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McGillart.ca, a new virtual gallery launched this fall by first-year French student Brad Hines, the life of the artist may have gotten a little easier at McGill.La vie d'artiste can be one of pecuniary hardship, existential anguish and despondent cigarette-smoking in obscure and lonely garrets. But thanks to
The site is a free, on-line display space for McGill students. It features photographs, paintings, drawings and poems, as well as photos and short profiles of contributors. One of the site's key functions is to provide exposure to aspiring artists who may have limited resources for promoting their work, said the Massachusetts-born Hines, a web designer who came to McGill this September to study French part time.
"I like the idea that I'm offering them a platform," said Hines, who hopes that as a free promotional tool McGilliart.ca will allow student artists to concentrate more on their art and less on trying to publicize it. "This is really ambitious, but I like the idea that [a McGill artist] could maybe even get discovered" through the site, Hines said.
While prestige and commercial success for a McGillart.ca member would be highly gratifying, the site does not exist to promote elitism and value judgements in art, but rather to bring out the artist in everyone and give students a chance to make connections with other art-enthusiasts at McGill, Hines said.
Hines spoke to many students who said they enjoyed making art but were reticent to show it off because it was too personal or they feared criticism. In the interests of overcoming such reluctance and encouraging as many students as possible to submit their creations, Hines chose not to include a visitor commentary function on the site and has a policy of accepting and posting every submission he receives.
"McGillart.ca doesn't think there's such a thing as good art or bad art," he said.
"I like the idea of people just taking the art for what it is."
The site grew out of what was originally a casual campus art club on the popular social networking site Facebook, he said. "I noticed almost immediately after I started the club that students were submitting art work using the photo submit function," he said. The volume of submissions, along with the encouragement of his friend and "muse," fifth-year engineering student Rebecca Buntrock, are what prompted him to build McGill's student artists a showroom of their own.