Iovine and Young students create Explore Pop-Up art gallery

A step into the Explore Pop-Up Gallery transports attendees into a virtual world made physical. Vibrant art pieces you might see at any museum are on display, but they’re featured in a striking way — framed as the Instagram posts that the art pieces started as.

(From left to right) Freshmen Elly Berge, Kyle Michel, Jennifer Jing and Kaitlyn Chu are students in the Iovine and Young Academy arts, technology and business of innovation major. Photo courtesy of Kaitlyn Chu.

Since Fall 2017, the students in the Disruptive Innovation course at the USC Iovine and Young Academy have been working on a year-long project to complete. With a limit of $100, each group of students pursued a hands-on business idea to address a problem persisting in the community.

For this project, freshmen Kaitlyn Chu, Kyle Michel, Elly Berge and Jennifer Jing, who major in arts, technology and the business of innovation, created the Explore Pop-Up Gallery at Art Share L.A. The gallery, which was open this weekend, featured the work from a diverse community of Instagram artists to replicate the social media platform’s “Explore Feed” feature in person.

“[At] the Iovine and Young Academy, they really emphasize innovation and taking risks,” Chu said. “This pop-up museum for Instagram artists is something that we have never seen done before. So the Academy really gave us that push and drive to try new things and to not be afraid.”

According to Michel, the group had several brainstorming sessions throughout the year. The problem that the students focused on addressing how to get local artists more exposure for their work.

“The best way we thought to do that was to grasp the burgeoning industry of pop-up museums, like the Museum of Ice Cream and the Museum of Failure,” Michel said. “We wanted to merge the artist exposure and pop-up idea for our project.”

The students selected 15 different Instagram artists who created artwork that reflected their own personal brands. Artists ranged from a 15-year-old student from the Orange County School of Arts to a creator from Venezuela.

According to Chu, the group wanted to display a variety of art media. Some of the artwork that was hung included watercolors, color pencils, oil paintings, digital work, photography and pastels.

“What I love about this project is that you can hypothetically be given so many assignments,” Berge said. “They could have said, ‘Hypothetically, here’s $100. What are you going to do, how are you going to start your business?’ You never know if it’s actually going to work out, and you don’t get to see it happen. The most amazing part of this project was being here all weekend and seeing people actually enjoying what we worked on and it being a physical hands-on product.”

The works of art were displayed with the Instagram app’s distinctive frame. While some were suspended in the middle of the room, the rest were hung on the walls with binder clips.

“When we made our demo presentations, I made a physical model of the museum, which included the way we were going to hang the artwork,” Jeng said. “Initially, we didn’t think the structure of the hanging would be possible because the space of the room might not allow it. But I’m really happy with the way it turned out because the use of the binder clips makes the artwork more visually impactful and raw.”

To make the gallery more interactive, attendees were given heart stickers at the entrance, reminiscent of those that appear when users ‘like’ an Instagram post. Throughout the gallery, they pressed the stickers onto the walls next to their favorite pieces.

According to Michel, the group hopes to continue this museum after the end of the course. They are currently looking for another space to create a second pop-up museum in Los Angeles.

“I hope our museum viewers realize that art is everywhere,” Michel said. “Art is definitely in your local area and in your community. Artists are always surrounding us and those artists that have little exposure or little followings are also able to make extremely quality pieces of art.”