Creative Conglomerations at the Jule

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By Consuelo Jimenez Underwood Home of the Brave, 2013 Wire, silk, fabric, safety pins, and synthetic and natural threads - 72 x 99 in. Courtesy of the artist © Consuelo Jimenez Underwood; Photograph by Michael Tropea

By Emery Lay
For the Opelika Observer

This summer, the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art is displaying two new exhibits. These include “Outside In”, which opened in January 2021, and “Crafting America”, which opened more recently on Tuesday, June 29.

Outside In is a yearlong exhibit that will be available for viewing through Jan. 9, 2022. The exhibit is an examination of various fruit and nut specimens. Outside In is a collaborative exhibit that is made up of pieces selected from the University’s artists Louise Hauss and David Brent Miller.

Together, Hauss and Miller crafted the Audubon Collection with specimens that alter with the seasons, hand-picked from Auburn’s Museum of National History. Each North American specimen is paired with an artwork representation. Their hope with this project is to contextualize the environmental elements of the Audubon’s 19th-century compositions and modern-day science.

Outside In was a perfect match for the Jule’s 21-22 season of juxtaposition. The calendar for the next year showcases a range of artists from various time periods and with a variety of voices that aligns with this theme.

“For Outside In, viewers can experience the ways in which plants and insects are displayed in works by the famed naturalist as well as researchers and scientists at Auburn,” said Charlotte Hendrix, communications and marketing specialist for the museum.

To best care for Outside In, museum professionals will cycle the artwork out three times throughout its exhibition period. This will grant the paper drawings a rest from light exposure and other elements, while giving visitors an understanding of conservation and providing them with new presentations throughout the year. For the fall, the exhibit will rotate to focus on insects.

“This presentation is a way to engage with Auburn’s collection in a new way,” Hendrix said. “You can see vivid environmental details that Audubon and his studio assistants incorporated into the artwork and study the preserved plant or insect.”

Following its debut in Betonville, Arkansas, the exhibit arrived in town on June 29, and will be available for viewing until Sept. 12. Crafting America’s journey to Auburn was sponsored by the Windgate Foundation.The exhibit, organized by the Crystal Bridges Museum, will feature over 100 works with materials such as ceramics, fiber, wood, metal and glass. From the 1940s to today, the exhibit highlights the work of acclaimed artists such as Ruth Asawa, Peter Voulkos, Jeffrey Gibson and Sonya Clark.

While most works are courtesy of Crystal Bridges, several are loans from private collections and major institutions such as The National Museum of the American Indian and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

This exhibition was made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy Demands Wisdom. Additional support came from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Crafting America works to celebrate “the skill and individuality of craft within the broad context of American art”, according to the museum’s website. Jewelry, furniture, sculptures and more will all be on display for visitors’ viewing pleasure.

An illustrated research book, published by Crystal Bridges and the University of Arkansas Press, is available in the Jule’s shop for $49.95. Art curated from regional artists is also available for purchase.

The Auburn-Opelika community is additionally invited to “Red, White, & You!,” a reception for Crafting America, on Friday, July 9, at 6 p.m. Admission is $50, which includes food and drink pairings provided by Ariccia Cucinia Italiana and the Sweet Auburn Band. Tickets can be found at www.aub.ie/celebratecraft.

Apart from its two summer exhibits, the Jule is celebrating its selection to participate in a national museum research study, otherwise known as Measurement of Museum Social Impact. More information can be found at www.ocm.auburn.edu/newsroom/news_articles/2021/06/151458-jcsm-chosen-for-research-study.php.

The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art is located at 901 S. College St. in Auburn. Regular hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with extended hours on Thursday from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m., beginning June 29. For more information, visit www.jcsm.auburn.edu.

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