University of South Florida Bachelor of Fine Arts students are now displaying their work in a professional-grade space thanks to the generosity of donor Carolyn M. Wilson.
“The students needed this, and I’m so happy I had the opportunity to give it to them,” said Carolyn M. Wilson, whose support allowed the College of The Arts to create the Carolyn M. Wilson Gallery.
“This is money well spent.”
Wilson, president of The Wilson Company, a Tampa-based property management and development firm, and proprietor/designer of the soon-to-be-opened CW’s Gin Joint in downtown Tampa, is both an alumna and longtime supporter of USF’s College of The Arts.
Twice a year for the past five years, she has hosted an exhibit and reception for BFA students at downtown Tampa’s Franklin Exchange, a three-building complex her company owns.
Inspired by her interactions with the students at those events, Wilson was eager to create a permanent exhibition space on campus. The Carolyn M. Wilson Gallery occupies a standalone structure adjacent to the Fine Arts Hall (FAH) and Contemporary Art Museum (CAM). The building previously housed studios for Master of Fine Arts students, and the College’s CNC router and rapid prototyping machinery.
Renovations included installing a new lighting grid, as well as a wall system that will allow for easy reconfiguration of the space.
BFA students are now exhibiting their work in the Carolyn M. Wilson Gallery for the first time. “Last Call,” a thesis show for graduating students, will be on display through May 10. For more information visit boxoffice.arts.usf.edu.
Throughout the year, leading up to the annual thesis event, the gallery will provide invaluable professional-development opportunities to students, said College of The Arts Dean James Moy.
“Every week, we’re going to have a new student show, featuring one to three students at a time. Students will be selected through a juried process,” Moy said.
“It’s going to give them a real handle on what it takes to be competitive in the professional art world.”
Moy said Wilson’s gift, in addition to elevating the experience of individual students, will help to raise the profile of the College of The Arts.
“The gallery puts us in the top tier of art schools in the United States,” he said.
The creation of the gallery began a domino-like series of facilities improvements, Moy said. The space formerly used for BFA exhibits, an old choral practice room within FAH, has been transformed into studios for MFA students, and rooms have been created specifically to house the CNC router and rapid prototyping machinery.
“All of this is going to make USF even more appealing to prospective students and their parents,” Moy said.
Wilson said she hopes the gallery will have the same effect on the lives of others as it has had on her own: