Thursday, October 4, 2012

Rambling Memories and a Plea for Help

Mom and Dad home on the farm around 1980 maybe
I was reminiscing tonight on FB about the very first time my mom and dad saw my work exhibited publicly. The occasion was SIUE's 25th Anniversary Alumni Exhibition in 1982. A photograph of mine had been juried into the show. I'd been teaching about 9 years by then and in those days I was a teacher first. The thought of calling myself an artist hadn't even entered my vocabulary.  My dad was about as excited as I'd ever seen him.  He and mom just smiled and smiled. Dad passed away the following year.

The exhibit was held in the Morris University Center Gallery which served as the only gallery for the art department which in those days barely had a presence on campus. The art department started out in the basement of the Science Building and then studios eventually moved piece by piece uptown to Edwardsville (a few miles away) to the Wagner Complex an old factory site that art ended up occupying for 25 years. Art Ed and Art History stayed on campus so while I was pursuing my teaching degree I did quite a lot of traveling back and forth. Years later when I began taking workshops they were held at Wagner.

Over the years I've been in a few more exhibits at the MUC Gallery--a summer printmaking workshop exhibit, a textile club invitational and a few years ago I'm proud to say I was juried into the 50th Anniversary Alumni Exhibit. The MUC has seen hundreds of exhibits overseen first by the University Museum and then taken over by the art department a few years ago. It serves an important function being in the center of campus and accessible to the entire student body while the art department's gallery is on the southwest fringe of the main campus well away from the hubbub. Now the MUC Gallery is in danger of being closed!

The art department moved into new digs on campus 20 years ago. Now those "new" digs are being renovated extensively and the (formerly) New Wagner Gallery in that building has been demolished. A new addition to the art department will house painting and drawing, a lecture room, a new larger gallery, and for the first time art history, art education and art therapy are moving in from across campus. It is exciting but awfully frustrating right now as none of the construction/renovation is actually finished yet and teachers and students are trying to carry on classes. What a mess.

I suspect that the MUC administration has decided that since the art department is getting a new gallery there will be no need of the gallery in MUC. They have announced the closure will take place in Spring 2013. What they have not considered is that there is great demand for gallery space, not only by art students, visiting artists, etc. but that other departments and entities on campus depend on that gallery space for exhibiting research. The art department has launched a petition drive in hopes of stopping the closure. If you are a student or alumni of SIUE, or a resident of Madison County/Southern Illinois who has visited the campus in past, please help the art department fight this closure by following this link and signing the petition.  Many thanks!  (SIUE is Southern Illinois University Edwardsville for those of you not from this area.)

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