This year, students at The Corcoran School of the Arts & Design have more room for their annual thesis show than ever before. “NEXT 2015,” which opened Wednesday, uses all 11 of the first floor galleries, stairway and rotunda because the art that used to be there is now being sorted by staff at the National Gallery of Art — a result of the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s dissolution last year.

That means that BFA student Eliot Hicks was given nearly an entire gallery for his piece, “Verses,” a set of bleachers he bought online for $3,600.

“It’s a commentary on spectatorship, the viewer and the viewed,” he says.

In past years, “people might have complained about him getting so much space,” says Corcoran professor Andy Grundberg.

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Hicks originally wanted even more room.

“In an earlier iteration of the work, I had access to a full scale NASCAR vehicle and I was going to plop it in front of two sets of bleachers.”

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The opportunity to sprawl out is bittersweet for students of the once-independent Corcoran College of Art + Design, which was absorbed by George Washington University.

“With the Corcoran gone, there’s not as many museums in D.C. anymore for contemporary art,” Hicks says.

After graduating in May, Eliot plans to stay in D.C. instead of heading to the livelier modern art scenes of Baltimore, Richmond and Philadelphia, where many of his friends are going.

“I’ll be sticking around D.C. and forcing myself to work around the difficulties,” he says. “It’s a nice challenge, and the rewards — it feels so grand to show art here.”

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