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May 27, 2004

Virtual Reality Gallery Allows Visitors Real "Look" at Student Art

Glancing through an art gallery to view exceptional student art without even leaving your computer is now available online through the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Student artwork can be seen either one by one or by navigating through a virtual reality tour of the campus' Bry Gallery with the touch of a computer mouse. It can be found at

Brian Fassett, associate professor in ULM's Division of Art has a keen interest in developing Internet tools to aid in the learning process. Fassett has maintained a personal faculty web site for several years where his students have been able to learn more about their classes including viewing project samples for all of his studio courses.

A random act of kindness by a student he has never met showed him the importance of being connected on-line. Fasset recalls, "About a year and a half ago I received a thank you e-mail from a student at a university in New York. She said that she had found my site while surfing the web and that my clear presentation of information had helped her pass her final exam in graphic design. This caused me to really acknowledge the global nature of communication via the World Wide Web."

The on-line art gallery, currently showing 39 works from 21 students in the 7th Annual ULM Student Juried Art Exhibition, was born from Fassett's idea and the aid of computer knowledge from the university web specialist, Rob Glaze. Fassett also had assistance from professor Gary Ratcliff. Fassett said, " ULM art students produce very good work. We thought we should celebrate and showcase some of this work."

The on-line gallery is not only a showcase for ULM's student artists, but also a recruiting tool for new students. "The interactive gallery tour is a meaningful approximation of our recent student juried competition. By accessing our web site, potential students can view images illustrating the quality of work from our studio classes. Interested students are then welcome to schedule a Division of Art/campus tour and have a look at our faculties and our production, " said, Robert Ward, Interim Head of the Division of Art.

Fassett adds that while the on-line tour is an enhancement to the department, it isn't meant to take the place of a visit. "We want people to let people know that art exhibits are taking place on campus. We hope to encourage additional visitors by letting them know more exhibits will take place, but at the same time to document and archive, at least for a while, what we're doing at ULM."

The virtual reality gallery could possibly be a learning experience for ULM students. "In the future, with enough lead time, I hope to involve students in the procedural technicalities. The digital photography and the graphic manipulation into the Virtual Gallery will be of interest and benefit to my graphic designers," said Fassett.

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