November 07, 2007

Museum to host faculty, MFA candidates art shows

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. — It's not a competition, never has been, and isn't intended that way.

But it's hard not to notice that the Southern Illinois University Carbondale Combined Faculty Art Show is in a gallery just across the atrium from the Masters of Fine Arts Candidates' Preview Show at the University Museum. And that makes it very easy to check out what the graduate students have to offer and then mosey on down the way to see what the faculty brought to the exhibit.

Visitors to the museum can do that and more at a reception to open both exhibits beginning at 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 9, at the University Museum. The exhibits remain on display through the end of the semester.

Museum Director Dona Bachman said the one thing that can always be expected at both exhibits is variety. The MFA students' exhibit offers a sneak peek at what the students will present in the spring semester as their master works – the art they expect to use as an admission ticket to join a highly trained artist community. Ceramic, glass, photography, prints, metals, jewelry – everything from the utilitarian and beautiful to the abstract and thought provoking, comes into the museum during the MFA exhibits.

The faculty exhibit, too, is unpredictable and varied. Bachman said the exhibit is limited to faculty – but not to any particular school or college in the University. With the opening reception just days away, exhibit designer Nate Steinbrink has his hands full, with prints carefully leaning against the walls on which they will hang, a great big snake in a whimsical snake house commanding a central section of floor, a uniquely designed book waiting to find its space and more art coming in the door.

Besides the two new exhibits, museum visitors can get into the holiday spirit. The New Deal Holiday Greeting Cards exhibit, featuring 64 print cards signed by original artists including Diego Rivera, Rockwell Kent and John Steuart Curry, is already on display. The collection is on loan from Indiana State University at Terre Haute.

"Some of the cards really don't have anything holiday about them," Bachman said. "These were commissioned as part of the Works Progress Administration program and were intended as holiday cards. But the project was never finished. These cards in this exhibit are the originals, signed by the artists."

Finally, this year the University Museum gift store features original art by students. Southern Glass Works, the student glass program, offers reasonably priced glass bulbs for sale that are perfect for the holiday decorations or gifts or year-round for any place that needs a shot of color and beauty.

"The students need these fund-raising opportunities to keep buying glass, materials and equipment," Steinbrink said. "They are actively involved with supporting their department."