Tech Noir: Huret & Spector Gallery’s New Exhibit


Kenneth Schlaud, untitled image meant to provide commentary about media coverage silencing the African American community.

By Adam Spector

Emerson’s Huret and Spector Gallery, a small two-story gallery located on the sixth floor of the Tufte building, is showcasing a unique exhibit with an emphasis on digital art. 

Titled “I Can’t Stop Running,” the exhibition was created by two students: freshman VMA major Bret Queenan and junior VMA major Kenneth Schlaud. The exhibition features several screens that have been added to the gallery, creating a distinct and engaging experience for visitors.

“It’s escapism,” Queenan said. “We wanted to capture the feeling of escaping problems. The technology theme is because tech is just another means of escape. There’s also a feeling of struggling to find identity, which is even harder in the age of the internet where it’s so easy to run away from yourself and your problems at any time.”

According to Schlaud, the work was originally made for a VMA class and had been received well. After a professor’s recommendation, the pair decided to expand upon their classwork and put it on display in the Huret and Spector Gallery.

 “It’s an amalgamation of what it means to be online and grow up online,” Schlaud said. “It’s meant to capture that feeling of constantly being able to encounter and engage with anything in the world.”

According to James Manning, the exhibition manager for Emerson’s Visual Arts program, the Huret and Spector Gallery is a “laboratory and student project space.” This is a space that allows students and faculty to produce experimental art projects and display their BFA thesis exhibitions and other curriculum-related exhibitions and events. The gallery is also used for film shoots and temporary installations, providing students with a professional setting to try out their projects.

“We have two galleries on campus … The Media Art Gallery on 25 Avery Street for professional artists (and graduate students), and the Huret Spector Gallery for artists who are just starting out,” Manning said. “We get to use the same equipment used at the [Emerson Contemporary gallery on Avery Street], such as our high-end projectors and monitors. It also gives students some experience in how to do exhibition design, to work in a space, and how to set up a project.”

Schlaud mentioned there were several obstacles working on the project regarding being able to rent out equipment on short notice. One of the obstacles was the limited equipment and available shooting locations. The project was shot in a single classroom and only took three days to put together. 

“Everything in here was shot with a camera that I own, and then we used a single panel light that was $15 on Amazon because we couldn’t get a hold of lighting equipment in time for the shoot,” Schlaud said. “It was all done in a classroom in the Walker Building. We also used lights from the projector as well as classroom lights.”

Manning also said he found this particular exhibit fascinating despite not usually having opinions about students’ art. He worked closely with the students to help them learn the ins and outs of exhibition design and installation, using high-end projectors, monitors, and video equipment from the media art gallery to create a distinctive display.

“I’ve been here for years, and working with students on projects like this has always been my favorite part of the job,” Manning said. “It’s always fun to dive into the process and show them the ropes, as this is typically their first time having a professional exhibit. We usually have a good time installing it, figuring out how they can take their ideas, and turning them into an interesting exhibit.”

Both Emerson Galleries are free for students and visitors to appreciate the work and creativity of the Emerson students. The exhibits usually change on a monthly basis.