DELAWARE, Ohio – The result is “New Art / New Mexico,” an exhibit featuring 26 artists from northern New Mexico selected by Ohio Wesleyan University students who visited the artists in their homes and studios as part of a university-funded Theory-to-Practice Grant project.
The experience, students say, has provided them with new connections, new directions, and new visions of how to transform their Ohio Wesleyan classroom learning into fine arts careers.
“Meeting people behind the ever-changing art business – the artists, the gallery owners, the museum curators, the patrons – is an essential experience to the young artist and the aspiring curator, says Catie Beach, a sophomore and fine arts major from Columbus, Ohio. “The trip not only helped me better understand and make applicable use of the material learned in the gallery management class, but made me really understand the relevance of my liberal arts education as an art student. In New Mexico, my art history classes, my studio art classes, my Spanish classes, were all relevant.”
Beach was among six Ohio Wesleyan students who spent nearly three weeks traveling from Ohio to New Mexico in May and June 2013, visiting art galleries and learning about curating exhibits under the tutelage of Justin Kronewetter, M.F.A., director of Ohio Wesleyan’s Richard M. Ross Art Museum and professor emeritus of photography. Kronewetter still teaches the university’s gallery management class.
“This experience has shown OWU students what is involved in curating a professional art exhibition from start to finish,” says Kronewetter, noting that New Mexico’s Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos art communities comprise the third leading art market in the United States. Only the New York City and Los Angeles art markets are larger, he says.
Kronewetter says he had other motivations for writing the Theory-to-Practice Grant. “The motivation for my undertaking the project was multi-fold,” he explains. “In addition to providing students with hands-on curating experience, I wanted to provide opportunities for them to engage in an advanced level of museum studies in the form of individual internships. I also sought to organize a multi-media exhibition consisting of artwork created by African American, Native American, Hispanic, and Anglo artists in an effort to diversify our exhibition programming.”
The resulting “New Art / New Mexico” exhibition will be on display at the Ross Art Museum, 60 S. Sandusky St., Delaware, from Feb. 11 through March 30, with several of the artists traveling from New Mexico to Ohio to speak about their work in presentations that will be free and open to the general public.
The first presentation will feature fine arts photographer Nancy Sutor, who studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has taught at the College of Santa Fe. Sutor will speak at 4:10 p.m. Feb. 13 in Room 121 of OWU’s Edgar Hall, 35 S. Sandusky St., Delaware. Her keynote address will be followed by an exhibit-opening reception at the nearby Ross Art Museum. Learn more about the artist at nancysutor.com.
Other artists exhibiting in “New Art / New Mexico” are Kent Bowser, Laura Dean, Margaret Fitzgerald, Gus Foster, Lenny Foster, Victor Goler, Ed Haddaway, Betty Heald, Nicholas Herrera, David Michael Kennedy, Jennifer Lynch, Nina Morrow, Jill Pease, Carlos Rael, Deborah Rael-Buckley, Reina, Anita Rodriguez, Ellen Schechner-Johnson, Jan Sessler, Roxanne Swentzell, Luis Tapia, Jim Vogel, Wendy Young, Craig Varjabedian, and Will Wilson.
Kronewetter says students will gain additional practical experience by helping to mount the exhibition, serving as hosts for the visiting artists, organizing and promoting the opening reception, and more. “Simply stated, the students have been actively engaged in behind-the-scenes planning for much of the 2013-2014 school year,” he concludes.
Student Catie Beach says the exhibit represents “an informative collection of regionalist art as well as a collective portrait of New Mexico’s unique cultural and environmental distinctions.”
“I hope my peers take away the spirit of Southwestern culture and the landscape,” Beach says. “The visiting artists were specially selected by our student group as some of the most insightful, spiritual, and life-changing individuals we met on the trip. I hope that their view of the world, created by their connections to New Mexico’s culture and environment, will positively change my peers’ understanding of the spiritual relevance of art, home, and earth to their own lives.”
Senior Amy LeFebvre, a studio art major and sociology-anthropology minor, says the experience already has helped connect different academic perspectives.
“At the time [of the trip in summer 2013], I had just finished a course on the Native American cultures of the Southwest for my minor and was really passionate about the Southwest,” says LeFebvre, a resident of Granville, Mass. “In a way, it was a Course Connection for me, combining my interests in art with my interests in sociology and anthropology. One of my professors had suggested me for the trip, and I was invited aboard. That’s one of the great things about professors here – they know your interests and passions and can help direct you to follow your path.”
Ohio Wesleyan’s Ross Art Museum is open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is handicap-accessible and admission is always free. Call (740) 368-3606 or visit ross.owu.edu for more information.
To learn more about Ohio Wesleyan’s Department of Fine Arts, visit finearts.owu.edu. To learn more about the Theory-to-Practice Grant program or Course Connections curricular initiative, visit owuconnection.owu.edu.
Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private, coed university offers more than 90 undergraduate majors, sequences, and courses of study, and competes in 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Ohio Wesleyan combines a challenging, internationally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities to connect classroom theory with real-world practice. OWU’s 1,850 students represent 42 states and 37 countries. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.