Dean Daniel Robison and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences sponsored a reception for “Vibrant Matter” by Julie Chang, currently on loan from the Hosfelt Gallery of the Christian Petersen Art Museum.
Chang originally planned to make an appearance at the reception and give a lecture afterwards, but had to cancel due to unforeseen circumstances. Regardless, the reception continued to welcome a variety of attendees, from college museum students and interns to senior citizens on a day trip from the Northcrest Retirement Community.
“The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences was thrilled to help sponsor this event because first of all we are hosts to one of Julie Chang and Curtis Hall’s artwork, so we see his art every day,” Robison said. “And second, because art and agriculture have a long history of being connected, and we want to inspire people to think not just about agriculture and life sciences, but about art and to the connection between the two and this is one way of doing it.”
The connection between the arts and sciences does not end with agriculture and life sciences, but can be seen across the campus and its various colleges. The many artistic works on campus speak to the internal connectivity of all that happens in the state of Iowa. President Wendy Wintersteen commented on the importance of the Iowa State public art collection.
“So the state of Iowa is really blessed that way in the 1940s, Christian Peterson was the artist-in-residence and when you walk around campus you see a lot of important pieces, like the fountain of the seasons in front of the Memorial Union,” Wintersteen said. . “There are so many wonderful items and over the years the museum has grown the collection to the point where we really stand out in the country as one of the universities with a very, very large art collection. ”
Acquiring so many works of art would be pointless without making them all accessible to the public. So, Iowa State is working hard to bring its extensive art collection to as many students, faculty, staff, and community members as possible.
“It’s used in the program with our students, it’s used to bring shared joy to individuals to see a beautiful work of art, like the one you’re looking at today. And it’s also about helping us understand the why. What is this work about, what does it tell us about identities? So it helps us to examine the critical issues of the day.
“Vibrant Matter” is not the first appearance of Chang’s work on campus, as Dean Robison pointed out. The Curtis lobby houses a large terrazzo floor at the bottom of the Chang-designed rotunda.
Before Chang could design the terrazzo floor for Curtis Hall, a committee of Iowa State faculty members drafted a statement outlining the ideas the floor would convey. Committee member Ray Klein from the Partnership Office of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences also attended the reception and discussed efforts to create cohesive artistic statements to observe on campus.
“So we had great leadership from Lynette Pohlman, who is the head of the university museums, she still coordinates these kinds of committees,” Klein said. “And then all of the selected members are kind of selected because of their relationship to the project in some way.”
The task of the committee is to delegate the statement that would be made by the artist and his work. After some deliberation, the committee arrived at the ideas that are currently on display at the bottom of Curtis Hall’s rotunda.
“And this artwork works in some ways in concert with the other artworks in the installation, which is if you enter the Harl Commons in a separate part of the building, you can see artwork in the mezzanine railing above, which shows an Iowa landscape,” Klein said. “And so our committee had to kind of figure out how the two pieces of art were valuable on their own, and then work together to create a message.”