Krannert exhibits promote campus unity

Final preparations are made for the Faculty Art Exhibit at the Krannert Art Museum in Champaign.This work by Conrad Bakker and the exhibit will be open to the public on Thursday, Aug. 28. Erica Magda

Final preparations are made for the Faculty Art Exhibit at the Krannert Art Museum in Champaign.This work by Conrad Bakker and the exhibit will be open to the public on Thursday, Aug. 28. Erica Magda

By Vince Dixon

There’s Quad Day, Taste of Nevada Street and the Illini Union Late Nighter, but there is also one more event new and returning students can enjoy during the first week of school. The annual School of Art and Design Faculty Art Exhibition, the oldest faculty art show in the country, opens at Krannert Art Museum on Thursday along with several new Asian art exhibits.

“It’s something we invite the whole community to,” said Nan Goggin, interim director for the School of Art and Design. “It’s about bringing the community and faculty together.”

Goggin said the participating faculty members have been working on their pieces for a long time. The pieces range from paintings, sculptures and vases to video presentations, multimedia and industrial design. Alan Mette, associate director of the School of Art and Design, said the talents are very diverse. He added that the pool of pieces even includes some faculty members’ scholarly works such as published journals and books that exhibit goers can actually pick up and read.

She said the faculty art show has been going on for more than 18 years and continues to bring in many art lovers.

This year, the faculty exhibition won’t be alone. The Krannert Art Museum enhanced its gallery of Asian art during the summer and now has more room for classic pieces that had been put into storage for years. Kathleen Harleman, director of the museum, said the renovation was a “modest” one that has now divided the gallery into separate exhibition spaces. She said the gallery is more colorful and allows the community to see art pieces that have never been showcased at the museum before.

Harleman said that 400 of the new Asian art pieces were acquired through a major gift to the museum in 2004. They include wood block printings from Japan, Asian calligraphy and paper artwork. Each exhibition allows the community to learn about the modern and historical culture of Asia.

The Sosaku Hanga wood block demonstrates an age in Japanese history when printmakers sought a more independent method of printmaking. The exhibits feature some of the post war prints and printing blocks. The Collecting East Asia exhibit includes several Chinese paintings and works of calligraphy selected by Chinese literature scholar Dr. Lee Wonsik.

One exhibit, The World of Yugen: Japanese Paper Artworks by Kyoko Ibe, will be implemented into a special performance during the exhibitions’ opening reception. The paper pieces will be used as the backdrop for ongoing dance performances by Kirstie Simson, an improv dancer and assistant professor of dance.

Harleman said Simson’s dance will complement Ibe’s paperwork.

“(Simson) will just enliven it by moving through it,” Harleman said. “I think it will excite people.”

Mette said the event is pretty popular on campus. He added that at least 800 people attended the opening reception last year. This year more than 25 faculty members will have their most modern art pieces in the show.

The opening reception begins tonight at 5 p.m. and is free.

“It’s a great opportunity for both the campus and the community to come together and celebrate the beginning of the semester,” said Harleman.

All exhibitions and details are listed on the Krannert Art Museum’s Web site calendar, www.kam.uiuc.edu.

Mette said the event will give new students the chance to experience the school’s work.

“It’s a great introduction for new students to see what we have to offer,” Mette said.