Langen Art Gallery opens in Laurier library

Photo by Marco Pedri
Photo by Marco Pedri

After moving from Wilfrid Laurier University’s John Aird Centre, the Robert Langen Art Gallery opened at the university’s library to a crowd of students, staff, faculty and community members on October 5.

The gallery, located on the southeast corner of the main floor of the library, features a multi-dimensional, functional space where artists can spotlight various forms of art. The space is also available as an events hub and will include artists from the Laurier and Kitchener-Waterloo communities. The gallery’s move to the library reinforces the university’s plan to evolve the library into a cultural learning commons.

Suzanne Luke, curator of the Robert Langen Art Gallery, believes it was a great idea to move the gallery into the library.

“[The gallery is] really accessible to students, staff and faculty, so for optics sake, it’s in a great building—it’s in a great space,” she said.

Gohar Ashoughian, university librarian, and Nick Dinka, director of communications and cultural programming, previously talked about ideas to bring culture into the library before the opening of the gallery. According to Ashoughian and Dinka, part of their vision was to make the library a place where people could access and interact with information through different technological mediums.

“Now that technology is changing the way we use information, there’s opportunity to use this place in all kinds of interesting, exciting, different ways to access and use and create information, content, [and] stories,” said Dinka.

“Information is captured in other elements of life. Music is information, so if you think about it, music is information, visual arts is information, it’s just delivered in a different way,” said Ashoughian.

“So if we are talking about a holistic way to interact with information, we are creating that place to enable that.”

On opening night, guests were invited to experience a musical piece by pianist Eve Egoyan and installation artist David Rokeby, called “Surface Tension”, which was performed in the gallery. Luke said she chose to use their work because it was interdisciplinary. The performance featured Egoyan playing the piano while Rokeby created visualizations of the music.

“Eve and David are acclaimed international artists so I thought that was a nice way to start the opening of the space and what we’ll be doing in the future,” said Luke.

According to Luke, the gallery space was also interactive at the opening, as guests were invited to come into the space and perform their own music and see their sound as visuals.

“I think if there’s exhibition that viewers can engage in, they take away a little bit more in the visit.”

Dinka noted how the interactivity of the space fits in with their vision of the library, as they hope to get more people engaged with the gallery.

“We want students to come in and create art in the spaces so it’s not just about an artist up on a pedestal that we’re worshipping from afar; it’s about we’re trying to create that community here,” he said.

The library is hoping to connect with members of the larger K-W community.

According to Ashoughian, tickets for the opening night of the gallery were sold out 48 hours after emails were sent out.

“I think that connection [between the Laurier Library and the K-W Region] is a very important element of what we are within the community and this is one way we can contribute to that connection,” Ashoughian continued. “I think that in itself has been such a fantastic evidence of the fact that we have done something right, people want to come.”

Since the opening, several events are already booked in the gallery. The opening of the LIFT series, which features local artists, is happening on October 20. The gallery will also hold other events such as Music in the Library and the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction, 2016 Award presentation.

“This was all a vision, but when you have something like what we have right now, the new Robert Langen Art Gallery in the library building, that is the manifestation of that vision. It has become a reality. It didn’t stay somewhere on the shelf, we saw it and it happened I think that’s the most exciting thing about it,” said Ashoughian.

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