Back to School in a Big Rig

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Artmobile, Collection, Education, Gallery, General, Traveling ExhibitionsLeave a Comment

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By Jessica Wright
Senior Education Specialist

Each season, the Artmobile features a themed exhibition of curated works from the Arkansas Arts Center Foundation collection. With more than 13,000 pieces in the collection, narrowing down the list to 13-15 artworks is an endeavor that involves a lot of planning, preparation and participation among multiple departments. While students rest over the summer months, we are busy taking down the previous year’s exhibition, completing any needed maintenance to the gallery and preparing an entirely new set of artworks for the upcoming school year. But who picks the works and how

Chris Cunningham, American (Austin, Texas, 1960 - ), Ol' Red, 2001, clay, metal, rubber, 3 x 6 x 12 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Purchased with Gallery Contributions, 29th Annual Toys Designed by Artists Exhibition. 2002.008.0002

From the upcoming Artmobile exhibition Visual Voyages: Chris Cunningham, American (Austin, Texas, 1960 – ), Ol’ Red, 2001, clay, metal, rubber, 3 x 6 x 12 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Purchased with Gallery Contributions, 29th Annual Toys Designed by Artists Exhibition. 2002.008.0002

It all starts with a theme. Artmobile themes are selected for their appeal among a wide audience, but are primarily chosen based on their potential for educational connections. Once a theme is selected, I review all items (yes, all 13,000+ of them!) in the collection database, making note of pieces which have the potential to illustrate the theme.

Narrowing it down. After narrowing it down to 25-30 pieces, the registrar for collections eliminates any pieces reserved for another show or those that require rest after previous exhibition. That list is then sent to the curators who visit the vaults to survey each work. The condition of an artwork must be reviewed for any show, but the Artmobile requires further considerations such as ability to withstand the rigorous demands of a year on the road.

Bringing it all together. After curator approval, the preparator drafts plans to frame and securely display artworks for travel. At this stage, I also work with the exhibition designer and marketing to develop an overall look for the exhibition as well as complementary graphics and text panels. It isn’t always easy to guide a group of 20-30 students through such a small space so we must be especially careful when placing works on the walls.

Thomas Hart Benton, American (Neosho, Missouri, 1889 - 1975, Kansas City, Missouri), Lonesome Road, 1945, lithograph, 9 5/8 x 12 1/2 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Noland Blass, Jr. 1979.075

From the upcoming Artmobile exhibition Visual Voyages: Thomas Hart Benton, American (Neosho, Missouri, 1889 – 1975, Kansas City, Missouri), Lonesome Road, 1945, lithograph, 9 5/8 x 12 1/2 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Noland Blass, Jr. 1979.075

Creating the curriculum. After finalizing the list of artworks, the Artmobile educator creates a new curriculum guide. Since the majority of the Artmobile’s destinations are schools, we strive to ensure the mobile gallery will be an extension of classroom learning. Common Core State Standards and the Arkansas Curriculum Frameworks are used to create lesson plans and activities. The curriculum encourages creative and critical thinking while inspiring personal and thoughtful art-making responses. These connections are a reminder that art is not just about drawing “pretty” pictures, but about recording and responding to the world around us and our experiences within it.

Keep on movin’. As soon as one exhibition has been installed and begins its journey across the state, we immediately begin preparations for the next show. Just as the wheels of the Artmobile keep moving—carrying a collection of artworks to all corners of the state—we continue plans for bigger and better experiences aboard our mobile gallery. We hope to see you soon!


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Visual Voyages, the 2016-2017 Artmobile exhibition, highlights various artistic methods and techniques used to reimagine landscapes, consider the effects of travel on society, and explore the fathoms of our imaginations.
VISUAL VOYAGES IS SPONSORED BY:
Bank of America 
Horace C. Cabe Foundation
Anthony Timberlands, Inc. | Deltic Timber Corporation | Entergy Arkansas, Inc. | Union Pacific Foundation
Bemis Company Foundation | Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas | Endeavor Foundation | Kum & Go | The Ross Foundation
Sheridan Garrison Foundation

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