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Boston artist Jaina Cipriano’s Dreamscapes renews gallery space

808 Gallery
An installation constructed by Jaina Cipriano at the 808 Gallery in West Campus. The return of the art gallery will feature new art exhibitions and create opportunities for students to showcase their art. HANNAH DIPILATO/DFP STAFF

After two years of COVID-19 testing at the 808 Gallery, Boston University students no longer have to dream of a time when the space was filled with art.

“Because the gallery was under renovation for a year and then a COVID testing site for two years, many of our students don’t know the 808 Gallery as an actual art gallery,” said Lissa Cramer, managing director of BU Art Galleries, in an email interview.

Open until Oct. 13, “Dreamscapes: Finding the Light through Immersive Design” is the first exhibition to be shown at the 808 Gallery in over two years. The exhibition was constructed by Boston-based artist and filmmaker Jaina Cipriano, and is described as “the duality of light and dark” on the exhibition’s website.

Cipriano’s installation includes many different mediums of art like photography, interactive sets, lighting fixtures and more.

Cramer wrote that she wanted the first year of exhibitions in the reopened gallery to be a bit more fun and playful.

“If we’re reimagining the space from a COVID testing site, it’s a good time to reimagine how we interact with art as well,” Cramer wrote.

The idea of interacting with art is a centerpoint of the “Dreamscapes” exhibition. Visitors can find a tiny house to climb or a shrunken room to crawl into, and are told to imagine themselves in the work.

“It definitely wasn’t like paintings on a wall,” said Nathan Arteaga, a freshman in the College of Fine Arts, “It was a lot of thought by the artist put into it.”

Arteaga said they appreciated that the gallery featured a local artist.

“Since we go to school in Boston it’s important that we learn who the people in our community are,” Arteaga said.

It was important for the gallery to “start off with a bang,” Arteaga said, because the exhibit could inspire students.

Gallery Assistant Gabriella Rice, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, said that the exhibit is “a look into the art world in Boston.”

“I really like the art and kind of interactive aesthetics of this specific exhibit,” Rice said. “I wish that it was more publicized to others because I feel like other people who have similar experiences might resonate with them.”

Rice said she thinks creating an arts community is important, and 808 Gallery’s location next to the Howard Thurman Center makes it the perfect place to foster that community.

“People really like to congregate there, so it would be great exposure for both the gallery and the artists who are showcased,” Rice said, “Especially because we didn’t have this last year so there wasn’t a lot that students could see. In the student community, people seem to enjoy this artwork a lot.”

CFA student artists will also gain exposure, Cramer wrote, because the return of the 808 Gallery means more art and more opportunity. The CFA senior thesis exhibitions, for example, will be held in both of BU’s galleries this year: the 808 Gallery and the Stone Gallery, located at 855 Commonwealth Avenue.

“This means more room for students to really stretch out with their artwork and installations,” Cramer wrote. “Exhibitions can be bigger and more experimental. I’m excited to see how artists choose to transform the space with each show.”

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