On October 1, Missouri State University students and staff, as well as community members from the surrounding area, gathered to unveil the newest exhibition gallery of the Art+Design Department. In addition to celebrating First Friday Art Walk, a monthly Springfield tradition, attendees also explored the newly renovated and renamed gallery, the Robert and Margaret Carolla Arts Exhibition Center.
Formerly known as Boonville Gallery, the new name honors two long-standing supporters of the arts, Robert and Margaret Carolla. The Carollas see art as a tool to revitalize and enrich communities, not only on MSU’s campus but across the greater Springfield area. They’ve put this belief into action by founding Sculpture Walk Springfield, an initiative to make art more accessible by showcasing sculptures in public spaces. In 2018, they created the Carolla Sculpture Grant, which provides financial aid for MSU students, enabling them to get materials to build a public sculpture.
The Carolla Arts Exhibition Center is one of the University Galleries, a collective network of galleries owned by MSU. Its primary function is to serve as the premier site for contemporary art in the region. The debut featured the Biennial Design + Image Exhibition, a collection of the best work of MSU Design and Illustration students.
Located at 326 N. Boonville Ave, the public can visit the space for themselves. Staff are currently preparing for the newest exhibition, BFA in Design Exhibition, a collection of works by senior design students from the department. It will be on display November 29 to December 9. While art-goers immerse themselves in the gallery space and its installations, Vonda Yarberry, the department head, promises that the best is yet to come. Yarberry spoke highly of the First Annual All Students Juried Exhibition, scheduled for January 2022, as renovations for the Carolla Arts Exhibition Center wrap-up.
This is simply one of many contributions the Carollas have made to MSU’s Art+Design program, and to an extent the larger Springfield area, over several years of patronage. Their belief that public art is vital to building a healthy community has led to opportunities for students and community members alike. As they continue to uphold the belief that creativity and community go hand in hand, Springfield will flourish.