Islamic Art Loan Immerses Students in Object-Based Learning

Professor of Art Kathleen Nolan’s Islamic Art class is engaging in hands-on research with rare artifacts from the Near East, thanks to a loan of decorative objects from a West Virginia museum to Hollins University’s Eleanor D. Wilson Museum.

The Wilson Museum borrowed objects from the Huntington Museum of Art’s extensive collection of Near Eastern art, including rugs, pouring vessels, a traveling scribe set, a dish, a manuscript page firman, and bath sandals that date as far back as the 11th and 12th centuries and originated in Iran, Syria, and Turkey.

Islamic Art Class 1

“I am a big advocate of object-based learning and wanted Hollins students to have the opportunity to work with objects from the Near East. But, we didn’t have any in our permanent collection,” explains Jenine Culligan, curator and director of the Wilson Museum. Prior to coming to Hollins, Culligan was chief curator for 15 years at the Huntington Museum of Art and in 2010 was instrumental in working with Joseph and Omayma Touma on cataloging 400 Near Eastern objects they had donated to the museum. Culligan made arrangements to borrow eight of the objects through mid-December.

“When I found out that Professor Nolan was teaching an Islamic Art class,” she continues, “I broached the idea of allowing the students in the class to do research on these objects.”

NoIslamic Art Class 2lan praises Culligan for her efforts to make the objects available to her class. “The students and I are thrilled to have these. There was great excitement in the vault of the Wilson Museum when we got to experience these objects first-hand.”

Soon after coordinating the research initiative with Nolan, Culligan was approached by Professor of Political Science Ed Lynch about displaying the objects as part of the Appalachia Model Arab League Conference that Hollins is hosting November 10 -12. They will be on view during the conference in the Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center along with additional Near Eastern objects on loan from the Roanoke community.

“These collaborations between the Wilson Museum and the art history department and the museum and the political science department seemed meant to be,” Culligan says.

 

Photos: Led by Wilson Museum Curator and Director Jenine Culligan, students from Professor Kathleen Nolan’s Islamic Art class investigate some of the Near Eastern objects on loan to the museum.

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Wilson Museum Exhibition Is “Drawn from the Vault”

The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University is featuring a disparate selection of drawings from its permanent collection as part of the exhibition Drawn from the Vault, which is on display September 28 – December 10.

On paper and in a variety of media, many of these artworks date from the second half of the 20th century and have never been exhibited. “Several of these drawings have Hollins connections, created by students during their classes, former faculty such as John Ballator and Louis Thompson, or alumnae who became career artists, including Susan Cofer and Mary Page Evans,” says Wilson Museum Curator and Director Jenine Culligan. Other works in the exhibition, she adds, were collected and donated by alumnae and other generous donors, or come from artists who became part of region’s artistic legacy.

“This exhibition presents just a small sampling of the riches in the museum’s vault,” Culligan notes.

Drawn from the Vault will be on view in the Wilson Museum’s Ballator-Thompson Gallery. Culligan is conducting lunchtime tours of the exhibition on October 3, November 7, and December 5.

Admission to the Wilson Museum is always free and open to the public. Hours are Tuesday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., and Thursdays, noon to 8 p.m.

 

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Wilson Museum Presents “Drawings from ‘The Whale'”

The debut picture book by husband-and-wife artistic team Ethan and Vita Murrow is the focus of a new exhibition at the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum.

“Drawings from The Whale,” which is on display July 20 – October 8 in the museum’s Main Gallery, features 28 original graphic drawings that convey the drama and haunting beauty of the ocean, and capture the majesty of the awe-inspiring whale. The exhibition includes a children’s reading nook and a family scavenger hunt activity.

The Murrows have collaborated on a variety of artistic projects including writing, video, film, drawing, and photography. “They approached this book as if it was a film project, set up like a storyboard paying homage to the films of Jacques Cousteau, film noir, and adaptations of Agatha Christie’s work,” explained Wilson Museum Director Jenine Culligan. “Their process included constructing props, organizing a wardrobe, and hiring two young actors and professional photographers to act out and capture the narrative.”

The Murrows share and divide duties much like a film production, working as a team to write and plan. Vita acts as producer and director; Ethan builds the drawings in conversation with Vita.

“Drawings from The Whale” is sponsored in part by the City of Roanoke through the Roanoke Arts Commission with additional funds provided through Hollins’ M.F.A. program in children’s book writing and illustrating. An opening lecture, book signing, and opening reception will be held on Thursday, July 20, at 7:30 p.m. in the Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center’s Niederer Auditorium.

Admission to the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University is always free and open to the public.

 


Alumna, Renowned Portrait Artist Is Featured in “Covert Autobiography”

The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University is featuring a solo exhibition of recent work by a member of the class of 1967 who is also an internationally recognized portrait painter and photographer.

Annette Polan: Covert Autobiography is on display in the Wilson and Ballator-Thompson Galleries through Sunday, September 17.

The exhibition features an unusual combination of media including sculpture, painting, drawing, mixed media, and videos.  It “incorporates images of nature to explore issues of gender and age in our culture as well as in [Polan’s] own life. It investigates aspects of a single, mature woman who although powerful and confident, can feel disenfranchised, invisible, or muffled.”

Polan studied at the Tyler School of Art, Corcoran College of Art and Design, and École du Louvre. A noted instructor of contemporary American portraiture, she painted the official portraits of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, former West Virginia Governor Gaston Caperton, and other leaders of government and industry.

Polan chaired and founded Faces of the Fallen, an exhibition of 1,323 portraits by 230 American artists that honored American service members who died in Afghanistan and Iraq between October 10, 2001, and November 11, 2004. In recognition of her leadership on that project, she was awarded the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Outstanding Public Service Award.

The Wilson Museum is open Tuesday – Sunday, noon – 5 p.m., and Thursday, noon – 8 p.m. Admission is always free.


Wilson Museum Presents Senior Majors Exhibition

The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University is highlighting the work of seven studio art majors from the class of 2017 during the Senior Majors Exhibition, May 9 – May 21.

The exhibition is the final requirement for art students earning their bachelor’s degree and is the capstone experience of a yearlong senior project.

Studio art majors featured in the show include Natalie Marie Badawy, Suprima Bhele, Laura Carden, Samantha Dozal, Madi Hurley, Erin M. Leslie, and Maggie Perrin-Key. The exhibition will be on display in the Ballator-Thompson and Wilson Galleries.

The Wilson Museum will host an opening reception for the 2017 Senior Majors Exhibition on Tuesday, May 9, from 6 – 8 p.m. in the first floor lobby of the Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center.

The Wilson Museum is open Tuesday – Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., and Thursdays, noon to 8 p.m.. Admission is always free.


Wilson Museum Shares Works from the Largest Gift in its History

Last May, the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University received the largest gift in its history, a collection of 385 preliminary paintings, drawings, and prints by one of France’s noted modernists, Jean Hélion.

Beginning February 2, the Wilson Museum will display 40 of these works, most of which have never been previously shown to the public, in an exhibition called Hélion Highlights: Selections from the Blair Family Gift.

Hélion is best known in France for experimenting with the various looks of early modernism, and his early work has long been sought after and collected by museums and private collectors around the world. Now, his figurative work from the middle to the late 20th century, unorthodox at the time it was created, is being reexamined. Several recent international exhibits in Paris and New York have created new interest in the artist.

Hélion mostly worked in series, visually exploring and observing every detail that went into a finished painting. Everyday scenes featuring food items, the female figure, shop windows, flea markets, people under umbrellas, and people reading newspapers were common subjects.

“The drawings in our exhibition range from simple but expressive lines to detailed drawings in graphite, charcoal, colored pencil, or pastel, and heightened with watercolors,” said Jenine Culligan, director of the Wilson Museum. “They render almost every detail found in the finished work. The viewer can almost see in these works the inner functions of Hélion’s mind searching for the ideal composition, color, and expression.”

Culligan added, “This collection makes Hollins University a major repository for Hélion studies.”

Hélion was born in France in 1904. He married an American from Virginia and lived off and on in the commonwealth from 1936 to 1940. He returned in 1942 during World War II to work in New York City after escaping from a German prison ship. He left the United States in 1946 and spent the rest of his life in France. He died in 1987.

Hélion Highlights: Selections from the Blair Family Gift will be on view in the Wilson gallery of the museum through Sunday, March 26.

The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University is open Tuesday – Sunday from noon – 5 p.m., and Thursdays from noon – 8 p.m. Admission is always free.


Wilson Museum Presents “Views of Tinker Mountain by Ron Boehmer”

In celebration of Hollins University’s 175th anniversary, the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum is featuring Views of Tinker Mountain by Ron Boehmer in the Ballator-Thompson Gallery, January 12 through April 30.

The exhibition showcases 14 studies of Boehmer’s oil painting, Tinker Creek, which has been on view in Hollins’ Main Building since 1991. Boehmer donated 12 of the studies to Hollins; they are now part of the Wilson Museum’s permanent collection and are being displayed for the first time alongside the finished painting. Two additional studies of Tinker Creek were recently donated to the museum by Hollins Professor Emeritus of Art Bill White.

Boehmer is recognized as one of Virginia’s foremost landscape painters. He has exhibited in more than 130 solo, group, and juried exhibitions and festivals, and is currently represented by the following galleries: Nichols Gallery, Barboursville, Virginia; Page Bond Gallery, Richmond, Virginia; Carspecken-Scott Gallery, Wilmington, Delaware; and Lin-Dor Gallery, Roanoke. He has been featured in PleinAir Magazine, Lynchburg Magazine, and the books 100 Plein Air Painters of the Mid-Atlantic by Gary Pendleton and The Virginia Landscape: A Cultural History by James C. Kelly and William Rasmussen.

A lecture by the artist will be presented on Sunday, February 5, at 3 p.m. in Niederer Auditorium, Wetherill Visual Arts Center. A reception will follow.

Located in the Wetherill Visual Arts Center, the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University is open Tuesday – Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., and Thursday, noon to 8 p.m. Admission is always free.


Wilson Museum Expands Hours

The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University is adding new open gallery hours to better serve the Hollins campus and the Roanoke community.

Beginning September 1, the museum will be open to the public from noon until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, with extended evening hours every Thursday until 8 p.m.

“Establishing evening hours once a week means that we will be open beyond the average student class schedule, and thus more students will be able to take advantage of exhibitions and curriculum connections,” explained Wilson Museum Director Jenine Culligan. She noted that evening hours will incorporate additional educational programming and activities for students as well as the community.

“Sunday gallery hours will appeal to both students and public viewers and create more accessibility for off-campus patrons,” Culligan added.

The museum will remain closed on Mondays and university breaks.

The Wilson Museum features the work of renowned, emerging, and regional artists. It presents exhibitions in a wide variety of media and genres, including selected exhibitions from the permanent collection. Through this programming, the museum provides a forum for art through viewing, dialogue, and an understanding of the creative process. Located on the first floor of the Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center, the museum is a state-of-the-art, climate-controlled facility with three interconnected galleries totaling approximately 4,000 square feet of exhibition space.

 


Robert Kushner Exhibition Highlights Summer at the Wilson Museum

This summer, Hollins University’s Eleanor D. Wilson Museum is featuring the work of one of the founders of the pattern and decoration movement in painting.

Robert Kushner: Pleasure and Solace will be on display through September 12.

Kushner combines organic elements with abstracted geometric forms to create works that celebrate surface. He draws from a broad spectrum of artistic and historical movements: fabric design, fashion, and couture; oriental rugs, kimono patterns, and Japanese screen painting; Renaissance masques, symbolist music, and opera. While Western artists throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries found inspiration in Islamic and Far Eastern cultures, Kushner rejected the concepts of “exoticism” and “primitivism” often cited in contrast with European styles. Instead, he responded to the long-standing sophistication of Eastern knowledge, innovation, and spirituality.

The paintings on display in this exhibition span nearly a decade of work: Huntington Library Cactus Garden II, 2014; Chrysanthemum and Sunflower, 2010; and Spring Scatter Summation, 2005. A painting by Kushner in the Wilson Museum’s collection, also titled Sunflower, dates to the early 1990s and is on display in the Resource Room alongside five additional works on paper. Representations of flowers have long been of interest to the artist; his work segues effortlessly from glittery, overblown blooms on canvas to modest depictions on antique book pages. Kushner has said, “I never get tired of pursuing new ideas in the realm of ornamentation… Decoration has always had its own agenda, the sincere and unabashed offering of pleasure and solace.”

A native of Pasadena, California, Kushner currently lives and works in New York City. His work has been exhibited extensively in the United States, Europe, and Japan. Solo exhibitions have been presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Brooklyn Museum. Kushner’s work can also be found in the public collections of The Museum of Modern Art, NY; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; The Philadelphia Museum of Art; The National Gallery of Art, DC; The Corcoran Gallery of Art, DC; J. Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Denver Art Museum; Tate Gallery, London; The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu; Galleria degli Ufizzi, Florence; and Museum Ludwig, St. Petersburg. Publications on Kushner’s work include the monograph Gardens of Earthly Delight (Hudson Hills Press, 1997) and Wild Gardens (Pomegranate, 2006).

Works featured in Robert Kushner: Pleasure and Solace are on loan from New York’s DC Moore Gallery. The exhibition is organized by the Wilson Museum.

The Wilson Museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., on Saturday from 1 – 5 p.m., and is closed during university breaks.  For more information, visit www.hollins.edu/museum or the museum’s Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/EleanorDWilsonMuseum.


Eleanor D. Wilson Museum Welcomes New Director

The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University has named Jenine Culligan, senior curator at the Huntington Museum of Art in Huntington, West Virginia, as its new director. She begins her duties May 4.

Culligan has been with the Huntington Museum of Art since 1999, and oversees daily operations for a collection of over 15,000 objects as well as four permanent and six rotating galleries. She works directly with collectors, individual artists, artist groups, interns, volunteers, art gallery directors, donors, advisory and board committees, and colleagues across the United States.

“I enjoy being the catalyst that brings talented people and innovative programs together,” she said. “I would like to share my experiences, and knowledge of museums, art, and artists, with a new generation, and with their help, explore new and different modes of offering authentic, cross-disciplinary approaches to experiencing art.

“I welcome the opportunity to collaborate with a community of educators to bring high-quality exhibits, programs, and events to Hollins, which would attract and engage a diverse audience within the university, the Roanoke community, western Virginia, and beyond.”

Culligan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in art history from the University of Kentucky and a Master of Arts degree in art history/museum studies from Case Western Reserve University. Prior joining the Huntington Museum of Art, she worked with the Delaware Art Museum and the University of Kentucky Art Museum.

The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University features the work of renowned, emerging, and regional artists. The museum presents exhibitions in a wide variety of media and genres, including selected exhibitions from the permanent collection. Through this programming, the museum provides a forum for art through viewing, dialogue, and an understanding of the creative process. Located on the first floor of the Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center, the museum is a state-of-the-art facility with three interconnected galleries totaling approximately 4,000 square feet of exhibition space.

The Wilson Museum is committed to educational programming that enriches both Hollins and the greater Roanoke community. Since opening in the fall of 2004, the museum has presented more than 100 exhibitions with supplementary programs including tours, lectures, workshops, gallery talks, and classroom instruction.