University Museum displays Art of Africa pieces at the Edwardsville Arts Center

Art of Africa exhibit at the Edwardsville Arts Center will feature interactive activities for visitors Poster courtesy of Noelle Norris

The University Museum will exhibit Art of Africa pieces at the Edwardsville Arts Center (EAC) featuring new interactive aspects.

University Museum curators and graduate assistants Noelle Norris and Carrie Smith have taken on the yearlong task due to University Museum Director Eric Barnett’s retirement last month.

This will be the first time a University Museum exhibition has an interactive component, according to Norris.

“We have a few objects placed where people can use them. One of the objects is a traditional African game board where people can play the game. We decided to include those interactive activities to keep the students engaged,” Norris said.

Roughly 100 pieces will be in place at the EAC located at Edwardsville High School which according to Norris, Smith and she have committed much of their time to put together.

“This is a long time-consuming process that we both enjoy and find fascinating,” Norris said.

“I’ve donated a lot of my time and this is something that I love to do and I want it to be an exhibition that benefits not only SIUE but also the Edwardsville School District. I hope the students can find the exhibition useful and learn something,” Norris said.

According to Norris, Smith and she were responsible for picking the objects, researching them, writing the text panels and object tags and creating the layout and design of the show in the gallery.

Jason Bly, EAC exhibition director and SIUE art and design professor, said the connection is beneficial for both the university and the community.

“I teach drawing at SIUE and for us it’s about finding that marriage between artwork on campus and artwork that can be seen by the greater community…,” Bly said. “While a lot of students might know a lot of what happens on campus, for those who live in the area it is something they could enjoy off-campus.”

According to Pat Quinn, EAC executive gallery director, the exhibition “helps with the curriculum and teachers use what the university brings over.”

“We will typically approach language arts teachers, art and history teachers [who] used [the exhibition] for lesson plans to go with their certain department [at Edwardsville High School]. The first year an English teacher did Haiku [poems] with the Art of Asia exhibit,” Quinn said.

It is important to have the partnership with SIUE for the show as it is a good learning tool for the community, according to Quinn.

“It’s phenomenal that we can have the artifacts over here and that SIUE is willing to do that with us. It’s incredible– we get little kids over here, boy scouts and girl scouts here and coffee talks among adults at the gallery,” Quinn said.

Smith said she hopes viewers will “gain an understanding of how the western culture influenced changes in the traditional arts of Africa.”

The Art of Africa exhibition will be at the Edwardsville Arts Center, 6165 Center Grove Road on the Edwardsville High School campus, from March 7 – April 11. The opening reception takes place March 7 from 6 – 8 p.m.

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