Contrasting exhibitions at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art explore migration, loss, healing and the environment


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Three new exhibitions can be seen at Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University through January 2: “Anila Quayyum Agha: The Weight of Black”, “The Joy Fields” and “Outside In”.

Related academic programs are presented throughout the fall semester, and faculty of all disciplines are also invited to plan courses or direct individual students for self-viewing.

“Our organizational theme for 2021 is the comparison,” said Cindi Malinick, museum director and chief curator. “From Roman baroque to contemporary handicrafts, visitors saw a wide range of artistic narratives and historical eras during the academic year. To conclude, we’ll focus on the fascinating work of two contemporary artists with unique narrative styles and a surprising way of interpreting Auburn’s extensive Audubon collection. “

“The Weight of Black” shows three installations in the galleries: “Itinerant Shadows”, a row of small cubes on the wall, “Shimmering Mirage”, a three-foot cube that hovers in the air, and “This is NOT a Refuge , “An illuminated two and a half meter high house. The black walls are covered with shadows, creating an immersive experience.

Agha, who will meet students on a campus visit during the Sculpture as Object course, 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 impermanence that shapes the migrant experience,” said Agha . “This awareness of knowing the noticeably different nature of human experience also harbors the gift of knowing what they have in common, and I try to embody these tensions and contradictions in my works of art.”

“For a contrast in technology and media, the work of Auburn alumna Whitney Wood Bailey floods the galleries differently – with vibrant colors and monumental proportions,” said Malinick. “Your personal story is just as compelling.”

The series “The Joy Fields” began with 24 paintings on display after the artist’s life-changing illness. Wood Bailey became intolerant of most foods, environments, and even their painting process. The lack of a cure took her to what she called a dark place.

“After many months of practicing a particular program based on neuroplasticity, one of the things I could do was go back to my studio and start working with paint,” said Wood Bailey. “A new kind of joy, regardless of the living conditions, began to invade my life and brought energy, wildness and liveliness into my work.”

The native Georgian, exhibited domestically and abroad, views the survey as her most personal and meaningful work, reflecting a journey to healing. Museum visitors will have the opportunity to experiment with organic and controlled techniques on November 14th at 1:30 pm during an artistic activity inspired by the exhibition.

The exhibition program is rounded off by the last part of “Outside In”, a cooperation with the Museum für Naturkunde. After examples of fruits, nuts and flowers, different specimens of insects are paired with Audubon etchings.

“Scholars celebrate Audubon for the artistry in depicting birds and mammals, but more environmental details are available in these prints,” Malinick said. “Lifelike insects provide 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 include collaborations to showcase this collection in other unexpected and interactive ways.

The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art is located at 901 S. College St., Auburn. The regular hours of the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art are Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with extended hours on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is free, donations are welcome.

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