Apr 012009
 
Authors: Ashley Lauwereins

One piece of artwork directly contrasts all others in the University Gallery. Lying on the floor, this picture looks like a piece of granite. Although it’s positioning may be deceiving, it still presents a powerful message.

Linny Frickman walks over the picture, before coming to a stop on the other side of it. Looking down, upon closer examination, it becomes apparent that this is a photograph nestled beneath a shattered piece of glass.

“The artist’s name is Oscar Munoz, and he is from Cali, Colombia,” Frickman said. “This city has the largest amount of drug trafficking in the world, so his intention was to take an aerial photograph of the city and place it beneath a broken piece of glass to signify how broken the city is.”

Once the meaning becomes clear, the viewer can look at the piece with new knowledge, better understanding what the artist is trying to say. The University Gallery functions to help students understand how to interpret modern artwork by providing appropriate information.

“Sometimes understanding the contemporary art of our time is the most difficult,” said Frickman, director of the University Art Gallery and art history professor, stressing the new gallery’s main function is to educate.

Students, faculty and community members can get educated on contemporary art as the University Art Gallery opens its doors for the first time tonight at 7 p.m. in the University Center for the Arts.

Getting around the gallery

In addition the contemporary museum, students and community members will find three other galleries within the new University Gallery.

Eventually, a teaching gallery will be opened, in which faculty can suggest items to be pulled from the gallery storage and presented to classes. In addition, anyone can use the space for classes, not just faculty.

Patricia Coronel, an associate professor of art history and adjunct curator for the University Art Museum, said she will utilize the gallery for teaching.

“What this means is that all works within the museum collection will be accessible to students, whether they are on display at the time in the museum,” Coronel said. /”This also gives students a one-on-one experience with a work of art, an experience that is rare for anyone.”

The small gallery to the right will mostly be used to display small paper works. Currently, it houses Japanese paper scrolls. Frickman said this gallery could also display electronic and media pieces.

The center gallery houses the African collection, displaying African jewelry, masks and other tribal artwork. Both the center and right areas display permanent collections donated to CSU.

“The amazing thing about this collection is that it has come together through the collection of faculty, alumni and friends, many of whom were involved internationally,” Frickman said. “We have the African collection because people cared about other parts of the world. Our collection is representative of the international spirit of caring.”

Students and faculty involvement

Frickman said every spring the gallery will feature graduate student thesis artwork, pieces they’ve spent their CSU career creating.

This is the only time student artwork will be displayed in the University Gallery. However, the Hatton Gallery, located in the Visual Arts building, will continue to display student work.

Gary Voss, a chairman in the art department, said the opening of the University Gallery will show shift in focus from a more national outlook to a student focus in the Hatton Gallery.

“The Hatton may even take on a ‘teaching gallery’ emphasis, allowing faculty to suggest work that corresponds to what is being covered in the studios,” Voss said. /”We hope to have some graduate level work shown, from first and second year (pre-thesis) students, emphasizing a more experimental approach.”

In addition to those who were showcased, several students have volunteered their time and energy to the museum. Anna Maddocks, a sophomore art major, has been volunteering, working with, moving and organizing art pieces at the new storage facility.

“All of the pieces are so interesting, they all have their own history and story,” Maddocks said. “I enjoy hearing the history of each piece. A lot of these pieces were cultural and taken from the everyday life of these people.”

“I was mostly working with the African pieces, and when I was left alone with the masks, they were a little scary,” she said later. “Somebody has worn this and used it in their lives, and now I’m putting it in a box in a country across the ocean.”

Maddocks said she feels fortunate to be a part of the new gallery.

“This museum is important because it helps promote an awareness of the arts,” she said. “It is a great way for alumni to stay connected to CSU’s art program, and it is important to Fort Collins as a place to display historical pieces.”

Coronel said classes can be moved closer to the gallery to take advantage of the collection.

“When I teach African Art History, the class can go directly into the museum to look at works of art that they may only have seen in their text,” she said.

Another avenue for student involvement comes from the artwork label text a booklet separate from the piece giving historical importance to each art piece and telling if the artwork had a function.

“The first two shows of African and Japanese art use much of the label text from student research in the past,” Frickman said.

Frickman said past students have pulled specific pieces from the permanent gallery to study and do in-depth research to create the text.

The texts serve a dual purpose, showcasing student work, along with developing research skills that should help art history and art majors use in future professions.

Maddocks called the label text very important to art history because learning about and informing people is a large part of art history.

The department hopes to draw more art students to CSU because of researching opportunities the museum can offer, along with it’s professional stature.

“We plan to develop more museum studies courses for art education students,” Frickman said.

Coronel is teaching a class in the fall directly involved with museum experience and study. She said since the primary function of the collections is to teach, students will be responsible for the collection, including the installations, labels and research texts.

“Having the proper facility to display our permanent collection, and archive the pieces properly, puts CSU on par with major educational institutions,” Voss said. /

“We can now bring in work from important collections as we have the proper climate-controlled facility. /We couldn’t do that before,” he said.

“Having all the fine arts under one roof allows the students to become more aware and collaborate with one another,” Frickman said. “There are very few buildings like ours even on a national level, having all four disciplines under one building.”

It will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Also, keynote guest artist Mel Chin will present a lecture Friday at 5 p.m.

Staff writer Ashley Lauwereins can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

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