Kicking off the school year, the Center for the Arts hosted an exhibit featuring MSUM faculty’s favorite collections: anything from thrift store finds to items they are personally connected to were fair game.
Starting on August 27 and running through September 13, the CA was filled with various types of “collections” some might say; others may refer to them as mere hobbies. Findings ranged from nostalgic toys to magnetic fridge décor to fashion statement pieces for babies. Each faculty member’s contribution had a small story, as every piece of art does. These stories could conveniently be found in a neat binder at the information desk. These brief descriptions gave background, not only on the collection itself, but possibly on the owner as well.
Upon entering the exhibit area, visitors were greeted by an array of blue designed chinaware, called “flow blue pottery.” This initial collection is right from President Anne Blackhurst’s kitchen. As she collects these pieces, she wonders if her “love for old things” stems from her parents antique dealing. The flow blue pottery, which actually originates from 19th century England, is a favorite in her home.
Near President Blackhurst’s pottery hung a group of black and white enlarged vintage photos. This addition was contributed by Yolanda Arauza; the photos were taken by the Arauza and Lara families in southern Texas between 1923 and 1976. Arauza believes the pictures depict “cotillion life of Mexican Americans,” including pride in their work, joy and faith in their everyday lives and the determination that drove them. Segregation and discrimination in southern Texas at the time is also conveyed.
The photos weren’t the only source of nostalgia throughout the exhibit. Chris Walla contributed a group of old-fashioned toys. As he travels through thrift stores or antique shops, he gravitates to are the things that are “in a strange territory of tacky and nostalgic” or that simply make him laugh. He wants to give a home to the toys that appear aged and show a past but are unable to expose their secrets.
Another addition from President Blackhurst was a compilation of marathon posters that she has collected from participation. She reminisced about her first poster, which she received back in 2010 while taking part in her first marathon for her 50th birthday. After collecting for eight years, she has 11 posters and is preparing to get her twelfth. She has a defined “ritual” now: she purchases the poster then waits until she finishes the marathon to frame it.
“Together they symbolize the excitement of race day and the inspiration I always feel as I run my own race,” President Blackhurst added to the end of her piece’s description.
The next collection, by Shireen Alemadi, sticks to the wall, and the fridge… and anything that is magnetic actually. Alemadi brought in a large assortment of magnets dating anywhere from 20 years ago to the present. When collecting, she looks for anything from travel-related, humorous, inspirational or motivational. Her most recent few include some magnets from Sioux Falls she collected while supporting the MSUM girls basketball team.
Dean Earnest Lamb brought a distinctive kind of art to the exhibit with his collection of ceramic heads. He began collecting these in 2004. Throughout the process, he found he was attracted to a specific style of these ceramic art pieces.
He has found three common traits in his collection: “1) The subject is a person of color; 2) [He does not own a single bust; 3) They are all made of clay.”
He found that the titles of the pieces imply the artist is connected with, “Euro-centric representations of beauty, justice, and religious martyrdom in art.” He has a full collection of 12 heads, but he included only three in this exhibit.
On the way out of the gallery, a bundle of colorful bowties were scattered along the wall, courtesy of Catie Miller. She said they belonged to her son, Otto, and were his “signature” look. All hand-crafted with scraps of fabric and hot glue, she thought they added something to the “boring onesie ensemble.”
Whether these pieces were a look into the faculty members’ pasts or simply something they enjoy collecting, checking out this exhibit provided a great way to get to know the faculty.