner of the Grant Hall Gallery lies a broken and beautiful sculpture of a bull made of glazed, black ceramic. In immaculate detail, the sculpture shows each fragment and limb in a way that reimagines the pieces of the sculpture into a unified symbol of failure. 

The piece, titled Panaderia Del Toro by the artist Geo, can be found in Bailey Anderon’s “Oops” exhibit. Anderson, an MFA student here at UNLV, set out to create a space that celebrates the often experienced, but seldom spoken of, phenomenon of failure in art and creativity. 

Her efforts resulted in the creation of “Oops,” a collection of photographs, canvas prints, sculptures, paintings, portraits and other manner of visual art focusing on ideas of failure in a variety of contexts. 

“This exhibit was inspired by a conversation I had with David Pagel, the art critic at the LA Times. He talked a lot about what it takes to build a studio practice to last long-term, and he mentioned four streams of work: your main line of research, your second line of research, your third line of research for technical development, and your fourth line of research that goes directly into the trash. I was really inspired by that fourth line, since there’s some really good work in that line,” said Anderson in response to her inspirations and goals behind the exhibit. 

As such, the pieces in the exhibit are embodiments of failure in different academic, artistic and cultural senses.

Upon entering the intimate space of the gallery, guests are greeted by an introductory speech by Ginger-Marie Wilkins, with the last line honing in on the exhibit’s theme: “Failure is no one noun, no single word, no simple answer; but least of all things, failure is not an end.” 

In the corner of the exhibit, viewers can find an installation by Katie B Funk of different paper chains depicting the shortcomings, but uniqueness, of nonconformity. Attendees can also view an intentionally shattered, yet carefully arranged installation of a broken sculpture of a rabbit in addition to rejection letters arranged in striking positions within extravagant frames. On the walls of the exhibit hang various acrylics on canvases depicting saddened expressions, symbols of ruin and blurred environments. 

But in their presentation of failure, the pieces use eye-catching pinks, blues and oranges to take pride in the idea of failure not only as a method of beginning, but a mode of rebirth. 

Anderson also stated that she’s proud to show off the work, especially since some of the pieces may not have seen attention in a conventional gallery setting. 

“Galleries tend to be very cold, private, almost religious experiences where someone can go into that space and spend some time alone with the pieces. So when people come into the space of ‘Oops’ I take a lot of pride in being able to talk about all of the work and making people understand the vulnerability that it takes for an artist to share their work with us,” shared Anderson regarding what she hopes to instill in visitors of the exhibit.

“I wanted to lean into the idea of failure to build a sense of community in the space, especially with the maximalist approach that I went for,” added Anderson. 

An opening reception was held on April 14 from 5 to 9 p.m. Guests came out dressed as cowboys or vampires for a uniquely fun take on a gallery reception. Visitors also had the option of participating in live tarot card readings, with the evening capped off by a performance from Raggedy Stan. Anderson also handed out awards to the artists featured in the exhibit, with some clever award names like “My Grandmother’s Favorite Piece.” 

When asked about why people should visit the exhibit, Anderson said, “People should attend so they can reframe what it means to be an artist. If you don’t know where to start [as an artist], it’s good to start just by trying. But if you’re not an artist, it’s a really good way to see what it’s like from the outside looking in of all the work that takes place behind the scenes.” 

“Oops” is on display at the Grant Hall Gallery from April 10 to April 21. For additional information on art around campus and future galleries, check out UNLV’s Department of Art website.

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