ISSUED: 10 February 2021
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens
SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the ability for visitors to view exhibits at Shepherd University’s Phaze 2 Gallery, so the gallery has found a way to make the artwork available virtually through Exhibbit, an online interactive 3D virtual gallery.
“Crowded artist receptions and group events in our small gallery are not currently options in a surging pandemic,” said Evan Boggess, gallery director. “We have had to restrict our regular hours to effectively control the number of people in the space at one time and calls for private gallery tours and walkthroughs have dropped off, so I had to find a way to get the incredible work by the artists in our programming in front of our students and the community.”
Boggess said the space represented in the virtual Exhibbit gallery is similar to, but not identical to, that of Phaze 2. The measurements of the artwork in the virtual space are scaled exactly to the actual pieces. In addition to giving campus and community members the opportunity to view artwork, the virtual gallery has the potential to reach beyond Shepherdstown.
“I can project the programming in our small gallery to anywhere in the world,” Boggess said. “Potential students can remotely experience the incredible work being made by our current students, faculty, and visiting artists.”
Boggess said visitors can navigate through the virtual environment in 3D, much like a first-person video game. They can approach a work on the wall and examine it closely and then back away and see how the work changes at a distance. Information for work is clearly displayed on the digital walls, along with links to the artist’s website and other relevant resources.
“We hope that this gives virtual viewers a more complete experience of the art,” Boggess said.
The virtual gallery lags one exhibition behind what’s shown in the actual space. Currently, work by Shepherd alumna Nevada Tribble is on display in Exhibbit, while Phaze 2 prepares to install an in-person exhibit of 3D printed pottery-based sculptures by Jason Hackett that will run March 1-30. Boggess said if Exhibbit ends up being a good fit, an option exists to upgrade the subscription to include a to-scale mockup of Phaze 2 Gallery.
Aside from using Exhibbit for Phaze 2 Gallery shows, the Department of Contemporary Art and Theater plans to use the virtual space so capstone students can host their thesis exhibits in April.
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