LaGrange College students curate art exhibit

Published 6:22 pm Tuesday, March 26, 2019

On Friday night, the Cochran Gallery held an opening for “Transcendence: Sculptors Making Prints,” featuring works by artists who stepped outside of their usual mediums and was curated by six LaGrange College students.

The special two-week exhibit took advantage of Wes and Missy Cochran’s varied collection, while providing museum studies students interested in curation with the opportunity to put together a real exhibit.

“[Wes Cochran] said he had this idea of showing from his collection prints made by artists who are normally more famous for their sculptures,” said Dr. Dorothy Joiner, professor of art and design at LaGrange College. “At the beginning of the year we came over, and Wes had this long list of works in his collection of prints made by sculptors. So, my students researched them, and they wrote a little blurb about each one.”

The students started researching the artists in September, and while they said they received some guidance from Cochran, he said he was pleased with the final exhibit that they created.

“They did a fantastic job,” Cochran said. “We showed them what we had to make the show happen, and they picked them out.”

The students said that they were excited to have had the opportunity to curate the exhibit.

“It was really an honor,” said Celeste Crowe, one of the students who helped curate the show. “A lot of people don’t realize what we have here by having Wes and Missy [Cochran], and it was really gracious of them to be willing to work with our class and give us some first-hand experience on how galleries work, how curating an exhibition works and to give us access to their collection to pick and choose from.”

Crowe said that she hopes to work as a curator or registrar after she graduates this spring, and other students noted that the experience of creating a real show will help them after graduation.

“This is what I want to do,” said Brittany Corley, a junior who helped curate the show. “I want to curate, so putting it together was like, ‘Oh my, I’m actually curating something. This is amazing.’ It was a great feeling.”

Joiner said that experience with a real gallery and real art was one of the most important parts of the exhibit for students.

“It is an actual experience with real art, and a few of them are really interested in museum curatorial work, so it is really wonderful that they get to do the real thing rather than just read about it or talk about it,” Joiner said. “We are very grateful to Wes for letting us do this.”

The Cochran collection also presented the benefit of encouraging students to research artists that they had not previously encountered.

“It was interesting to see the varied background of all the artists,” Crowe said. “I really enjoyed that and learning more about modern art. Especially with Wes’ collection focusing so specifically with African American artists — that is not something that is highlighted much in western art — so I really enjoyed that opportunity to research into that particular part of this exhibition and his collection. There is a lot of interesting things about each artist and why they make art, what they are trying to say through their art.”

“Transcendence: Sculptors Making Prints” will be on display at the Cochran Gallery through March 29. The Cochran Gallery is located at 4 East Lafayette Square and is open Wednesday through Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.