Term III Students Curate and Host Art Exhibit

June 14 2017
Category: Academics

Student exhibit for Term III class on museum studies

Term III at Elmira College is a special six-week session that provides students with a deeper look into new topics and subjects through experiential learning. One experience this spring included a museum studies class. 

These students learned firsthand the steps in selecting and appreciating different forms of artwork, as well as planning and hosting an exhibit. The class culminated with an exhibit displayed in the Gannett-Tripp Library lobby. 

“Too often, people think of ‘art’ as something static, an object stuck in a museum that you learn to ‘appreciate.’  In reality, art, as with all products of the human imagination, reflects profound social, psychological, and political truths about real people's lives and experiences,” said Dr. Mark Pitner, assistant professor of Asian history.

The exhibit titled, Peasantry, Paintings, & Propaganda, featured a mixture of mediums, but focused on four peasant paintings from Huxian, China, to showcase how modern Chinese artwork conveys both traditional roots and communist influences.

“The work students have curated in this exhibition raises interesting questions about national identity, social realism, and propaganda that are strikingly similar to those raised by Socialist Realism in the Soviet Union and the Regionalism of Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood in the United States,” explained Dr. Pitner.

Dr. Charles Mitchell, professor of American studies and dean of academic affairs, spoke at the exhibit’s opening reception.

“This course, Introduction to Museum Studies, not only explores the concept of what a museum is and does, but also gives students hands-on experience working with art and historical objects. Students work together to plan, develop, and execute a professional quality exhibition,” said Dr. Mitchell.

“I am delighted with this year's exhibition, which explores the history of modern China through the tumultuous and sometimes violent history surrounding Chinese peasant painters. This history is infused with layered tensions over such fundamental questions as: What constitutes an artist? What is the relationship between art and politics? What defines originality? What does it mean when art is commodified?”

Click here to learn more about Term III experiences.