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Snite Museum to debut three new exhibits in spring semester

| Wednesday, December 7, 2016

One of the advantages of having a top university museum on Notre Dame’s campus is the exposure to a wide range of artwork. Each semester, the Snite Museum of Art features new exhibitions for community members and visitors to explore.

Snite Museum public affairs representative Gina Costa said two of the three new exhibitions scheduled for the spring semester will focus on sculptures.

“We’re going to have … one that’s a ceramics show,” Costa said. “It’ll feature work by the ceramics department here at Notre Dame that were fired in an anagama kiln. … That deals with sort of contemporary issues in the discourse on ceramics. And then we’re also doing a continuum show of sculpture.”

The exhibition Costa is most excited for the Notre Dame community to see, though, is a photography exhibition from Jan. 15 to March 5.

“For the spring semester we’ve got … a photography show on pictorialism,” she said. “It’s going to be a beautiful show of images drawn from the Snite’s permanent collection. … These are just beautiful photographs that I think everyone will really enjoy [and] be moved by. I can see the campus just adoring this.”

Although the Snite Museum has a sizable collection of photographs, Costa said it is not able to display many for long periods of time, making this exhibition a fleeting opportunity for visitors to the museum.

“The Snite has an amazing photography collection,” she said. “We have over 10,000 photographs. Unfortunately … we can’t put them out all the time. Photographs are ephemeral so we can only put them out for a maximum six weeks at a time. Then they have to rest for three years. So we have all these beautiful photographs, and if we had more space we could just get more of them out.”

The Snite is able to open varying kinds of photograph exhibits regularly because of the sheer size of its photograph collection, Costa said.

“It’s a very different kind of exhibition in terms of content,” she said. “We just closed the Paulette Tavormina show that featured contemporary photographs, but based on Dutch 17th century still lives that all had layered meanings. The pictorialism show talks about a different time and place, but the images are as reflective and as indicative of time and what a photographs communicates or what seeing — what looking — means.”

In addition to this exhibition featuring pictorialism, Costa said, the subject will be the focus of one of the Third Thursday lecture events held at the Snite Museum.

“We do a lot of events to draw people to the Museum,” she said. “Our January Third Thursday [at the Snite] will feature photography curator David Acton, who will give a talk about pictorialism and all that.”

Costa said these events, as well as the artwork itself, contribute to the overall environment of one’s experience at the museum.

“A museum experience is so integral to everybody’s growth and to their educational and just emotional growth,” she said. “A museum is a place where you can go to reflect, to have quiet time, to grow yourself. Looking at art helps you think about larger issues, about yourself, about your society, about the time you live in.”

Depending on the subject, Costa said, an exhibition can also prompt discussion about and reflection on current events.

“We just closed an exhibition that dealt with social injustice,” she said. “So the larger issues and themes of the world are really addressed in a museum. … A museum is just a really special kind of institution or place in a community. And communities that don’t have public museums that are free, like ours, really are at a loss. So South Bend is really lucky; Notre Dame is really lucky.”

Costa said the Snite Museum tries to feature some of these types of exhibitions when possible.

“We do try to address current themes,” she said. “ … Artists and cultural institutions don’t live in vacuums. They’re responding to the artistic, philosophical, social, political ambiance of the time and all the issues. So we do try to be sensitive to those in our exhibition schedule.”

In the end, Costa said, the Museum’s main goal is responding to student needs on campus, prompting a study event for finals week.

“We’re doing study days … this Friday,” she said. “We’re just setting up tables with lots of coffee and cookies and food and outlets so you can find a quiet place to study amidst works of art that inspire. We really want to let the students know we think about them and really try to do outreach to them.”

Costa urged students to visit the Snite Museum for study days, in addition to coming to see the new exhibitions this spring.

“It’s your museum, so take advantage of it,” she said. “Everything we do is with the students and the Notre Dame community in mind.”

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About Courtney Becker

Courtney is a senior from New York City majoring in film, television and theater with a minor in journalism, who recently wrapped up her year as Editor-in-Chief. She is a former resident of Pasquerilla West Hall and a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

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