Located in Raleigh, North Carolina, the Visual Art Exchange (VAE) is an art gallery, non-profit creativity incubator, and education center for emerging, professional, and student artists. Their programs include small business training and networking programs for artists as well as lectures, workshops, critiques, and demonstrations. The organization was established in 1980, making it Raleigh’s longest running private, non-profit arts organization. VAE has grown in response to the Research Triangle area becoming a creative hub in the southeast. Each year the organization hosts over 70 educational programs and over 60 exhibitions featuring more than 1,300 artists. VAE is also the force behind SPARKcon, an interdisciplinary art festival that showcases and connects more than 2,000 artists, designers, musicians and performers with 30,000 participants. The VAE gallery has four spaces for distinct purposes. In the front, the Exchange Gallery is a highly visible area to highlight VAE artists. Launch is a retail space for handcrafts artists. Main Gallery hosts 12-16 exhibitions each year.
The Cube gallery, in the back of the model, is a space for experimental work. Rat Party City, on display in the Cube, is an interactive piece by Maria Lux. We see the aftermath of a performance where participants destroyed rat pinatas made by the artist. The piece is meant to be a celebration and opportunity to think about the complicated relationship between rats and humans.