Three new exhibitions are presented at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University until January 2: “Anila Quayyum Agha: The Weight of Black”, “The Joy Fields” and “Outside In”.
Related academic programs are featured throughout the fall semester, and faculty from all disciplines are also welcome to schedule classes or lead individual students for viewing at their own pace.
“Our organizing theme for 2021 is juxtaposition,” said Cindi Malinick, museum director and chief curator. “From Roman Baroque to contemporary crafts, visitors saw a wide range of artistic narratives and historical periods throughout the academic year. In closing, we focus on the fascinating work of two contemporary artists with unique storytelling styles as well as a surprising way to interpret Auburn’s vast Audubon collection.
“The Weight of Black” presents three installations in the galleries: “Traveling Shadows”, a series of small cubes attached to the wall, “Shimmering Mirage”, a three-foot cube suspended in the air, and “This is NOT a refuge, ”an eight-foot lighted house. The black walls are covered in shadows, creating an immersive experience.
Agha, who will meet the students during the “Sculpture as Object” class during a campus tour, is a 2020-21 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
“Having lived on the borders of different faiths such as Islam and Christianity, and in cultures such as Pakistan and the United States of America, my art is deeply influenced by the simultaneous sense of alienation and transience that informs the experience of migrants, ”said Agha. “This awareness of knowing what is markedly different in the human experience also carries the gift of knowing its fundamental commonalities, and it is these tensions and contradictions that I try to embody in my work.”
“For a contrast in technique and media, the work of Auburn alumnus Whitney Wood Bailey floods the galleries differently – with vibrant colors and a monumental scale,” said Malinick. “His personal story is just as compelling. “
With 24 paintings on display, the series “The Joy Fields” began as a result of an illness that changed the artist’s life. Wood Bailey has become intolerant of most foods, environments, and even her painting process. The lack of a cure brought her to what she described as a dark place.
“After several months of practicing a particular neuroplasticity-based program, I was able to return to my studio and work again with paint, among other triumphs,” said Wood Bailey. “A new kind of joy, which does not depend on the circumstances of life, has started to seep into my life, bringing energy, savagery and dynamism to my work.”
The Georgia native, who is on display at home and abroad, said she considers the investigation to be one of her most personal and meaningful work, reflecting a healing journey. Museum visitors will have the opportunity to experiment with organic and controlled techniques during an art activity inspired by the exhibit at 1:30 p.m. on November 14.
The last part of “Outside In”, a collaboration with the Natural History Museum, completes the exhibition program. Following examples of fruits, nuts and flowers, various insect specimens are associated with Audubon engravings.
“Researchers are celebrating Audubon for the level of artistry in portraying birds and mammals, but there is even more environmental detail available in these prints,” said Malinick. “Life-size insects give a complete picture of the habitat. “
The Audubon collection rotates and rests between visits for conservation. Malinick said the approach to future exhibitions could likely involve collaborations to present this collection in unexpected and interactive ways.
Located at 901 S. College St. in Auburn, the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with extended hours on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is free and donations are welcome.
For more information, visit jcsm.auburn.edu.