At the IU Art Museum’s special exhibitions gallery, two unique exhibits share an emphasis on the artists’ techniques and experimentation with their crafts.
“Sculpture Transformed: The Work of Marjorie Schick” features 67 works of art from the internationally renowned contemporary craft artist Schick, who received her MFA with distinction in jewelry and metalsmithing in 1966 from IU.
“The Second Wave: Modern Japanese Prints from Bloomington Collections” features 40 modern Japanese woodblock prints, including prints from the museum’s collection and some borrowed from local collectors.
The exhibits premiered on Oct. 6 as part of the museum’s fall special exhibition program.
Jenny McComas, the museum’s curator of western art after 1800, is excited that the museum is presenting a contemporary craft exhibition.
“It’s a little unusual for us,” she said. “I think it will have a great appeal to a wide variety of visitors.”
The artwork in “Sculpture Transformed” traces Schick’s experimentation with the body’s relation to form, texture and color through her “brilliantly colored, mixed-media works that are simultaneously ornamental, performative, visual and tactile,” according to the exhibit’s news release.
Schick, a professor at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, has pieces in many of the world’s major museums, from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London to the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul. She came to Bloomington for the opening of "Sculpture Transformed."
“She gave a great lecture on the development of her work,” said McComas. Schick was not in Bloomington during the installation of the exhibition, but McComas said she enjoyed meeting her at the opening.
And it’s a nice coincidence that the museum is featuring a retrospective by an IU graduate at the same time it celebrates the 25th anniversary of its building designed by I.M. Pei, she said.
To complement the exhibit, a selection of contemporary jewelry on loan from a private collection, including metal pieces by Schick’s mentor, Alma Eikerman, a pioneer in the field of metalsmithing, is on view in the museum’s first-floor Gallery of Western Art.
The other exhibit included in the fall special exhibition program is “The Second Wave: Modern Japanese Prints from Bloomington Collections.” The collection of 20th-century prints, largely borrowed from Bloomington collectors, “celebrates the pioneers of woodblock movements who reinvented and rejuvenated woodblock printing in Japan in the 20th century,” according to the news release.
Judy Stubbs, the Pamela Bell curator of Asian art at the IU Art Museum, said it has always been her goal to bring a wide variety of Asian art to the collections. When she realized the number of Japanese prints in local Bloomington collections, she thought this type of exhibit would be an opportunity for the museum, as well as a chance for visitors to learn more about 20th-century Japanese art.
"The Second Wave" is divided into two parts that represent the two print movements: “New Prints” (Shin Hanga) and “Creative Prints” (Sosaku Hanga). Both movements sought to elevate prints to a status equal to that of painting, and collectors responded with enthusiasm to both, according to the exhibit’s news release.
“New Prints” developed as a response to the popularity of 18th- and 19th-century Japanese prints in the West. Professional carvers and printers executed the designs and produced polished prints that were popular with Westerners, particularly those in the Armed Services in Japan following World War II.
“Creative Prints,” on the other hand, were influenced by Western art techniques. The artists of these prints cut their own blocks, inked them and pulled their own prints, resulting in rougher and more expressive prints.
Local collector Grafton Trout, professor Scott O’Bryan and professor Rudy Pozzatti will each give noon talks as part of the exhibit (Nov. 14 and 28 and Dec. 5). Stubbs said each adds an interesting perspective, as Trout will talk about his personal experience collecting the artwork in Japan in the 1950s, O’Bryan will put the print movement in a cultural and historical context and Pozzatti will talk about the printmaking process.
“It will give people a personal view, a world view and a look at the process itself,” she said.
Alison Hamm can be reached at email@example.com.