Continuing Education

A Sense of Community at the NSC Art Gallery

On Tuesday, July 18th until August 17th Continuing Education (CE) presents its 3rd Annual Student Art Show located in the North Seattle College Art Gallery. Though the NSC gallery sees a wide range of exhibits, the CE student art show was untraveled ground until a mere three years ago. As public awareness Imageof the show grows so, too, has the creative range and volume of CE student submissions. The success of this annual event is thanks in no small part to the efforts of gallery coordinator, Amanda Knowles—a professional artist whose devotion to administration and education has been of tremendous advantage to the art show’s success.

With a BA in Fine Art from the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA in printmaking from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Knowles has maintained an expansive career in the arts. “I have worked in galleries, for an art consultant, for an architect, assisting an artist, in an auction house, teaching of all sorts, and more,” she says. “I have been on the board of Seattle Print Arts for many years. I have hung many, many shows and three years ago I was able to bring all of my knowledge of the gallery world to work for me in my job as the gallery director.”

Though the focus of her undergraduate studies was painting, Knowles found additional inspiration in printmaking. “I am a printmaker who has an MFA in Intaglio. Ever since graduating in 2002, I have been working back towards drawing and, if pushed, painting. I love the spaces in between media and combining media and am really happy there. In the last 5-7 years I have been doing a lot of screen printing and combining it more and more with drawing.”

In addition to her studio practice, for the last year and a half, Knowles has been collaborating with local Seattle painter, Emily Gherard, making large scale drawings with the intent of pulling their work into the realm of the third dimension. To expand her own work knowledge, Knowles says: “I have taken a 3D modeling class for credit, which just allowed me to see how little I understand the 3D world, but reminded me that I have an innate and a bit cloudy understanding of mathematics,” she says.  “I have (also) taken two Continuing Education scanning electron microscopy classes and with both of these I have made a small series of hybrid drawing/digital prints. The last of these classes allowed me to apply for and receive a grant from ArtistTrust, a Seattle-based non-profit, to create a series of prints.”

As the NSC Art Gallery coordinator for the last three years, Knowles has found a great deal of satisfaction in working with the whole school to create a community around the art gallery. “I enjoy working with the students in the gallery and having classes come use the gallery, whether ESL, Art, or English. I want to keep expanding the reach of the gallery to include the entire campus.”

Building sturdy gallery patronage is a challenge, but one that’s inspired Knowles to explore NSC Art Gallery exhibit themes that are not only culturally and thematically diverse, but are linked back to current student interest as they are ultimately chosen by the students (through the NSC Art Group). “I find it difficult to get people outside of the North Seattle College community to come to campus to see shows,” says Knowles. “(So) four shows per year are curated group shows that feature artists who work in a theme. This year the four themes were Collage/Assemblage, ImageContemporary Portraiture, Architecture, and Science and Art based in the artifacts that the science department on campus paired with artwork by artists that work with related themes.”

Not one to feel discouraged over gallery attendance, Knowles regards bolstering community support in much the way she would any collaborative effort. “I feel that the shows the gallery puts on are interesting and there is something in them for everyone,” she says. “The two campus favorites every year are the NSC Student Art Show and the CE Student Art Show. These shows are really great displays of what students are learning in these programs.”

For Knowles, the benefits found in supporting both the NSC and CE art shows are clearly evident. “It feels incredible to watch and interact with students who have never shown their work before,” she says. “To see the mixture of joy, vulnerability and fear shape its way into the pride of what they have worked to accomplished is magical. To watch these students come the next year and help and urge on those who are new to showing is truly a gift.”

From Knowles perspective, the immediate campus community’s support for the NSC and CE student shows is without question. “The community really comes out for these shows,” she says. “With so many people participating we get a lot of new people to the gallery. Because we don’t have work study students working in the summer it is the one time during the year that I am able to sit in the gallery and engage with visitors.”

Organizing the CE art show is always exciting for Knowles and she usually finds herself enlisting the talents of 5-6 North art instructors as jurors. “I love it when each juror comes as their best self and is Imageable to talk through their thoughts,” she says.  “I really love hearing the opinions of each juror and then working to come to a consensus on the work. I also enjoy it that the jurors, artists themselves, realize the emotional as well as physical work that goes into the artwork that is submitted and the great position they are in to make these programs look their best.”

Knowles sees the CE student art show as a great capstone for the CE program. “It is a great community builder even within specific media. With multiple classes in ceramics and jewelry, for example, students can see what students in other classes are making and be inspired by this work. But most of all the show is a time to celebrate the work that these great classes produce and show students that they are not just taking a class, but are an active part of a bigger community created by these classes.”

According to Knowles, the CE program as a whole supports the credit program and vice versa as students frequently go back and forth between the two. “I have seen students who started out in the CE program find their voice and take classes towards an AFA and have seen students continue from the AFA program in the CE program when they finish.”

In looking forward the CE student art show in July, Knowles says, “This year I really hope to embrace the sense of community that this show brings out.”

Learn more about the CE's Student Art Show 2017.

All photos courtesy of Amanda Knowles.