UAA’s hidden masterpieces brought to life in the Kimura Gallery

Michael Thomas, The Northern Light, October 26, 2016

In a land far away, where the halls are lined with student and faculty work, where your imagination is brought to life, lies the Kimura Art Gallery.


Located on the second floor of the art building, most students outside of the art department have never heard of the internationally renowned gallery lying just on the other side of campus. The Kimura Gallery has shown work from artists all over the world, and their hope, according to their website, is to show a “space that provides students, faculty, and the community with the opportunity to view and experience artwork that explores national and international contemporary culture.”


The Kimura Gallery is made possible by Charles Licka, his wife Geanne Ilgen, and Becky White. Their hard work and dedication to the gallery is what keeps everything running smoothly.


Every year, the gallery reaches out to artists with different backgrounds and provides them with a safe place to showcase their work. Coming up this November will be Morrocan artist Lalla Essaydi. Essaydi is known throughout the art world, and her work has been displayed in New York, England, Dubai and France.


Essaydi is a photographer that uses calligraphy and henna in her work to help portray Morrocan culture. Essaydi has stated on her website that her work is meant to help erase some of the stereotypes about Arab culture, and she makes is very clear that she doesn’t try to promote one culture over another.


Moreover, the diversity here at UAA is shown prominently at The Kimura Gallery and the shows that are put on display for the world to see.


Two of the faculty artists, Deborah Tharp and Gary Mealor, use their work to express different values and beliefs in society.


Tharp had two photographs displayed in the first part of the Biennial Faculty Exhibition, “The Tree of Life” and “War Dancer.” Both pieces represent life, and how easy it is to destroy it. However, the Tree of Life has a powerful, subtle, way of portraying this.


“The ax is life, and anyone can pick it up and cut it [the tree] down,” Tharp said.


Tharp was inspired to create this piece after the terrorist attacks in Orlando, Florida. The piece was meant to create an idea among the viewers that we ourselves can choose life or death and that we have the power to change that.


Mealor only had one piece in the first show. The massive watercolor needed two frames to stay put. “Shades of Blinds is a collision between coincidental discovery and spontaneous construction,” Mealor said, and his work is a journey with an unknown destination.


Both ‘The Tree of Life” and “Shades of Blinds” show the passion professors in the art department have about their work, and how enthusiastic they are about sharing their work with students.


Becky White, the assistant curator for the gallery is also a professor in the art department. “Students need to visit the gallery to understand others… [and] so you can see what the arts is about,” White said. White is dedicated to her work in the gallery, but she was very adamant that there were people even more dedicated than her. “It may be inappropriate and I may sound inappropriate, and with due respect to the Kimura’s, I would love to see this gallery named after Charles Licka and his wife Geanne Ilgen.”


Licka and Ilgen are the true masterminds behind the gallery, they help make the gallery welcoming towards everyone and provide a warm environment for aspiring artists.


Check out the Kimura Gallery by going to the art department website and searching the gallery, or even better you can go and see the inspiring art yourself Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the second floor of the Art Building.