This exhibition explored the role of the American West as a site for rebirth and enchantment, specifically through artists and composers who explored the visionary interpretations of the landscape in visual or musical forms inspired by Theosophical ideas. Curated by a group of international scholars, selected works conveyed local and regional connections to Theosophically-inspired artists and musicians while also placing them within the international network of enchanted culture that flourished in the early 20th century.
So what is Theosophy? While its roots go back thousands of years, beginning from the 1500s forward, it has generally been associated with the practices of using knowledge and observations of nature and one's self as a way to understand the divinity in nature both physically and metaphysically.
This exhibit included historical photographs by Walter Lehrman and John Suiter showing intimate portraits of trailblazing poets and authors from the Beat generation of the 1950s. Some of the poets featured in this exhibit were Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, and Philip Whalen. These men are shown in rare photographs attending parties, sitting for impromptu portrait paintings, and giving public readings of their work. Collaborating with the Special Collections and Archives Department in the USU Merrill-Cazier Library, the art museum presented a number of black and white photos that give a glimpse into the life of these great figures of 20th Century literature. Also included in the exhibit were original publications of work by these men, and background information on their lives and inspiration.
This selection of artwork from the permanent collection embraced a diverse range of forms and showcased work by important women artists. Rather than representing a certain artistic style or focusing on specific subjects depicted by women, this exhibition featured a variety of styles and subjects. Included were representations of the female form, critiques of the objectification of the female body, and experiments with total abstraction. Highlights included posters by the Guerilla Girls, an installation piece by Ilene Segalove, photography from the second wave of feminism, and minimalist drawings and paintings.
This exhibit was an exploration of how artists have used light as a medium or subject matter. Several large pieces focused on artists featured in the Pacific Standard Time exhibitions from Los Angeles who are considered to be the leaders of the light and space art movement of the 1970s. The artists in this exhibit brought up philosophical issues about how the brain perceives the world, and these artworks expanded the ideas of what materials are actually considered to be art. At the same time, this work created enchanting experiences of color, shadow, and shape that surely entertained all ages. The exhibit also included one of the most significant artworks in the museum's collection: a Plexiglas disc installation by Robert Irwin.
This exhibit, located in the Study Center, was composed of work by Harrison Groutage, Everett Thorpe, and Gaell Lindstrom. On February 5 of 2013, Harrison Groutage passed away at age 87 of kidney failure. Those who knew him said he was adventurous and saw beauty in everything. This exhibit is partially a commemoration of him and his artistic legacy at Utah State University. All three of these artists are former USU faculty and are known for their emotive paintings of Utah terrain. The Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art is proud to hold this fine collection of creative and beautiful landscapes. Tied together by their love of Utah scenery as well as art education, Groutage's, Thorpe's, and Lindstrom's works complement each other and emphasize the inner complexity of a simple landscape.
New Acquisitions 2013
June 21 - December 10, 2013
This exhibit featured nine works of art recently donated to the museum by the late Joe Austin. These artworks are avante garde pieces from the 1970s and 1980s by artists working in the Los Angeles area and include an early painting by Lari Pittman. The exhibit was displayed in the upstairs gallery.
Beginning in 2005, Joe Austin gave a number of important works to the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art. He died in March 2013 in Los Angeles at the age of 74. Mr. Austin donated modern and contemporary artworks by Alison Saar, Charles Gaines, Dewain Valentine, and Peter Shire among others. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he was a successful attorney and a passionate supporter of the visual arts throughout his life. To learn more about this important benefactor, see his obituary in the L.A. Times by clicking on this link: Joe Austin Obituary.
Industrial Ethos: Photography by Chris Dunker
February 1 - May 4, 2013
Northern Utah-based photographer, Chris Dunker presents 21 selections of his work in the exhibit, "Industrial Ethos". These photographs address the culture of industry and how industry appears over time. Dunker's fascination with urban decay provides a dystopian look at the modern, optimistic attitude of industry and manufacturing that has marked the progress and historical significance of northern Utah. Also included in the exhibit are antique books and photographs from Dunker's personal collection that document some of the earliest industrial breakthroughs such as steam turbines and generators.
Certain industries, local to Cache Valley and the northern Utah region, are featured in this exhibit including ICON Health and Fitness, Thermo Fisher, Nucor Steel, and Sirtec Plastics.
ideas: an exhibition
January 22 - May 4, 2013
This exhibit was the result of student research, collaboration, and discovery in an experimental art history course on Conceptual Art. Students in the Fall 2012 course, Art History 5730: The Art Museum were offered the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with the curator of the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art to explore the meanings of Conceptual Art. This workshop-style course engaged the students in the history of the Conceptual Art movement on the west coast that began in the 1960s and continued into the 1990s. The students had reading assignments, group discussions, and even a hands-on investigation of certain art objects in the museum's collection. This exhibit is the result of their research and creative cooperation to present the wide array of Conceptual Art forms and meanings.includes artwork by a variety of conceptual artists who created art primarily as an outlet for their ideas. The exhibit illustrates enlightening juxtapositions of conceptual artwork that have never been seen together. A catalog is available with the exhibit that contains each student's research and an in-depth analysis for most of the pieces on display. During the exhibition opening, the students involved in the curatorial process spoke about the artworks they researched and about conceptual art in general.
“Conceptual Art rarely resembles traditional art objects,” museum curator Deb Banerjee noted. "Conceptual artists often felt their idea would come first and then the form or media would follow that best fit their idea."
Adventures in the West
August 30 - December 10, 2012
This exhibit was shown in conjunction with the 11th Biennial Jack London Society Symposium held in Logan, Utah and co-sponsored by the USU Department of English and the USU Special Collections Department in the Merrill - Cazier Library. The symposium was held October 4-6, 2012, but this exhibit was on display in the museum's Upstairs Gallery throughout the fall semester. Featuring majestic landscape photos by Ansel Adams and Brett Weston, the exhibit explored the rugged, historical, and dangerous qualities of the western world portrayed in Jack London's writing. Certain drawings and photographs in this exhibit were on display in the museum for the first time, and they helped explore literary themes of naturalism, courage, modern American values, and man's precarious relationship to his natural environment.
January 16, 2012 - June 11, 2012
This new exhibit provides a rare opportunity to introduce many significant works by this artist to the USU community. With 27 paintings and drawings on display, this exhibition shows how Starrett's works, "...vibrate with such cool passion, such fiery ice, that they seem at once both hard products of a systematic rationality, of an almost mechanical design, and works of extraordinary emotional resonance...", - Patrick E. White.
by Jean-Pierre Hébert
This mysterious installation is a recent acquisition for the art museum. This new exhibit provides a rare opportunity to introduce many significant works by this artist to the USU community. With 27 paintings and drawings on display, this exhibition shows how Starrett's works, "...vibrate with such cool passion, such fiery ice, that they seem at once both hard products of a systematic rationality, of an almost mechanical design, and works of extraordinary emotional resonance...", - Patrick E. White. It creates numerous geometric drawings in a frame of sand through a moving, metal ball. The drawings are created by a magnetic motorized apparatus connected to a computer. Both mezmerizing and modern, this installation explores the boundless possibilites of combining art and technology.
Bang! Thwack! Plop!
Comics: an Influence on Contemporary Art
June 14, 2011 - July 28, 2012
Art and comics have a complex relationship. This exhibition explores the intersection of comics and art with specific attention on how certain themes and stylistic forms have crossed over from the genre of comics into the world of visual art. Many professional artists have drawn and/or published comics and even worked in a cartoon style while others have used actual comics as material for their assemblages or collages. The exploding popularity of comics, mostly through animation and graphic novels, shows us the graphic, or comic, impulse has become a compelling means of artistic communication. This exhibit helps point toward a growing interdisciplinary trend in the arts that allows for a flow of ideas between media and form, creating a liberation of high art. This exhibit opened in mid June of 2011 and is on display in the museum's upper gallery with the official opening reception held on October 31st, 2011.
June 14, 2011 - December 6, 2011
Passacaglia: A Spotlight on Sculpture
January 16, 2011 - May 10, 2011
As a celebration of this distinctive feature on USU campus, the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art presents an exhibit about this sculpture; its history, innovation, contruction, and creation. This exhibit includes schematic drawings, the model of the sculpture, and installation photographs by distinguished architectural photographer, Grant Mudford. This exhibit will be open through the summer of 2011 and is displayed in conjunction with the first annual Celebrate the Arts Week for Utah State University's new Caine College of the Arts.
EcoVisionaries: Designs for Living on Earth
August 31, 2010 - May 9, 2011
Whether they are radical or practical ideas, many artists have envisoned alternative ways of living. This exhibition includes socially engagaed artists (the Harrisons and Ant Farm) who see out and propose radical concepts using unusual materials to create innovations that reduce the impact of humans or preserve natural environments.
Evidence and Artifacts: Particle Matter 2.5
August 31, 2010 - January 11, 2011
The photos in this exhibit are part of Christopher M. Gauthiér’s series Evidence and Artifacts: Particle Matter 2.5 which explores the air quality in Cache Valley. The exhibit ran through Jan. 11, 2011.
Gauthiér’s photographs were made in the midst of ice, fog and inversion, a natural and manmade regional weather phenomenon in which beauty and toxicity combine. Development, manufacturing, transportation, pollution and agriculture all contribute to the growing problem of air quality,” Gauthiér said. Through his photography, Gauthiér documents both the cause and effect of the growing air pollution problem in Cache Valley during the coldest days of the year, giving special attention to the issue of particulate matter.
The Environmental Protection Agency defines particulate matter, also known as particle pollution or PM, as a mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets. And, the EPA continues, the size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. Exposure to such particles can affect both lungs and heart. Small particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest problems because they can get deep into lungs and some may even get into the bloodstream, according to the EPA website.
Uses of the Real, Part 2
July 2009 - August 2010
The Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art at Utah State University has received a major gift of 31 new works from the Kathryn C. Wanlass Foundation and Marie Eccles Caine Foundation. The new works are on display as part of the exhibition “Uses of the Real,” an exhibit that explores what constitutes art in today’s world.
Newly remodeled gallery spaces have also allowed the museum staff to bring out the collection in a way not experienced before. Walls have been knocked down and new fixtures have been installed to allow approximately 500 more objects to be put on display, including more than 100 photographs and 250 ceramic works usually stored away and inaccessible to the public.
“We hope the next time our visitors walk through the galleries they will be as delighted as we are because many of their favorite objects are now out of storage and available to enjoy,” said museum director Victoria Rowe Berry. The newly installed exhibition of “Uses of the Real” includes many new contemporary artists who explore the themes of postmodernism and reality. Artists in the exhibition take objects from the everyday world and transform them into art. From vintage upholstery fabric to a sparkling skeleton or chunks of cement to discarded musical instruments, museum visitors can see a wide variety of images and ideas.
Distinguished Alumni Exhibit at USU
Department of Art Project GalleryAn art exhibit featuring work by seven distinguished alumni from Utah State University is the final event in a year-long celebration marking the 100th birthday of the university’s Department of Art.
Sponsored by the art department and the Caine School of the Arts, the Department of Art Distinguished Alumni Exhibit opens March 23 and continues through April 25. The artists and scholars with work in the exhibition represent continuity from one century to another and span 30 years of education in studio and scholarly disciplines, said Art Department Head Carolyn Cardenas.
“What makes this alumnus show so remarkable is that everyone included in the exhibition has parlayed his or her student experiences into a successful professional career,” Cardenas said. “I believe that these extraordinary individuals have in common a solid foundation in the arts that was perpetrated through the art department at USU. The faculty members here are still committed to developing excellence in the practice, teaching and scholarship of the visual arts.”
The artists included in the exhibition were chosen by current faculty in the department of art and include Heather Ferrell (art history and photography, BFA '94), Brad Schwieger (ceramics, MFA '84), Scott Rockwood (graphic design, BFA '75), Jon Rappleye (painting, BFA '92), Steve Smith (photography, BFA '86), Abigail Knowlton Israelsen (printmaking, BFA '00) and Shelia Nadimi (sculpture, MFA '95). The show is also co-curated by Ferrell.
Visiting Artist Lecture: Sean Duffy
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2009
In conjunction with the exhibition, Uses of the Real: Selections from the Permanent Collection Sean Duffy’s work focuses on the sculptural transformation of objects such as filing cabinets, cars and audio equipment. His previous work includes a “grove” of speakers and wire that creates a sound sculpture viewers can activate with vinyl records. Duffy’s work also includes a record player rigged with three tone arms that simultaneously plays unmusical grooves, graphics from early video games evoking geometric abstraction, and drawings of macramé. In the summer of 2008, he completed an art installation at the Miami Art Museum using a Toyota Landcruiser and speakers made from 12 red five-gallon gas cans.
CONTEMPORARY WOMEN PRINTMAKERS FROM THE COLLECTIONS OF JORDAN D. SCHNITZER AND HIS FAMILY FOUNDATION
SEPTEMBER 15, 2008 – MARCH 1, 2009
Women's Work features the work of contemporary women printmakers from the collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer and his family foundation. Included in the exhibition are 56 prints by a number of contemporary women artists, including Anni Albers, Louise Nevelson, Louise Bourgeois, Barbara Kruger, Bridget Riley, Kiki Smith, Judy Pfaff, Pat Steir and Kara Walker, among others. The exhibition will present a wide variety of themes explored by contemporary women printmakers over the past 35 years, including abstraction, humor and satire, politics, race, gender and the environment.
Eden Revisited: The Ceramic Art of Kurt Weiser
SEPTEMBER 30 – DECEMBER 21, 2008
Organized by Arizona State University's Art Museum Ceramics Research Center, Eden Revisited: The Ceramic Art of Kurt Weiser is the first major mid-career survey exhibition on the ceramic work of Kurt Weiser. In the hands of Kurt Weiser, (b. 1950) the centuries-old tradition of china paint on porcelain is given new life. Weiser’s sumptuous, provocative teapots and jars, resplendent with lush jungle scenes, can be both alluring and unsettling. Detailed depictions of tropical splendor become wayward reveries as radiant colors and subtle distortions transform classic porcelain vessels.Weiser is a Regents' Professor in the ASU Herberger College of the Arts and maintains a studio in Tempe, Arizona. An unassuming genius, the artist is known for his technical mastery and inventive pottery forms. This hallmark exhibition comprises 40 ceramic sculptures and spans 30 years of creative excellence. Peter Held, curator of ceramics, curates the exhibition.
A catalog will accompany the exhibition.
Kurt Weiser Reception and Workshops
NOVEMBER 6-8, 2008
Weiser’s signature China-painted porcelain vessels constitute a groundbreaking development in the vessel tradition. The emotional content of the work focuses on the nature of desire, tenderly in and out of harmony with nature, providing a rich narrative with lush imagery. Weiser received his BFA in 1972 and his MFA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1976. From 1977 to 1988 he was resident director of the famed Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts, located in Helena, Montana. He was honored as a Fellow of the American Craft Council in 2003.
Weiser’s work can be found in the collections of Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Carnegie Institute, Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; National Museum of American Art,and Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. among others.
The Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art continues to exhibit Klompen — wooden shoes that dance midair. Klompen, is a sculpture consisting of 96 Dutch wooden clogs that “dance” a different rhythmic pattern each time the sculpture is activated. The sound sculpture was created by Seattle-based artist Trimpin.
USES OF THE REAL
Originality, Conditional Objects, Action/Documentation, and Contemplation
JANUARY 2008 -APRIL 2011
Contemporary art can be baffling. Artists sometimes take objects from the everyday world and transform them into art. What makes an object art? Is it originality, genuineness, authorship, or is it context? USU museum staff and guest curators selected works from the museum’s permanent collection that provoke the question “What makes it art?” Panel discussions and viewer participation projects will be sponsored during the exhibition through 2009. The museum’s major works of art will remain on display throughout the exhibit, but you won’t want to miss seeing the changes that will be occurring in our galleries as we explore with our viewers the questions associated with what makes art “real” art!
Traces - Montana's Frontier Revisited
Photography by Richard Buswell
MARCH 25 2008 THROUGH MAY 10, 2008
This exhibition contains photographs of hidden Montana ghost towns and isolated sites of early settlement. Through photographs of personal possessions and eroding structures, Dr. Buswell tells tales of nature’s reclamation of frontier sites. His new work explores abstract patterns seen in landscapes and everyday objects.
This exhibition is accompanied by an exhibition catalogue published by The University of Montana Press, with an essay by Julian Cox, Curator of Photography at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia.
Sight & Sound: A Visual Metaphor
SEPTEMBER 2005 THROUGH JULY 2008
Sight & Sound consists of selected paintings and sculptures from the museum’s permanent collection that provide a glimpse of the simultaneous revolutions in art and music that occurred during the twentieth century. Viewers can experience art with the added enhancement of music to gain an understanding of the liberation from traditional forms that transformed both modern art and culture. Located in two major galleries of the museum,this exhibition features listening posts where visitors can hear selections of works by twentieth-century composers such as Edgard Varèse, Luciano Berio, John Cage, George Antheil and Terry Riley. These selections were chosen by musicologist Eric Smigel to demonstrate the new ideas of space, time and the depiction of the new world of technology in art and music.
Abstracting the Land: Southwest Transcendentalism
NOVEMBER 2007 THROUGH MAY 3, 2008
This exhibition of artwork from the permanent collection focuses on painters working in New Mexico in the 1930s, called the Transcendental Painting Group. The group established themselves as artists who strove to define their art beyond the traditions of landscape, still life, and figurative imagery. The artwork selected for this exhibition exemplifies these artists’ explorations of the southwestern landscape, expressions of the sublime, and a universal shared sense of values in human experience. The group’s founding manifesto states the group’s intention to “carry painting beyond the appearance of the physical world through new concepts of space, color, light and design to imaginative realms that are idealistic and spiritual.”
Picturing Faith: Religious America in Government Photography, 1935 - 1943
FEBRUARY 5 THROUGH JUNE 28, 2008
Picturing Faith is a unique series of photographs showing the place of religion in American society through the lens of some of America's most well known photographers-Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and Gordon Parks. Co-sponsored by the Department of History / Religious Studies Program and the Mt. West Center for Regional Studies.
Maryann Webster - AquaGenesis
OCTOBER 25, 2005 - JUNE 29, 2006
Ms. Webster sculpts living things that come from the sea to make strong statements about nature and the environment. Casting real objects in porcelain and assembling them in twisted, distorted, and xaggerated forms to suggest the environmental damage and chemical pollution she feels is "irrevocably altering nature." Webster's sculptural forms are reminiscent of Bernard Palissy, a French ceramicist from the 1600s.
Semina Culture: Wallace Berman & His Circle
JANUARY 10, 2006 – MARCH 15, 2006
Organized by writers and independent curators Michael Duncan and Kristine McKenna and the Santa Monica Museum of Art this exhibition offers an extraordinary snapshot of the post-war arts underground in Southern California, a groundbreaking scholarly exploration of the individuals and communities Berman gathered around him as they worked, lived, created, played, and above all, collaborated.
The Singing Posters by Allen Ruppersberg
JANUARY – MARCH, 2006
Allen Ruppersberg's latest installation, The Singing Posters, is an homage to Allen Ginsberg and his famous poem, Howl (1955-1956). When Ruppersberg, who teaches at UCLA, discovered that his students had never heard of Howl, he conceived The Singing Posters as a way to introduce that important work to a new generation. For the installation Ruppersberg translated the poem into phonetic spellings and reintegrated them into the original text. The "new" text is printed on approximately 200 vibrantly colored commercial advertising posters installed floor to ceiling on the gallery walls.