Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

December 9, 2023

    Teaching Museum of Art hosts faculty exhibition: “Material Conversations”

    Kate Black (’20) and Ethan Conley-Keck (’19) stop to look at one of the displays at the Teaching Museum in Centennial Hall on Friday night. Photo by Kevin Donovan

    With the start of a new term, Augustana’s Teaching Museum of Art opened its newest exhibit “Material Conversations” on Friday, March 9, with a reception.
    As a faculty art show, all of the pieces exhibited in “Material Conversations” are the work of professors from Augustana’s art department: Kelvin Mason, Vickie R. Phipps, Megan Quinn, Trew Schriefer, Rowen Schusshiem-Anderson, Corrine Smith, Ronda Wright-Phipps, and Peter Tong Xiao.
    According to the show’s curator and Director of the Augustana Teaching Museum of Art, Dr. Claire Kovacs, the museum hosts a faculty art show tri-annually, the last show having been in the winter term of the 2014-2015 school year. All the works showcased in the exhibit are pieces that Augustana’s studio and design faculty have been working on for the last three years with the most recent pieces being finished in February of this year.
    Dr. Kovacs explained that the idea for the title of “Material Conversations” was a collaborative effort between her and the art faculty that was meant to highlight how the different media used by the art faculty in their works manages to start a dialogue.
    “Our faculty teach a variety of different classes and they also work in a variety of different forms. We have neon in the show, we have vessels made out of ceramics, we have…fiber work, we will have a cast iron sculpture, we have paintings and prints,” Dr. Kovacs began. “Not only are the faculty, in the process of making their work, sort of having a conversation between themselves and their material, their objects are having a conversation across different material.”
    In fact, Dr. Kovacs explained that, in curating the museum, she made sure to design the display so that rather than each faculty member having their own “mini-exhibit”, the pieces were placed where they fit best in the conversation.
    “Students don’t just take courses from one faculty member…so it was important for me to think about ‘How can I create an exhibition out of this work that enhances this idea of these works in conversation with each other?’” Dr. Kovacs said.
    “Material Conversations” and the faculty art show in general, are more than just ways for the faculty to start dialogue through their work, it is also a place for the Augustana community to be involved and respond to the art that is made.
    Vicki Phipps, Professor of Art and Graphic Design at Augustana, who had several pieces of neon in “Material Conversations”, discussed her thoughts on the benefits of students and faculty alike being able to witness a faculty art show.
    “I just returned from Amsterdam where I saw this great poster: ‘May the student in you never die,’” Phipps said. “Augie is a place we grow together and inspire each other. So yeah, if you are curious and such, how could you not grow, change…learn something from a new experience like going to an art show? I am inspired and learn from my art colleagues and students alike.”
    Similarly, Professor of Art and Graphic Design, Rowen Schussheim-Anderson, who had several fiber pieces in the show, highlighted the benefit of having a faculty art show available to current art students.
    “We joke that we practice what we teach, so I think it’s important for students to see that their instructors are producing artists—that we are committed to creating art besides just teaching about it,” Schussheim-Anderson said.
    Schussheim-Anderson also suggested the benefit that the faculty show has for juniors in the art program at Augustana who will be completing their senior inquiry projects the following year. She explained that being able to see collections of themed work from the faculty that teach them might help them create their own bodies of work in the future.
    For the art faculty, “Material Conversations” is a way to demonstrate the ways in which art is very much a part of their life outside of just teaching it. For Augustana’s art students, the faculty art show gives them the chance to witness several different bodies of work from the art faculty that teaches them. “Material Conversations”, works to start a dialogue within the Augustana community to which the entire community can respond.
    “To see actual work…where you can get up close and sense the texture or the color, or how the paint is put on…getting a sense of depth, things that happen in real life, you know, primary sources, you know, it’s pretty impactful,” Schussheim-Anderson explained.
    “Material Conversations” will be open to the public from March 9 to April 7 on Fridays and Saturdays from 12-4 pm and by appointment.
    Photo: Kate Black (’20) and Ethan Conley-Keck (’19) stop to look at one of the displays at the Teaching Museum in Centennial Hall on Friday night. Photo by Kevin Donovan

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    Teaching Museum of Art hosts faculty exhibition: “Material Conversations”