Northwestern Art Review looks toward bigger, more accessible future


Photo courtesy to Kelsey Carroll

NAR’s 2023 career panel. The panel welcomed Head of Office at Sotheby’s Chicago Gary Metzner, Weinberg Dean and Art History Professor Adrian Randolph, architect Donna Ryu, Assistant Art History Professor Alicia Caticha, and visual artist Caroline Kent.

Mary Randolph, Reporter

The Northwestern Art Review isn’t just an annual scholarly journal on art history, according to Weinberg senior and NAR co-President Grace Shi. It’s also an organization with a growing digital presence, robust programming and a strong sense of community. 

“It’s truly just a community of students who are passionate about art history,” Shi said. “We do a lot of creative programming to spread awareness of the art around us.” 

NAR, founded in 2007, publishes short-form articles on its website bi-weekly in addition to an annual, 100-plus page journal of scholarly articles from all over the world. 

The organization also holds events like bonding trips to the Art Institute of Chicago and art-world career panels. 

Weinberg senior and co-Director of Events Lisa Vicini said NAR’s ‘abandoned art auction’ was a highlight of her year. At the event held March 1, NAR auctioned off pieces of student art left in Kresge Hall at the end of Winter Quarter and worked with the Northwestern Rotaract Club, the Evanston Township High School Interact Club, and the Haile-Manas Academy Interact Club to buy school supplies and chairs for elementary students in Ethiopia. 

“It was so amazing to merge art and event planning and charity,” Vicini said.

This year marked the first year of the abandoned art auction since 2012 — an indication of the club’s recent growth, Vicini said. After decreased membership and activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, she said club leadership worked over the past couple of years to build NAR back up, introducing a regular digital publishing schedule. Now, the club has more than 50 members, she said. 

Vicini joined the organization last year and immediately assumed the role of co-director of events, where she had to learn on the job.

“I came onto exec not really knowing the reins, but it was honestly such an empowering experience because it forced us to restructure everything and figure it out,” she said.

Another new addition to the club this year is SESP freshman Aimee Resnick’s weekly column. She interviews professional artists, finding insightful things to say about the “human experience,” Resnick said.

She found one interview with English visual artist Paul Fryer particularly striking. 

“He talked about how the art world can often feel really constrictive when you’re a young person in terms of what you’re allowed to do,” Resnick  said. “He was like, ‘Don’t let that stifle you because art intrinsically has no rules, and even though there’s been institutions set up to enforce these fake statutes, they’re not legitimate.’” 

NAR tries to lift some of those limitations with events like its career panel, Shi said. The group hosted Gary Metzner, head of office at art brokerage Sotheby’s Chicago, and Adrian Randolph, Weinberg dean and art history professor, this year. 

Speakers like these, Shi said, make the art world more accessible to students. For both students who want to pursue a career in the art world and those who just love art history, Shi said, NAR can serve as a valuable resource. 

“At a school that’s very pre-professional, if you want to go into an occupation or a field that isn’t so clear cut, (NAR) is a great way to dip your toes, or just meet people who also appreciate art.”

NAR will host its 2023 Art Show May 25 through 27 and publish its annual journal in the coming weeks. 

The annual journal is focused on “Fine, Art.” –– or what it means to classify things as fine art. Resnick said the theme of the journal this year is especially pertinent to the club’s goal of making art history more welcoming to all. 

“Art history has a pretty elitist history and reputation, so we’re really trying to challenge those concepts to create a community where everyone can feel comfortable.”

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the beneficiary of the abandoned art auction. The Daily regrets this error. 

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