CATALYST gallery was started by Michael Ano, Elana Melissa Hill, Helia Rabie, and Michelle Harshburger in the winter of 2006. The space was originally the faculty office of Gifford Myers; but was quickly changed to represent the white cube and construct a new identity for the space.
Catalyst was created because of a need for undergraduate space to exhibit art in a critical environment. Catalyst not only created a space to show work but to learn about the entirety of the exhibition process.
Although the original intention was to use the space for UCI undergraduates, involvement extended outside the undergraduate studio art department. Multiple shows in Catalyst have included work of UCI MFA students, Catalyst18 was curated by UCI’s Visual Studies PHD students, and several other professional artists have exhibited in Catalyst.
By not becoming an organization legislated by the university but sanctioned by it, Catalyst has maintained its autonomy and ability to experiment with the work and the exhibitions that are created.
Catalyst has offered a chance for all involved to interact as practitioners, curators and theorists in a progressive and open space.