“Art for Lunch” is a tradition for Newman University’s Steckline Gallery. The event is held the Tuesday after every Final Friday show and provides the community with a chance to listen to the Final Friday artist talk about their work.
“The intention is to make art more relatable,” said Shannon Johnston, director of Steckline Gallery. “For non-artists, I think it’s very easy to get overwhelmed in the gallery, or in any art gallery or museum, to come in and be like, ‘I know this artist is trying to tell me a story but I don’t get it.’ So this kind of breaks that down and it’s a great opportunity to learn about how they look at art and how you engage in the artwork.”
The event is always free and open to the public. Lunch is provided but attendants are welcome to bring their own. Typically, around 50 or 60 students, staff, faculty and community members attend the event.
The presenting artists are encouraged to talk about the work in the gallery and explain their process.
Johnston said, “We’ve got good work coming in that will probably initiate the conversation and learning more about the process, and what compels these artists, to make these things and explain why this is an important story for them to tell.”
Johnston is only the first part of the process of selecting the artists who display work in Steckline and present at Art for Lunch. She initially looks through the proposals and then passes them on to the Newman fine and performing arts advisory board to help make the final decision.
The purpose of the board is to support and sustain the fine and performing arts as a vital aspect of liberal education at Newman University.
Artists who are “visually interesting, technically good and consistent with their content and their form” are what Johnston looks for.
“Walking the fine line of ‘provoking and pushing’ is the gallery’s goal. I want to engage, I want to challenge, but I don’t want to put anyone off. I don’t want to offend. But I would love to start a heated debate. I think good art should do that,” explained Johnston.
Johnston attended the annual Newman University Summer Symposium — a 3-day event for Newman faculty and staff for the purpose of engaging an interdisciplinary dialogue around Catholic intellectual tradition — and was inspired by John Henry Cardinal Newman’s perspective on education.
“I don’t think (Cardinal) Newman would want us to have a gallery of just pretty photos. I think he would want us to elevate the conversation and challenge ourselves and think hard and think deeper, and to dialogue,” she said.
Art for Lunch is a great opportunity for students to connect with an artist who’s doing what they love.
Keep up with the Steckline Gallery Facebook page to see upcoming shows and Art for Lunch presentations.