The art gallery at Chabot opened twelve years ago, and now it’s closing the doors. According to the art history professor Diane Zuliani, there was no coordination funding and an annual operating budget of zero. Professor Zuliani invested her time in the gallery for twelve years and was never able to institutionalize a funding source. Professor Zuliani stated, “this was an ongoing and protracted shortfall not in anyway related to our new Dean, Deonne Kunkel Wu. It needs to be clear that Deonne bears no fault for this turn of events.”
According to Professor Zuliani the gallery was created with a grant of $23,000 from Partnership for Excellence, a nonprofit organization. The grant allowed her to convert a classroom into an art gallery. In 2003 she received the grant, and the gallery held its first exhibit in 2005.
The gallery has held over 30 exhibits in the past twelve years. Dean of Arts, Media and Communication Deonne Kunkel Wu recalled her favorite moment was “a poem a student had produced, about how she was in the arts and needed to take an astronomy class. And when she got the class it was just so inspiring to her. It just changed her life and the way she related to the universe.”
Through the art gallery, Diane brought the community together in ways that strengthened us. The gallery has attracted the faculty, students, and the community to see new artwork. It was a place where students could express their feelings through art and the audience could look and relate to the artists. While the art gallery was open the impact that it had on students was motivation. It was the place where hundreds of Chabot students first exhibited their artwork publicly, according to Professor Zuliani.
Katelin Kaiiag, a former art student, said, “art is meant for self-expression and exploration. Not to please others… It’s an important aspect of art that one piece of art could mean more to me than you and vice-versa.”
In addition to the inspirational impact on students, it had a significant impact on the National Association of School of Arts and Design (NASAD) accreditation team. NASAD had this statement about the gallery, “The Chabot Art Gallery exhibition program appears to be ambitious and varied in theme, ranging from student and faculty exhibitions to visiting artists’ work from an impressive variety of media and geographic locations-from local to international.
The gallery has made a tremendous mark in the lives of students, faculty and the community. With the closing of the gallery, it will have a negative impact on the students and faculty. Dean Kunkel Wu added “not having a place to go that draws me to a higher purpose, or elicits an emotional response, that brings healing and connection is a loss to me personally. It is a loss to all students across campus because we are here for students, we are here to help them build their voice. Now, we don’t have that for our community, students or faculty.”
Professor Williams, instructor of Economics, in a campus-wide email stated, “I would like to add that since this program is so fundamental to any school that lays claim to support of the humanities, I have to wonder if there is some unseen strategy on the part of those who allowed this suspension to happen. It seems somehow akin to the idea that all education should be online. I would like to urge all the faculty to not let this issue pass without a fight. Chabot has many small mistakes in the past. This is not a small mistake.”
Erica Mones, a former student who took Zuliani’s museum studies classes, went on to get an MA in Museum Studies and was teaching our gallery classes. She had this to say “In regards to the gallery, I do not blame (Diane). It’s very unfortunate that there has been no support for such an important space the entire time it existed. On behalf of all of the students who took the classes over the years, thank you. Thank you for dedicating countless hours to make that gallery look the absolute best it could…. I have many fond memories there both as a student as well as a teacher. Seriously, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU Diane”