Evolution of The Rabbit Gallery

On May 13 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., The Rabbit Gallery invited a variety of student artists and audience members to the exhibit’s opening. Located at 215 E. College Ave., the gallery gives an opportunity to both student and local artists to exhibit and sell their own works and develop a close relationship between Lawrence University and the Appleton community.

The theme of The Rabbit Gallery this year is “Reconstructing/Deconstructing Identity.” Many exhibitions in the gallery spotlight the idea of identity by modernizing the exhibiting methods and offering various art mediums, such as paintings, films, sculptures and printmaking. Students at the event provided food and live music for the viewers, and held other events including a book event and dance performance.

“It’s not an art-specific, but an interdisciplinary project,” said junior Holly Butterfield, Head of Installation for the gallery. The Rabbit Gallery evolved out of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E) interdisciplinary area, appealing to a diverse group of people with different backgrounds and interests. Since the process of preparing this art gallery requires curating art exhibitions, balancing the budget, working with real estate agents and physically installing the works, The Rabbit Gallery remains applicable to many different jobs. The project draws active participation from not only studio arts major students, but students majoring in economics, art history, and government.

The Rabbit Gallery has remained a combined project of both classwork and voluntary participation since its founding in 2010, attracting many students and outside visitors as well. Coordinator of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program and Lecturer of Economics Gary Vaughan oversees the overall project and administers the personal financing for the gallery. Initially conceived as an idea by one student, The Rabbit Gallery has expanded its size and the diversity of artwork, even developing a partnership with non-profit organization NAMI Fox Valley in 2014 and helping to change the perception of mental illness. Following the consecutive successful years, this sixth Rabbit Gallery today welcomes a variety of art media from both student and community artists and features an array of captivating events such as “Identity in the Arts”, a panel discussion, dance performance, creative nonfiction class and poetry reading.

Directors and members of the project have been preparing for this event for six months, from interviewing potential artists and coordinating details of the plan to making the application. This time-consuming work of preparation eventually offered an inspiring experience for all participants. “The entire process of renovating this ugly, dirty bar into a gallery space happened in seven days, including all the works of painting the walls, hanging the artwork and cleaning the gallery. The best thing about this hard work is experiencing the change that happened so rapidly because many Rabbit members, volunteers and other people have endeavored to renovate this place together,” said Butterfield. Senior Aleisha Barton, the current Assistance Director and Marketing for the Rabbit Gallery, also added, “It was such a cool feeling to see the biggest opening this year because I started this project my freshman year. As the project gradually improves every year, I see that this event actually impacts this community and makes a difference by creating a space for outlet that we don’t have in Lawrence.”

Until June 5, The Rabbit Gallery will be open from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. This “pop-up” gallery is free for everyone and welcomes anyone to view the art.