A retrospective look back at Fridge Door’s founding ten years ago in 2007 and some thoughts on where we are now.
by Brianne Chapelle and Erika Kindsfather with quotations from a founding document written by the original FDG team
In what we now think of as Fridge Door Gallery’s seminal 2007 text “Welcome to the Fridge Door Gallery,” art history students at McGill, FDG Founder Melissa Koziebrocki among them, declared Fridge Door’s newly born purpose:
“The Fridge Door Gallery is the first exhibition space for student–curators and artists at McGill! As a group of art history students, we are interested in promoting the artistic community at McGill. This project arose out of necessity. In the past, student-artists have not been given the opportunity to showcase their work. Similarly, art history students often lack hands-on curatorial experience, and this gallery provides a great opportunity for them to apply their knowledge.”
Ten years later here we are, beneficiaries of Koziebrocki’s impulse to create such a space and the gallery’s founding members’ hard work. In a recent episode of reminiscence, multiple alumni of FDG remarked in a group message that their work at the gallery got them their first jobs in galleries or compelled them to work in university galleries ever since.. Their enthusiasm for the organization was still palpable and they exchanged warm sentiments, expressing their delight to know that the gallery is still thriving. Artists that have generously entrusted us with the sensitive task of showing their work over the years, coupled with the student curators and organizers, are the lifeblood of our organization. It has, in all ten years, been an honour and a privilege to showcase the rich artistic talent of the student body and larger alumni network of McGill.
More from the founding welcome message:
“The name [Fridge Door Gallery] was chosen to pay homage to the decorated refrigerator doors of our youth, which featured a range of artworks of all mediums and styles, of all subject matter. Technical skill was not an issue; our mothers were delighted to hang up whatever we brought home from school. This gallery aims to follow the fridge door aesthetic, promoting variety and diversity.”
Building on this, Fridge Door Gallery has been proud to exhibit diverse works across equally diverse media, including performance art. This pride was, in part, a motivation behind the theme this fall, Materialize. Collectively and with this same pride, we hang up posters all over campus and Montreal that advertise our vernissage, “fridge pinnings” in the urban landscape that supports the artists of our community,. Just like our parents supported our artistic endeavors as children by putting our art on the fridge. It is our project to build up our peers, and provide continual support of their artistic endeavours.
Our founders wrote, “ In the future, we wish to find a permanent gallery space to exhibit student art throughout the academic year.” Ten years later, Fridge Door Gallery still has no fixed space. Existing in constant flux, we re-materialize each semester anew, showcasing the work of different artists through the lens of a new theme. Our spatial instability allows for an enduring examination of what it means to exist as a gallery beyond the typical white cube. Our presence in Montreal and the McGill community mimics a palimpsest; we materialize in the city once a semester only to dismantle our physical presence hours later. Each year Fridge Door Gallery is re-written, yet we leave our trace through memory, digital archives, and photographs. Over the course of ten years, we have maintained a constant state of becoming, while referencing and building upon the endeavours of our past.
In 2007, the founding members of Fridge Door Gallery hoped that their brain child ”would prove to be a valuable opportunity for both the student community and McGill University itself, since it would encourage the appreciation of the visual arts, and both the production and consumption aspects.” We hope it has.