They say artists can turn anything into art and when you look at Abi Tsigie’s journey, you could definitely agree with that.

Over the summer, junior art major Tsigie and his friend Seth Martin, also a Goshen College student, decided to rent a house together in downtown Goshen. Although the house is old and was initially extremely dirty, Abi saw potential and asked the landlord if they could give part of the house another use:  an art studio.

Once they got the thumbs-up, the two friends, along with other help from other GC students, started working vigorously to renovate the house. It took them five days to clean it completely.

Before arriving in the new house for the fall semester, Tsigie had spent his summer in his home country of Ethiopia. “Over there I did a black and white portrait series,” said Tsigie. “I thought it was pretty decent and this made me think if I should maybe do a show.”

Tsigie and Martin debuted their first exhibit on October’s First Friday and even with minimal publicity it received a large turnout.  The photographic presentation included Ethiopian portraits and American southwest landscapes.

The art studio is located at 521 Main Street, but the reason for the name “Gallery 221″ is to pay homage to Tsigie’s address in Ethiopia, 221.

Future plans for Gallery 221 include putting on exhibits for all the Goshen First Fridays, including next month’s on Nov. 5. “We’re getting ready for this upcoming show,” said Tsigie. “It’s going to be a collaborative with freshman Claudia Phillips. She’s going to present her paintings on wood and metal. My pieces will be clay artworks.”

Tsigie says that the gallery is open to anyone who wants to come visit the exhibits and also people who would like to help. “We’re open to receiving people, whether they are from the art department or not,” he said. “Anyone who is interested in art and putting up a show.”

Tsigie and Martin are slowly transforming other rooms in the house to gallery space.

“I’m now working on photo prints, which are very sensitive to dust…this means we need to have very distinct locations for each,” said Tsigie. ” I can see myself committing completely to this gallery in the future. This is a great opportunity and we’re very interested in receiving people who would like to volunteer…people can help us keep it open by just being here, bringing in their homework, having a quiet time.”