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Students, faculty open in Faulconer

Students, faculty and community members packed into Faulconer Gallery last Friday to survey works selcted from Grinnell's permanent collection. Here, Anna Furstenau '13 surveys a 'Cabinet of Curiosities' in 'Influence - Lawrence Sumulong'
Last Friday, the Faulconer Gallery opened two new exhibits curated by Grinnell College students and faculty members. The two exhibits, student’s “Repeat, Reveal, React: Identities in Flux,” and the faculty’s “Influence,” while separate, demonstrate the bond and influence people have upon one another.

The student run exhibit, “Repeat,” was created by 11 art students in Professor Jenny Anger’s Fall Art Exhibition Seminar. Held triennially starting in 1987, this unique opportunity allows students to use Grinnell’s extensive collections of art located within its print and drawing study room and shape the pieces they found there into a comprehensive vision.

“We do this in the department to give students the experience of working with actual works of art and trying to think through how difficult and how important it is to display them in a way that makes sense,” said Anger.

However, contrary to past exhibition seminars which focused on a particular time or place, this year’s theme of repetition allowed students to choose from their own interests and relate those to a wide spectrum of time periods and places that otherwise wouldn’t be connected.

“They took some very abstract ideas about repetition, and they very perceptively were able to look at the art in our collection and decide that this theme of repetition was most interesting when connected with the idea of identity,” said Anger.

Maddie Cargas ’10 agrees that a more coherent theme, such as identity through repetition, was the most interested her and her classmates.

“[It was] very much a class consensus on issues of cultural identity, gender identity and racial identity,” said Cargas. “If you go to the exhibition you can see pieces that deal with all of those and more.”

Displayed alongside the students’ efforts are the compilations of four Grinnell faculty members from varying disciplines. They include English Professor Shanna Benjamin, Biology Professor Jackie Brown, German Professor Dan Reynolds and Catherine Rod, Library. This highly varied group of individuals came together this past summer to explore Grinnell College’s art collection and create an exhibit beneficial to their spring semester classes.

“I asked them to develop their exhibitions based on what they might be teaching this semester,” said Faulconer Gallery Director Lesley Wright. “I wanted what they put in the gallery to be something that would be a living resource for their classes coming up.”

The faculty members decided to display their artworks in a fashion following a Renaissance trend known as a “Cabinet of Curiosities,” in which owners collected and arranged miscellanea in accordance with their own interests and method of organization.

“One of the things we wanted to do in our cabinet was not provide too much information,” said co-curator Librarian Catherine Rod. “We really wanted people to go and look at the objects and figure out how did they influence the viewer and how does the viewer’s background influence how they look at the different collections.”

Although these faculty members come from seemingly different backgrounds, through the curatorial process of assembling their separate exhibitions, they realized that the ways in which their lives connected testified to the influence people have on one another.

“The way that their thinking was influencing one another, the way that their discipline influences them, the way that being at Grinnell College influences them or that their students will influence them, all became a part of their mix, and they wanted people to be aware of that,” said Wright.

As for the exhibition’s influence on those who attended the opening Friday afternoon, Sara Lowenburg ’13 was impressed by the array of materials on display from the Grinnell collection, and surprised by the impact they had on her.

“I like that everything is from the Grinnell collection which shows how complex and diverse the collection is,” said Sara Lowenburg ’13, who attended the exhibit’s opening reception. “There are so many different interpretations. The idea of identity is really interesting and something that you could get a lot out of for yourself.”

The exhibits are open from Jan. 29 until Mar. 21.

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