The Eastern Star Gallery is an innovative program that seeks artists to open up discussion inside Archer and in the outside community. Archer’s Gallery brings in contemporary artists and photographers three times a year in an exhibit directed and run by Archer girls. The final show displays Archer students’ work, juried by renowned artists and local gallery owners.
Patti Marcus, a retired Archer teacher and respected professional artist, started the Gallery as a club in 2006. She created the Gallery to bring all aspects of art to Archer. Likewise, head of school Elizabeth English says the mission of the Gallery is to “show girls the business side to art” and to turn passion into profit.
If one student in the Gallery class comes up with an idea, the whole class discusses it and sees if it could work. The girls come away with skills of “teaming with others and working with artists,” English explains.
From the start, the Gallery was about taking risks. Their first show back in 2006 featured Leonard Nimoy, a controversial photographer who uses nude models. His images question the traditional idea of beauty.
The Eastern Star Gallery debuted as a formal class just last year and experienced great success. It was featured in an LA Times article written by Jori Finkel. After seeing the work students in the class were doing, gallery owner Petter Fetterman, said, “You never know. One of these girls might be the next Ann Philbin.” Philbin is an acclaimed gallery director at the Hammer Museum.
This year, Chad Attie took over as the teacher of Gallery class. When the Oracle asked Attie why he wanted to take on this role, he said it was because he “was always interested in the Gallery and that it is a great concept for a high school.” Once known as The Archer Gallery, Attie wanted to go “back to the original name of the Eastern Star Gallery to rebrand the Gallery and bring it back to its roots.”
The Gallery wanted a new look to go along with its new leadership. Attie says he had changed “a lot of things like the gravel outside, painting the gallery a clean white, and taking the back room and turning it into a projection room or an intimate viewing area for future shows. Anything is possible in the Gallery.”
English praises Attie, saying, “Mr. Attie is taking the gallery into a really positive and forward thinking direction—pushing the boundaries.” This is a constant theme for the class this year. “For the inaugural show, we wanted to be hard hitting and controversial and especially [feature] a woman,” Mr. Attie says.
Mr. Attie wants to bring in artists that will inspire the girls “with showing artists that are important and vital for the girls to know about.” Sofia Cappello ’16 explained her thoughts about being part of the Tierney Gearon show: Private Princess. Capello said, “[Gearon] is so creative and impulsive, and it was an amazing privilege to work with her.”
Gallery management is a field where there are not very many female curators. “In a world where curation is dominated by men, we wanted to promote both female artists and managers, especially at an all girls’ school,” English explains. So that’s part of the mission: bringing in LA-based, female artists to a female-run gallery.
Bringing people to the show was “always a problem last year” Oriel says. Attie explains how they got people to the first show of the school year, as it was the most visited show so far: “Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, word of mouth, email, and visuals to generate mystique and excitement!”
The Gallery, while young, is an important part of the Archer community. English says, “The Gallery is one of Archer’s signature programs, where the girls are selecting the artists, hanging the shows, managing the money, etc. It’s experiential learning that the students will always remember.”