Drake University’s Anderson Gallery hosted a belated 25th anniversary celebration this past March.
The gallery, located on the main level of the Harmon Fine Arts Center, is a hidden gem on Drake’s campus managed by the department of art and design.
“We try to have a lot of voices represented,” said Lilah Anderson, Anderson Gallery Exhibitions and Outreach Manager.
The Anderson Gallery displays artwork from students and faculty as well as professional artists at the local, regional and national level.
Anderson (no relation to the gallery) said it’s special and important to show artists from a variety of career phases.
“[The exhibits show students] the beginning of hopefully what they can have more of,” Anderson said. “We want to show students what’s out there.”
In addition to the exhibitions, the Anderson Gallery puts on regular programming including faculty research, artist lectures, workshops and interdisciplinary panels.
“It’s one space where we’re showing a lot of different things,” Anderson said.
The Anderson Gallery has been serving Drake students and the Des Moines community since 1996. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and changes in leadership, they are celebrating a silver milestone this semester in 2023.
“In its 25-year history, the Anderson Gallery has left a mark on many individuals and on Drake University as an institution,” Department of Art and Design Chair John Fender said in the acknowledgements of the Anderson Gallery catalog.
The catalog was released in January as an alternative to an anniversary exhibition, the original idea to celebrate the Anderson Gallery’s anniversary.
“It’s a nice way to catalog the history of the gallery,” Anderson said.
The book is filled with pictures detailing the history of the gallery and quotes from notable artists and alums who benefited from the Anderson Gallery over the course of its 25 years.
“I can’t begin to express how invaluable the gallery work has been to me. So much of what I took from Drake is important in my work,” Drake alumna Ainsley Buhl said in a statement contributed to the catalog.
The 52nd annual Juried Student Exhibition is the latest display in the Anderson Gallery. Drake students submit their work for consideration, and a professional artist or curator is brought in to judge the submissions.
“Drake’s Anderson Gallery is such a unique experience for students,” sophomore Cora Siemonsma said. “I feel like getting to see my art hanging up in a gallery is just a little bit of validation. Yeah, I am a real artist, and I create things that make people feel things and make them happy.”
Siemonsma said the opportunity to see their own work in the Anderson Gallery is important, but students also get the opportunity to curate a collection of art from Des Moines area artists through a class offered by the art and design department.
“The Anderson Gallery is such an important part of Drake University’s art life,” she said.
The Anderson Gallery’s current exhibit featuring students’ work will close on April 2, but they are already preparing for the senior BFA exhibition that will run April 13 to May 13.
Siemonsma encourages the Drake community to visit the current exhibition and check out what the Anderson Gallery has to offer in the future.
“I really hope that more people on campus begin to learn about it,” Siemonsma said. “There’s a new curation there every couple of months and it’s free. You just have to show up.”