Free Arts Gets Into the Gallery Space With Room57

Room57 is bringing teen artists into the gallery space. The new gallery, which opened in November, has partnered with Free Arts NYC to exhibit work created by underserved youth alongside more established artists and designers.

While Free Arts has previously organized gallery visits and internships, the partnership with Room57 represents a new opportunity for the organization to educate young artists about the gallery business. “What happens with many artists is they go to school (or don’t go to school) and they become an artist, and they don’t really understand how it works — that ultimately there’s a process for selection, not everything is always sold, there are costs associated with selling the work,” says Free Arts founder Liz Hopfan.

For Room57’s Youth Arts Collections initiative, 100 percent of the sale price of any work sold will be given back to the young artist. For Chapter One — the gallery’s first exhibition — Free Arts alumni Rhesa Paul and Lyndsey Torres were included; their work is paired with two Kaws x Campana chairs.

“What we’re trying to provide is that access and the opportunity — the opportunity to study art, the opportunity to have a mentor who can help you work on a portfolio, the opportunity to learn what it’s like to work in the art business,” Hopfan adds of the Free Arts mission. “It takes artists years and years and years — and some of them never get to be sold in a gallery — so this is an extension of the access and opportunity we hope to provide for young people.”

Room57 aims to subvert the traditional gallery model by showing art and design pieces in context through immersive settings reflective of a home environment. Gallery owner Josh Fayer, who was introduced to Free Arts NYC through family, hopes to include three to five youth artists with each exhibition.

“Art is something that is skimmed over in terms of childhood learning, and I think it needs to be there for everyone, even the people who don’t have the means to be taking art classes or going to art schools,” says Fayer. “The facilities should still be there, and Free Arts does a great job at doing that for them.”

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