Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Student-curated exhibition opens Friday at Maier Museum of Art

Lots of students can say they have visited to museums and analyzed exhibitions, but students at Randolph College can now talk about what it is like to curate one.

Mirror of a Passing World
Ephemeral Places, Vanishing Spaces
Opening Reception: Friday, Jan. 20, 2012, 4 - 7 p.m.
On View Until: April 15, 2012
For the next three months, the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College will show Mirror of a Passing World: Ephemeral Places, Vanishing Spaces, which was curated by a group of six students last semester. The exhibition explores the way that art preserves memories, events, and locations that otherwise would fade away.

In the past, some students have had the opportunity to curate exhibits in the Maier’s small gallery, but this is the first exhibition curated by a group of students and taking up both of the museum’s galleries, said Leanne Zalewski, who teaches art history at Randolph College.

Zalewski decided to teach a student curatorial seminar so more students could work hands-on with the College’s art collection. This gave students experience with each stage of curating an exhibition, such as selecting, choosing artwork, writing wall text, and hanging art. The process also helped them learn about the strict deadlines involved, especially when the exhibition is curated in a short amount of time.

“In this situation we had to curate the exhibition in a period of one semester, which is unusually short considering the scope of the exhibition—we have almost 50 objects in the exhibition,” Zalewski said.

Glenna Gray ’14 said Zalewski suggested the class to her, and she jumped at the chance to have hands-on experience planning and executing the exhibition. “Since it's student curated, we had a direct role in each decision of the exhibit,” she said.

Stormy Clowdis ’13 said the class gave her experience in the career field she is pursuing. “I want to go into the museum field. I felt taking this class would prepare me for the real world in museum studies and I could establish a good career for myself.”

Zalewski said the exhibition has turned out to be a success, and she and the Maier Museum staff plan to have another student group-curated exhibit in the next couple of years.

The exhibition includes oil paintings, prints, etchings, and other works of art. Each piece inspires a sense of nostalgia for the past, emphasizing how art preserves memories and impermanent locations.

Melissa Halka ’14 said she hopes the exhibition inspires viewers to pause, consider how the world is passing around them, and resolve not to let life pass them by. “I hope it inspires a meditative state, and that visitors will notice more of the smaller details in life and have a richer experience in life,” said Halka.