RMCAD Fine Arts professor, Tobias Fike, is passionate about preparing students for careers as exhibiting professionals. Fike, who has exhibited work all around the globe – from Berlin to Shanghai, knows that a key part of this process is practice. He believes that the way to learn how to exhibit your work is not only by reading a book or listening to a lecture, it’s also by hanging your art in a gallery. This lesson became a hands-on experience when he got 15 students involved in the BRDG Project’s student-led exhibition, So Fresh and So New.

Exhibition flyer for So Fresh and So New.

The Blank Slate program is a recently launched initiative by the BRDG Project. The program gives local art students public space to exhibit their work alongside educators from their school, such as Fike. Located in the Denver Highlands neighborhood, the BRDG Project is at the epicenter of Colorado’s thriving art scene. When the BRDG Project reached out to Fike about curating a RMCAD student show, he knew this was an opportunity he could not refuse. Fike shared, “I get the most satisfaction from providing other artists with opportunities. It combines my two favorite things, which are education and art. I strive to bring them together outside of the classroom, in the professional community.”

Fike had just three weeks to recruit students, like Fine Arts student Nicole Cassidy, from all around campus. Cassidy knew Fike from his Experimental Studies class, saying “Ever since that class (Fike) and I have been close. He’s a great teacher and artist!” Cassidy, who has shown work both on and off the RMCAD campus, is no stranger to the exhibition process. However, like others who participated in the So Fresh and So New exhibition, Cassidy took this opportunity as a learning experience. Her largest takeaway from the show was the importance of collaborating with her fellow artists. “In the fine arts community, it is extremely important to make connections” shared Cassidy.

With only five days to install the entire show before it opened on November 10, 2023, students were challenged with a quick installation timeline, but both RMCAD and the BRDG Project wanted to push students to get the most out of their learning experience. “Installing work themselves gave students the autonomy and opportunity to learn the process firsthand. Everybody stepped up and did a fantastic job,” Fike exclaimed.

Leo Akers, Nina Garcia, Daisy St. Clair, Mark Phillips, Joseph Calderon, Heather Wolfram, Nicole Cassidy, Cassie Riley, Wren Holzinger, Jack Stevens

At the opening, students celebrated the culmination of their hard work in both the studio and the gallery. “It was nice to see a lot of past and present RMCAD faculty come to support the show,” said Cassidy. She was also excited to see art lovers beyond the RMCAD community show up. Fike explained that he was gone for the show’s opening but shared that he was getting photos texted to him by students. “You can just see how exciting it is for the students and who doesn’t feed off that enthusiasm?” In the end, everyone involved learned something new about the exhibition process, even Fike. “I tried to be hands-off as much as possible. I think that’s where real learning comes from,” shared the proud professor.

Learn more about RMCAD’s Fine Arts here!  If you would like to read another RMCAD blog, we recommend Two Weeks and One Remarkable Residency in the Arctic for a RMCAD Professor.

Some of the quotes in this story have been edited for brevity and clarity by the author, but are meant to retain the significance and purpose of the original speaker.


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