For the past four years, faculty and alumni associated with the Department of Art at Miami University have been creating pieces to display in the Faculty and Alumni Exhibition at Miami’s Art Museum.
The exhibition, which showcases 55 artists and 64 works of art, debuted on Aug. 24 and will continue to show until Dec. 11. The exhibition routinely shows every four years and brings together pieces created by current faculty in the Department of Art, emeritus professors and alumni of the Department of Art.
Jason Shaiman, curator of exhibitions at Miami, said the exhibition does not have a theme, so artists can submit any piece they've created within the past four years.
“Very often, our exhibitions have a specific theme,” Shaiman said. “This exhibition allows the people to come in and just view art more for art’s sake and not have to consider how the works respond to a concept or a theme.”
Because there is no theme, artists are encouraged to create pieces outside of their typical mediums. The exhibition displays different types of art, from paintings to sculptures to fashion.
“There’s such a wide variety of abstract, as well as representational, pieces and a wide spectrum of media,” Shaiman said. “Everything from woodwork to ceramics, photography, printmaking, painting. Everyone has different interests in art and different styles, and I think this exhibition really represents that.”
The Faculty and Alumni Exhibition is one of Shaiman's favorite to curate because it’s a chance for current students at Miami to view past students’ work as well as their teachers’ pieces.
“It’s a unique opportunity for people to see the work of the faculty and the alumni because in most instances, the alumni, once they graduate, go on to do other things and don’t really have the opportunity to present their work here, and most faculty don’t show at their home institution,” Shaiman said.
Olivia De Leon, a junior studio art major at Miami, said she’s seen the exhibition twice since its opening. De Leon enjoyed the exhibition because she has personal connections with many of the teachers who have work displayed.
“I’ve had all these professors, so it was really interesting to see their works,” De Leon said. “It was really nice to see that they’re practicing artists and not just teaching it.”
De Leon thinks it’s important for art students to visit the exhibition because it’s a chance to see the techniques her professors explain in class.
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“A lot of the stuff that they teach in class, I saw it as an example through their work,” De Leon said. “My painting professor, Dana Saulnier, always talked about color a lot and the mixing of color, and when I saw his piece, I was like, ‘Oh that makes total sense.’”
Dana Saulnier, a professor of studio art in painting, has two pieces of different mediums in the show.
His painting, “Late November,” was created in 2019 and depicts a landscape with themes of tragedy. His sculpture, “Untitled,” was created at the beginning of the pandemic. In dialogue with the painting, the sculpture is based on landscape and also notes themes of tragedy.
This is Saulnier’s fourth time showing at the Faculty and Alumni Exhibition, and he plans to show again at the next one. Saulnier thinks the exhibition is a great way to display the art created at Miami.
“I think a lot of times, art is invisible at Miami, and I want viewers to see the vitality that is in the work of the alumni and the work that’s of the faculty,” Saulnier said. “I think it’s important that viewers can see the range of choices, the range of making and the high quality of the work that’s happening here.”
Jack Green, director of the art museum, said work from the art department, dance department and the emerging technology in business and design (ETBD) major have come through the exhibition, but Green encourages all students to visit the museum to see the accomplishments of the students, faculty and staff.
“I hope they get a sense of the creative output of Miami University,” Green said. “I hope that they’ll find some joy and opportunity for reflection in the works.”
Green hopes the exhibition will inspire current students to submit their work in the future and encourage faculty to present their work.
“We hope that through this exhibition, it will encourage support and future contribution,” Green said. “We hope to engage with many more artists and hopefully others will come back or join us for this opportunity in the future.”