When curating art from UND's permanent collections for this exhibition, we were asked to consider the themes of "space" and "prairie". We chose pieces that fit the theme by categorizing and ranking the art in terms of how “space” or how “prairie” we believed the art piece to be. As we began looking through the art repository, we quickly realized we needed to think more outside the box and began choosing abstract pieces. During our art selection process, we first chose art that can be considered typical prairie. We then chose a few pieces we deemed as a mixture of both space and prairie which allows the audience to connect the two concepts in a way they may never have thought of before. Finally, we chose art that was easily identifiable as space as well as art that was very abstract which lets each viewer decide how the pieces fit into the theme of space and into the art exhibit overall.
There are a few pieces from the UND permanent art collections that set the tone for the rest of the art pieces. The Curtain of Rain II by Carl Homstad presented the typical prairie while also portraying a gloomy and mysterious sky. This piece was very important to perceive the Earth as known and space as unknown and eerie. The Grain Drain by Jackie McElroy had the same effect but in reverse. The prairie is being sucked down into the drain into the unknown. The pastel color pallet was important to have a softer view for the viewers. The Spawning by Jackie McElroy was a great bridge between the prairie and space themes by highlighting them equally. Lastly, the Sunset Drain by Jackie McElroy gave the collection a vibrant transition into the more typical “space” curated art and once again, acted as a bridge between the two very prominent themes.
Overall, our goal was to create a space that inspires visitors to use their imagination to create exciting stories. For the prairie component of our project, we chose prairie landscapes that most visitors will recognize and relate to. This creates a sense of comfort and familiarity. The opposite is true for the space component of our project. The feeling of space is so overwhelming, and we needed the gallery to reflect that feeling. This led to us deciding to display the art in a salon style. With the salon style, we put together massive amounts of art to create a very chaotic and overwhelming effect that reflects our idea of the feeling of space. We bridge the gap between the familiarity of the prairie and the strangeness of space with pieces that depict normal prairie landscapes but have surreal aspects like floating elevators and unusual colors. Finally, through the incorporation of pieces with vibrant colors and abstract, space-like themes, we created a dynamic space that pulls the visitors from the comfort of the prairie into the unknown depths of space.
Logan Hanson, Alexis Heinle, Mason Hornberger, Rheyenne Vermette
Introduction to Fine Arts Honors Course, Fall 2023