The Student News Site of Brookdale Community College

The Current

The Student News Site of Brookdale Community College

The Current

The Student News Site of Brookdale Community College

The Current

Have You Been To BCC’s Art Gallery?

How Did I Not Know That? Series

Brookdale has a real art gallery? Right here on campus?

How did I not know that?

Well, I kind of knew it was there, but I knew nothing of how or when it operated.

It all began on Indigenous Day, Oct. 10. I noticed there was an exhibit at the Center for Visual Arts Gallery, or CVA. The exhibit featured historical artifacts from Native cultures that visitors were encouraged to touch and examine, which was unusual for an art gallery.

I knew I had to return and learn more, and Elisa Elorza, The CVA manager, curator, and professor of art, was kind enough to enlighten me on the workings of the gallery.

Elorza wears many hats and has taught in the art department, the architecture department and interior design and graphics. When an opportunity arose for a new director to run the gallery, she happily accepted.

“My background is a lot of cross disciplinary and global design and design history, allowing me to think globally in a contemporary way,” explained Elorza. “I’m also a member of M.I.T.’s global history consortium.”

When asked about what she hopes to accomplish at the CVA gallery, Elorza discussed how the artworld can sometimes feel intimidating for people, with the idea that an art gallery is a space for someone else, not me.

“A large part of the work we want to do here at Brookdale is not just to say that the gallery is for everyone but make it a space that is truly for everyone. Really invite students in and give them an opportunity to discover art on their own terms, in their own way, and bring their own lived experience and interests into that and let that add to the space.”

Elorza explained that the CVA Gallery is an academic gallery, which is different from a gallery you might see in Soho – that’s a profit gallery. There’s also non-profit galleries that support the art community.

Elorza said that with Brookdale, she sees the CVA Gallery as a cultural institution within a cultural institution that has a shared mission with the college – education.

“But in addition to that we engage the arts. It is an opportunity to be a learning center – a space where the arts and design can be the main drivers for what we do, and we can have interdisciplinary engagement with other fields, for students as well as the larger community,” Elorza said.

It’s not unusual for elite universities to have art museums that give students the opportunity to experience art with all of their senses.

“I hoped to bring that experience to Brookdale, which is what we did with the Indigenous People’s exhibit, encouraging students to touch and examine the artifacts,” she said. “The idea was to present Indigenous People as a living culture as opposed to objects in a museum.”

The exhibition that just ended, “Within the Anthropocene” by Karen Bright, a professor emerita at Monmouth University, explored the environmental challenges the world faces in the 21st century, including climate change, biodiversity loss, and the Anthropocene epoch. Using diverse artistic mediums including fresco, sculpture, encaustic and graphic design, Bright explored sustainable interrelationships between humans, nature, and our planet.

One painting from the exhibit titled “Monarch,” a striking encaustic (melted wax with other elements) on a birch panel, presented a large colorful depiction of a monarch butterfly looking slightly bedraggled, almost wordlessly asking the viewer to help protect biodiversity and prevent the threatened extinction of the species.

Additionally, Bright’s sculptural series – “Still Water,” created specifically for this exhibition – explores the multifaceted nature of water, both as essential giver of life and as primary player during extreme weather events.

“For this exhibit based on climate change, we held workshops where we engaged with both STEM students, and design students, working together to learn from each other and create new ways of thinking, and in doing so we can try to solve problems that, 20 years ago, did not exist,” Elora said.

There is also a community healing room, an enclave within the gallery, to allow visitors to process and reflect on what they have experienced and also a space to decompress. The tiny room features soft lighting with many yards of neutral colored donated fabric softly gathered across the ceiling, loosely installed to encompass the upper space. The tranquil refuge has wooden seats, books and a sketchbook to share impressions and drawings.

“Students often come in and comment on the thought-provoking displays and the beautiful atmosphere and say, ‘The Gallery is so different in person!’ said Elorza. “And that is why visitors have to come in and experience the gallery firsthand rather than view an exhibit from a computer or phone.

There are two main exhibits per year, with smaller exhibits throughout the year. The exhibits are free and open to all students and the public on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

For updates on hours and current exhibits: Current and upcoming – Brookdale Community College (

To learn more about the Center for Visual Arts Gallery: CVA Mission & Vision Statements – Brookdale Community College (

For specific questions or to contact CVA Manager Professor Elisa Elorza:

[email protected]

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