“I feel more inspired here than I have in a very long time,” says Sydney Morris ’15 as she works in a photography studio that overlooks the historic downtown area in Torrington, Conn. Morris is one of 15 graduates of the University’s Hartford Art School who is participating in the Launchpad initiative, a new partnership between the Art School and the highly regarded Five Points Gallery. Through the Launchpad program, up-and-coming artists collaborate, participate in pop-up exhibits at gallery events, and present an exhibition of their work after a two-year period. Two members of this year’s graduating class are the latest artists to join the program.
Morris, who works as a photographer and videographer for an art supply distributor and wholesaler, says it was difficult for her to create her alternate photography pieces at home. “It’s nice to have a controlled environment and a shared space with other artists who I can get input from,” says the photography major from Wethersfield, Conn., as she creates a type of photo print known as a chemigram.
Judith McElhone, a Hartford Art School alumna and founding executive director at Five Points Gallery, says the Launchpad began as a pilot program in 2016 when three of the gallery’s interns were looking for studio space. Now the newly renovated studios above the gallery include a painting studio that doubles as an art installation space, a mixed-media studio, and a ceramics area for sculpting. To be admitted to the program, McElhone says the artists are subject to a strong vetting process “We’re looking for serious artists of good character who want to be part of a community,” she says.
In addition to working at Real Art Ways and as a gallery education assistant at Manchester Community College, ceramics major Rachel Rubenbauer ’15 says she creates pieces in her Launchpad studio at least four days a week. Rubenbauer says she finds it beneficial to share a studio with other artists who don’t work in clay. “If I was to get stuck on an aspect of my work, I can just walk out of my studio and be in a totally different atmosphere.”
Launchpad artist Aaron Flynn ’95 says that he moved to Torrington to be part of the gallery and Torrington’s growing downtown area. He says he’s glad the studio space costs just $65 a month for 24/7 access. “Just being able to work and paint here, and do what I do as an artist without having an expensive studio is quite wonderful,” says Flynn, who majored in ceramics and teaches ceramics and photography at Post University in Waterbury, Conn.
For more information about Five Points Gallery and upcoming events that feature the Launchpad artists, visit fivepointsgallery.org.