May 22, 2013

Exhibits will highlight University history, artwork

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Several summer exhibits at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s University Museum will highlight important aspects of the University’s history.

Exhibits that open June 11 will showcase the early years of SIU Carbondale, residential life on campus, and the artwork of L. Brent Kington and Lee and Eldon Benz.

The University School exhibit coincides with a reunion of graduates of the model high school that was part of campus from 1874 to 1971.  The Board of Trustees established the model high school at what was then Southern Illinois Normal University to provide a training laboratory for future elementary and high school teachers.  The school went through several names, but the mission remained providing a learning environment for both teachers and students.

A second University history exhibit, 100th Anniversary of University Housing celebrates, as the name implies, residential life on campus.  Museum Registrar Eric S. Jones curates both exhibits, which run through July 26.

The L. Brent Kington Memorial Exhibit honors the late metalsmith and professor of art, L. Brent Kington (1934-2013), whose artistic skill and dedication to the University put SIU Carbondale on the fine arts map in a whole new way.  Many in the art world consider Kington an artistic blacksmithing pioneer. He joined the School of Art and Design faculty in 1961 and retired in 1996 after serving as professor and, for several years, director of the art school. This exhibit also runs through July 26.

A fourth exhibit, featuring the artwork of multi-media talent Lee Benz (1918-1986) is part of Mother and Son: The Art of Lee and Eldon Benz.  Lee Benz produced art in several media, most particularly in watercolor, but also in woodcut print, serigraphs, and sculpture.  With much of her work destroyed in a fire, her son, Eldon Benz, an SIU Carbondale alumnus and artist, is preserving what of his mother’s art that he can through digitized computer technology.  This exhibit showcases their works and runs through Aug. 24.

The University Museum will host a public reception for these exhibits from 4 to 7 p.m. on June 21 in the museum atrium.