The love of art runs deep in two Issaquah High School students.
Taylor Wang and Alice Mao first met in their AP art class last year. Throughout that class they realized not many students have the accessibility to take such art classes, practice their skills, much less be able to show their work.
In the past, Mao took art classes at the Seattle Artist League under the teachings of Ruthie V. She said at the end of the class, she and other students were able to present their work in a gallery.
“Seeing my work on the wall and hearing people talk about it was great,” Mao said.
In January, Wang and Mao decided to create their own gallery to feature young artists — Student Art Spaces.
Student Art Spaces offers a venue for young creative minds to collaborate and showcase their work. Wang and Mao are dedicated to youth outreach and participation in the arts. They hope to share the privileges they have by giving as many emerging artists as possible a chance to display their work.
The Student Art Spaces mission is to form a creative space for marginalized communities to express themselves and their unique perspectives through a medium where they are largely underrepresented.
Student Art Spaces gallery is called “The Modern Youth Identity.”
Passionate about their project, Mao and Wang didn’t know exactly where to begin. Mao approached her former teacher at Seattle Artist League, Ruthie V., for advice.
“We met up with Ruthie and she said we could use her gallery space in Seattle,” Mao said.
V. became a mentor to the two students, offering advice and access to resources.
“When they approached me about their idea, I loved it,” V. said. “I’ve got the space, and I gave it to them to put on the show.”
Finding a space to hold their gallery show wasn’t their only task. Wang said they did copious amounts of research — learning from other galleries on how to start their own.
“I don’t think there are any other galleries that are quite like ours,” Wang said. “It was difficult since we had to start from scratch.”
However, the students said they received advice and support from other local galleries, including the Tacoma Art Museum.
In addition, the two students applied to various grants and launched a kickstarter campaign to help fund the project. For them, it was important to keep costs low for submitting artists. There are no entrance or submittal fees. Artists also do not have to pay to have their work framed and shipped to the gallery.
Submitting artists can send their work electronically, which is not typical of most galleries. Submitting artists also can send in different mediums of art, including music and film.
They did this to allow all students to have equal opportunity to submit their work.
“Our goal was to raise $500,” Wang said. “We raised almost $1,000.”
Over months of organizing, marketing and fundraising, they have received more than 180 entries.
“We’re really excited we’ve received so many entries, and we’re so grateful for all the support we’ve received,” Mao said.
The gallery show will be Aug. 31-Sept. 2 at 10219 Aurora Ave. North, Seattle.
“We really want to break the stigma that art is a bad career,” Mao said. “We want to show that anyone can do it, and that it can be a sustainable career.”