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Department renames Isis Gallery as AAHD Gallery

| Friday, January 22, 2016

Since the rise of the Islamic State terrorist group, commonly known as “ISIS,” many businesses and organizations with the same acronym have modified their names to avoid any negative connotations. Notre Dame’s department of art, art history and design department recently followed suit, renaming the Isis Gallery in O’Shaughnessy Hall as the AAHD Gallery.

Originally created by students, intended for exhibitions of student work and named after the mythological goddess, the existence of the Isis Gallery dates back to the 1970s, Richard Gray, chair of the department, said, when the art department was housed in the old fieldhouse.

“I came to the department in the 1980s, and it was already a gallery, an operating space. And it was started by students, probably in the old fieldhouse,” he said. “The department occupied the old fieldhouse for about 10 years, prior to moving to Riley Hall. They never had a permanent home, and the old fieldhouse was kind of this ad hoc space they took over, and it has since become the [Clarke Memorial Fountain].”

After the demolition of the fieldhouse, the gallery moved to O’Shaughnessy Hall, where students and graduate students continue to install and take down work, which is a range of art media across all disciplines, including design work.

“We don’t have a particular staff person that [is] doing that,” he said.

The AAHD gallery currently shows undergraduate and graduate student and professional work, Gray said.

“The gallery is there for us to showcase professional work from the outside for the benefit of the student community. It’s there to feature our own student work, to students and faculty, to the Notre Dame community and to showcase what we do as artists and designers,” he said.

The AAHD gallery exhibits professional work for two-thirds of the academic year and shows student work the rest of the time, Gray said. The work of a second-year graduate student is currently being installed, and senior undergraduate work will be displayed at the end of the semester.

“Most of the shows during the semester are from artists beyond the department. We have a small lecture series here, where we invite people to come and speak, and one of the options is for them to have an exhibition in the gallery to go along with their talk.”

The location of the gallery in O’Shaughnessy Hall is partially practical, Gray said, because of a lack of space in Riley Hall.

“The more beneficial way to look at is that the gallery is a way for us to have outreach on the campus, to make what we do available to people beyond our building,” he said. “Having art in a public place creates a great conversation with just the public at large — in this case, with a lot of students — rather than locating galleries in art spaces, locating galleries in non-art spaces is beneficial, as a conversation starter, as outreach, in sharing our intellectual curiosity and intellectual production with other people.”

By displaying student work, the gallery “completes the circle” for an artist or designer, not unlike publication completes the circle for a writer, he said.

“This a way of you completing that circle, from producer to consumer, and having that conversation at large with people beyond your own interest and constituencies,” he said. “Our students have the experience of exhibiting work, of putting themselves out there in the public for commentary and feedback.”

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About Catherine Owers

Senior News Writer Catherine Owers is a senior from New Orleans, Louisiana. She is studying English and Theology.

Contact Catherine