Living Art Museum

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Living Art Museum

Whether taking a casual stroll across campus, or just walking to class, encountering works of art is a unique part of the UND experience. Too often, those encounters go unnoticed. With places to be, tests to take, it’s not always easy to stop and contemplate the role of art in the world around us.

The status of these works on campus has been in flux for some time. It may surprise some to know that while the University, and the University Foundation, own thousands of pieces of artwork, from generations of artists, there has never been a single, comprehensive effort to list of all the artwork at UND. Pieces have been loaned from one place to another, and over time, some have been mishandled or even lost.

According to Brian Fricke, who currently serves as UND Art Collections Manager and Preparitor, building a gallery for this work is essential for bringing the experience of art to every student. “There isn’t an art gallery dedicated for the University’s art collection,” says Fricke. “Our goal is to start using the campus itself as an exhibition space.”

The project, known as the Living Art Museum across the campus, is the mission of UND Art Collections, led by Art Jones, who serves as director, along with Fricke. In addition, there is one part-time staff member, several volunteers and a few graduate research assistants that will assist in the process over the next several years. The goal is to have all the pieces in UND’s collection catalogued and prepared for display around campus on a rotating basis.

“[Art] becomes ‘living’ when it’s out where people can view it, when it’s not stored in a closet,” says Fricke. “It’s out where people get to view it, look at it, research it, and use it in their contemporary research, or just for enjoyment.”

But not just any space will do.

According to Fricke, in developing these spaces many factors are taken into consideration, including accessibility and safety— both from vandals and the elements. In addition, some thought is given to how pieces are presented and with which department or unit they naturally fit.

How a work is displayed is a subjective process, but it should be more structured than it was previously. “In the past, there used to be a loan system through the Art Department where individuals could check out art work,” says Fricke. “Now the idea is not to do a check out system so someone can have something for their office, but to exhibit art in a public place and make sure the artwork that goes there is protected.”

Part of the effort with the Living Art Museum will be to not just hang interesting pieces of art on the walls, but to try and find compelling works to match the areas in which they’re placed. The hope is that the works of art on display will resonate with students if they relate to a department or unit. In this way, students might discover art that reflects their own interests and experiences, giving the works more meaning for them, and elevating the role art can play in their lives.

Craig A. Garaas-Johnson, News & Features Editor

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