Exhibit goes down ‘Rabbit’ hole


Shawn Paik

Emily Jampel, left, and Sophie Epstein hosted HELLOWORLD, a gallery showcasing the work of artists under 25. Jampel and Epstein will release their book, White Rabbit, on Thursday.

Zane Warman, Contributing Writer

A large crowd congregated on Friday outside Gallery Sensei in anticipation of “Helloworld,” the first showcase curated by White Rabbit, an art project founded by Gallatin sophomores Emily Jampel and Sophie Epstein.

All of the artists showcased are under 25 years old, and include members from within and beyond the NYU community. Billed as “a collection of work that is both reflective and contemporary,” the mediums range from interactive installation pieces to elaborately designed surreal photography.

“All [the artists] show a strong understanding of composition, of light, and they use color really well,” said Bryan Edgington, a mutual friend of Epstein’s. “I would not think this is student art. I’m very impressed.”

Jampel and Epstein has worked with more than thirty artists since February 2014 to develop and curate the show. The duo tasked artists with responding to the theme “The Social Construction of Reality,” which was the title of the first-year seminar where Jampel and Epstein met. 

“It first started with good friends we knew from school that were interested in these concepts and did work we really admired,” Jampel said. “As more agreed to work on it, they would mention it to people when we would meet artists at different gallery shows, and the web grew out of that.”

Epstein interned under Ryan McGinley, where she met two contributing artists Evan Eisel and So Jin Lee. 

Jampel and Epstein later received a $3,300 grant from Gallatin to pursue White Rabbit. They immediately got to work, crowd-sourcing more than $10,000 to produce a 150-plus page book featuring written work and 3-D renderings of the exhibit’s artwork.

The gallery’s theme featured familiar responses to Internet-age anxieties. With the diverse array of artworks, Epstein said bringing together the diverse piece through a cohesive thematic idea was especially difficult.

“We didn’t want [patrons] to notice that they were walking from piece to piece, we wanted it to feel natural,” Epstein said.  “Having seen the pieces a thousand times, the hardest part was curating so as to provide a new experience to each visitor that walks in.”

Another obstacle was how to visually display the artwork. In the days leading up to the opening, Jampel and Epstein spent up to 16 hours working at the gallery and perfecting the presentation.

“You don’t even think about curating when you go to a gallery; you just think, ‘Oh, this art is really awesome,’ but I had no idea curating was this difficult,” Jampel said. “Even up to the minute before the exhibition started, we were still doing
last-minute things.”

While many attendees were impressed by the talent of the young artists, Jampel maintained that the group’s ultimate goal is to generate discussion on “philosophical concepts at work.”

“[White Rabbit] is our generation’s artistic commentary on the infinite constraints of our constructed environment,” Jampel said. “It is our attempt to create a space that enables us to reclaim our identity and form of liberation within it.”

“Helloworld” will be on display at Gallery Sensei until April 2.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, March 30 print edition.  Email Zane Warman at [email protected].

A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Ryan Edgington as Bryan Edgington and incorrectly said Epstein was taking a semester off. WSN regrets these errors.