The Frame Gallery: Worth Adding to Your CMU Bucket List!

Although it didn’t make the CMU Bucket List, a special gem right at the corner of campus is The Frame Gallery—a student-run exhibition space for art, performance, and research-based projects. Your student won’t want to miss these cutting-edge, interdisciplinary works created and curated by their own peers. And, if they so desire, all students are encouraged to apply to host their own show at The Frame!

At a university as diverse and enriching as Carnegie Mellon, it’s easy for students to get a serious case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Especially on the weekends, with sports games, club events, and fun off-campus opportunities, students can have a hard time choosing how to spend their time. With so many options, a good tactic is to broaden one’s horizons, and take small steps to explore the lesser-known parts of campus.

The Frame Blue Print

The Frame Gallery, located on the corner of Forbes Ave. and Margaret Morrison St.

The Frame Gallery is a great place to start. Originally the Woodlawn Pharmacy, Aladar Marberger bought and founded the Frame in 1969. The Gallery was formerly known as The Forbes Street Gallery, or Forbes Gallery, until 1998, when it was renamed The Frame. Today, it is entirely student-run and financially supported by the Joint Funding Committee and the School of Art.

Why should students visit The Frame?

Anne Crumley, 2019 alumna and former Frame Business Director, says this institution: “provides a platform for students to express themselves creatively and share their interests with others.” Even if art isn’t “their thing,” it’s important for students to support, learn about, and interact with other subgroups in the campus community.

Many visitors end up surprised—they see that creativity isn’t reserved to just artists or designers. More and more, people are understanding the benefits of creativity in all paths of study, and it’s an especially important career-asset to have. A recent study by Adobe and Forrester Consulting found that 82% of companies believe there’s a strong connection between creativity and success. Across the board, fostering innovative and imaginative thinking makes people happier, and better-equipped to handle problems.

Located at the intersection of Forbes and Margaret Morrison, The Frame hosts a series of exhibitions in the fall and spring semesters. While familiar to the College of Fine Arts students, this venue is little known to some of the other schools on campus—but applications to showcase work are open to anyone, regardless of artistic background.

Anne clarified that “the biggest things we look for are passion of the applicant and a cohesive body of work— this can be in media, topic, or really anything.” The Frame selection committee considers all kinds of unique exhibition approaches, as long as applicants clearly express why the space is needed and what viewers can gain from the proposed content.

What is a showcase?

A showcase, or an exhibition, is a display of something created by a person or persons. In the traditional sense, gallery shows are events where artists can show different things they’ve made in one space—with special care and emphasis on the curation of these works.

The Frame

Inside the Frame Gallery

At the Frame, students have showcased all types of work: painting, sculpture, interactive projects, film-screenings, performances, concerts, group showcases, virtual reality or interactive game play experiences, panel discussions, social justice gatherings, and more. There are infinite ways to use the space, and there’s no right or wrong answers!

“I loved the 2016 grant show, Liquid Bread,” Anne says. “Josh Archer, Anna Baldi, and Chris Copeland really transformed the space by building walls within the gallery to hang their art. Also, there was a mountain of delicious bread, butter, and jam available to eat!”

How does it work?

Students can apply for a show during the first few weeks of the fall and spring semesters by writing a short proposal. If accepted, participating students meet with the Frame Staff, sign a code of conduct, and pay a security deposit to ensure that the space is respected and properly maintained for each successive show. Shows are up for one weekend, and the opening events are typically hosted on Fridays from 6-9 p.m. The openings are always free—anyone who’s interested can stop by for food, refreshments and art!

The Frame Reception

Carnegie Mellon students enjoying a show opening at the Frame.

The Frame is a chance to see emerging artists and to participate in the discussion and appreciation of their work. The Frame also provides a lens into the minds of certain CMU students: they show what they think is pertinent, and in the process, challenge typical notions of thought and constraints of material. For participating students, a Frame show is an important venture in self-promotion; it’s an opportunity to showcase hard work and a cohesive, fully-executed vision.

What were some exhibitions last year?

Fall 2018 Program

Sarah Kim & Grace Simmons (Oct. 5-7)  – Entitled “The Hot Seat,” this was a collaborative showcase of paintings, drawings, and one short film piece. Based around the idea of interviewing strangers in a park, this exhibition explored ideas of identity, representation, and human connection.

Yejin Lee & Tsohil Bhatia (Oct. 12-14) – Entitled “Documents of Passage” this exhibition showed the video and photographic works from two second-year MFA candidates. Both artists responded to changes in their environment and the passage of the day.

Stephen Michaels (Oct. 26-28) – Entitled “Phonetics” this exhibition was mixed media, with works in photography, writing, drawing, costumes/wearables, and sculptural installation. Pulling from Judeo-Christian, Greco-Roman, and esoteric and occult stories, this show reinterpreted myths and symbols to create a new visual language.

Kate Busatto (Nov. 2-4) – Entitled “Savage,” this was a theatrical performance about the lives of river workers in Pittsburgh. This piece incorporated live acting and video of interviews with deckhands, welders, and pilots.

Lisa Goncharova (Nov. 9-11) – Entitled “Primordial Thread,” this painting and drawing show examined the intersection of ecology, spirituality, and language. This artist also examined the interplay between layers, scale, and surface texture, and how these factors impact viewer experience.

Becky Groves (Nov. 16-18) – Entitled “Clean Air Started Here,” this painting and drawing show focused on American small towns and the tension between architecture and landscape, how different communities live, and what dreams intermixed with reality can look like.

Heidi Wiren & Co. (Nov. 30 – Dec. 2) – Entitled “Collective Skin,” this group show featured a class of Advanced Sculpture students. Showcasing both objects and durational performances, this exhibition explored themes of identity, behavior, social constructs, appearance, politics, and more.

Want to see what’s happening this year?

To hear more about Frame events, visit the School of Art events page and the Frame website. And be sure to give them a follow on Instagram!

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