Feature

Students leave their mark
On-campus art you may have missed

By Surabhi Mahajan

Walking around campus, one is taken aback by the leaves falling and how the shiny red bricks look in the rain. There is no doubt that Willamette is a beautiful campus. That is, after all, one of the ways Admissions convinces you to enroll here. But, as students, the main use of our time is spent indoors. No matter how bright the sun is shining or how loudly the wind howls, most of us are inside a building writing papers or reading assignments. However, even when we are indoors, there are ways to recharge your mind by engaging with beauty. One way to observe beauty without having to go outside is through the curated art exhibits that can be found around campus. By no means is this a complete and thoroughly researched list of exhibits around campus, but it is a glimpse into the little pockets of beauty and art tucked into the buildings students visit every day. Listed below are different places around campus with art exhibitions, as well as opportunities for students to get involved in contributing to beautifying academic spaces.

Hallie Ford Museum of Art
The Hallie Ford Museum of Art is free to all Willamette students. This shouldn’t be surprising, because the entire mission of the Hallie Ford Museum is to support University curriculum, as well as to be a cultural and intellectual space for Salem community members. They feature historical and contemporary art with a regional focus.
The exhibits highlight Pacific Northwest artists, serving to shed light on and empower them. One of the permanent exhibitions at the Hallie Ford focuses on Native history in the Pacific Northwest, titled “Ancestral Dialogues: Conversations in Native American Art.”
There are also exhibitions every semester in the main galleries that highlight specific Pacific Northwest artists. The current exhibitions are “A Contemporary Bestiary” and “John James Audubon: Birds of America,” which are being shown currently until Dec. 21 and Oct. 26, respectively.
An upcoming exhibition, called “Roger Shimomura: Works on Paper,” is going to be revealed Nov. 8 and will run until February of next semester.
If you want to learn t how museum exhibitions are constructed and gain first-hand exposure to amazing works of art and artists, there are many internship opportunities at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art. There are student internships offered each semester as well as during the summer.
Olivia Lawther, class of 2012, explained her time and experience interning at the Museum.
“Being an intern at the Hallie Ford was one of the most eye-opening and rewarding experiences of my tenure at Willamette. I was able to take a hands-on approach to many projects and experience all the intricacies of working in a museum, as well as feel a connection to the Northwest art community,” Lawther said. “As I am particularly interested in conservation, working at the Hallie Ford Museum gave me the capability to meet professionals in the field.”
If you’re not sure about taking on the commitment of a full internship and are wondering what different careers are available, you could always join the Museum club and learn about museum practices at your own pace.

Museum Studies Seminar
The anthropology 303 seminar is taught by Professor Rebecca Dobkins. It provides students with the opportunity to engage in the art process around campus. The different opportunities include students curating the prints on the fourth floor of Eaton Hall, organizing a basket exhibit on the fifth floor of Waller in front of the President’s office and interning with the new museum at the Grand Ronde Reservation.
The exhibits on the fourth floor of Eaton and the fifth floor of Waller, though high in traffic, are examples of art work on campus that do not get as much acknowledgment as they could. These exhibits aim to show the viewer a specific theme, to open them up to new experiences and to provide the viewer with knowledge they might not have had before.
“I like that there are messages behind what is put up, and intention behind what the artist did and why the university has put it up,” junior AES major Tiffany Chan said.
On the fifth floor of Waller, in the President’s office, there is a student curated exhibit on Native baskets.
The President’s office requested this exhibit from the permanent collection in the Hallie Ford Museum of Art. The opportunity to choose the theme, select the baskets, contact the artists and install the baskets was given to students from the museum studies seminar.
Another opportunity given to students through this course was to curate an exhibit on the fourth floor of Eaton Hall.
Currently, there is also a student-organized exhibit created by the museum studies seminar from 2010. Students from the 2014 museum studies seminar have also created a online exhibition, since the physical artwork will not be installed until Oct. 23, 2014. This allows viewers to experience the exhibition online if they’re not able to view it in person.

Studio Art Major
Studio art majors have many opportunities to get involved during their time at Willamette. If you are someone who not only wants to learn about different artists and about analyzing different themes, but also wants to create art, then you should consider becoming a studio art major.
During one’s tenure as a studio art major, there are many opportunities for students to showcase their work. There are student galleries that have historically showcased student artwork on the ground floor of the Art Building. However, because of administrative offices shifting, the student art gallery will no longer be open.
But, no fear! Another amazing opportunity art seniors have is to showcase their senior projects in an exhibition at the end of the year open to the Willamette and Salem community. These student pieces also go up for sale at the end of the exhibition.
The University is one of the main proprietors of these pieces. Student artwork is installed all over campus.
Junior AES major Tiffany Chan describes one flaw in the way the University goes about showcasing senior art majors’ work.
“I think something that we could do is to highlight these students’ works,” Chan said. “Like, I know for me, my friend has a sculpture on the UC third floor, and if I had not gone to her senior art show, I would not have known that it was there.”
All of these different opportunities to be engaged with art and beauty on campus don’t just prove that we have reasons to be happy even when the sun isn’t out. They prove how for granted we take our fellow students’ work around campus. Even if we’re nowhere near close to being interested in paintings or sculptures, we should encourage each other by at least engaging with the hard work our fellow students put into curating an exhibit, or making a piece of art, or coming up with a theme or an idea that they’ve been able to translate into reality.
Some of these exhibitions stay in academic buildings even after students have moved on from Willamette.
“I think it is important to have student art engagement in academic buildings, because it is physical reminders and markers of students who have come before us, and [who] are doing what they love. They have been able to make their art and now it’s on display for people to see on a daily basis,” Chan said. “When I look at the art made by friends who have graduated, it reminds me of them being here at WU and that students may leave four, five years later from WU, but they can still have a presence on campus.”

smahajan@willamette.edu