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New coordinator takes over Purdue Northwest's CHESS gallery in Hammond

Morganne Wakefield, the new CHESS Gallery coordinator in Hammond, explains to Purdue University Northwest student Ryan Stephens the creative techniques used in the photograph.

A new coordinator has taken over Purdue University Northwest's CHESS Gallery, which relocated from Hessville to 7011 Indianapolis Blvd. in Hammond.

Morganne Wakefield, a visiting instructor for communications at the university, will oversee previously scheduled exhibitions this fall and start curating exhibits in January. She has several shows in mind for the spring semester.

“There will be a painting exhibition in January, followed by an exhibition of student-work made during the Paris Maymester 2019 trip,” Wakefield said. “I have a sculpture exhibition planned for April.”

She previously served as coordinator of the CHESS Gallery in 2017.

“She did this for us two years ago and she did a great job,” Purdue University Northwest Communication and Creative Arts Department Chairman Thomas Roach said. “I am very excited she’s back.”

Wakefield said she hopes to use the gallery to show students the importance of art and plans to host workshops on how to make art at the gallery.

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“We live in a world saturated with images that work on our subconscious all the time and if you understand the world of the visual, that’s an incredible amount of power to have,” Wakefield said.  “Art is a language that can be understood and enjoyed. Creating art is a form of visual problem solving — which is often the source of its frustration. It’s also what makes art fun.”

Purdue Northwest student Ryan Stephen said he appreciates the culture the gallery offers in Hammond.

“The CHESS Gallery is important to me because it is a space that cultivates academic discussion about art. Anyone can come to the gallery and experience the point of views of others,” Stephens said. “I noticed that when I am there, I do more listening than I do speaking. It’s one of the places in my life where my mind is most open.”

He also looks forward to the return of open mic nights in which students and local artists can share their music or poetry.

“I don’t think there is enough emphasis placed on how open and welcoming this event is,” Stephens said. “All art and media forms are appreciated.”

For more information, email chessartgallery@pnw.edu or find the gallery on Facebook.

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Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.