Faulconer Gallery turns fifteen

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Community members engage in art activities in celebration of Faulconer Gallery’s 15th anniversary. Photo by Aaron Juarez.

Members of the Grinnell Community came to campus last weekend to help celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Faulconer Gallery. The festivities began on Friday, Sept. 26 with a reception to kick off the weekend full of art-based activities and events, which coincided with the start of Family Weekend.

The reception also celebrated the last weekend of the successful exhibition of “Edward Burtynsky: Water,” which closed on Sunday, Sept. 28. The exhibition focused on the role water has in the contemporary world through enlarged photographs taken by Edward Burtynsky on his travels.

On Monday, Sept. 29, in order to continue the festivities from Friday, staff members from the Faulconer Gallery invited community members to indulge in art activities. Tilly Woodward, the Curator of Academic and Community Outreach, led students and community members in tie-dye, marbling and photography. The weekend concluded on a very peaceful note with a morning of yoga in the Gallery on Sunday.

Community members engage in art activities in celebration of Faulconer Gallery’s 15th anniversary. Photo by Aaron Juarez.
Community members engage in art activities in celebration of Faulconer Gallery’s 15th anniversary.
Photo by Aaron Juarez.

The 15th anniversary celebrations highlighted the importance and the number of groups and initiatives that came along with the founding of the gallery. One of the main individuals involved with the gallery’s ongoing success is its founder and director, Lesley Wright.

After earning her Ph.D. from Stanford, Wright eventually founded the Faulconer Gallery in 1999. She has curated several shows, including the gallery’s inaugural show, “Re-Structure”.

“We went from having no presence as an art institution in the state to being a major museum for Iowa. We regularly attract visitors from Des Moines, Iowa City, Ames and Cedar Rapids as well as from further afield,” Wright wrote in an email to The S&B.

Since its founding, the Faulconer Gallery has made a large impact on the Grinnell community, adhering to its Statement of Purpose to promote “learning through artistic excellence and creative collaboration.” It has welcomed 192,727 visitors in 15 years and has showcased 223 exhibitions around campus—113 of which were exhibited in the gallery itself.

Despite her countless memories as founder and director of the gallery, Wright is most proud of three major feats: the growth and excellence of the gallery’s collection, which is a significant resource for primary research and teaching; the variety and significance of the gallery’s exhibitions in one of the largest exhibition spaces in the state and the range and quality of the gallery’s programs for the campus and community.

But the gallery has provided space for more than art. It has given students a space for dialogue and has sparked different initiatives and organizations around campus. One of the organizations is the Friends of Faulconer. The main mission of the organization is to get more students engaged in the gallery and to help plan events the gallery will host.

Despite the milestones the Faulconer Gallery has achieved, it has a lot more in store for the community.

“We are in the last stages of creating a new system to track and share our collections electronically. Once that system is in place in Digital Grinnell, we are looking forward to helping students and faculty work with our collection online. We are exploring our current staffing and considering what other positions, if any, would improve our operations,” Wright wrote.

After 15 years, she thinks it’s safe to say that most people can’t imagine Grinnell without Faulconer Gallery. “That’s a milestone to celebrate,” Wright said.