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Augustana art on the road

Teaching collection leaves campus for first time to exhibit at the Figge Art Museum

March  24, 2011

Favorites

Art history seniors and their favorites
from the Augustana Collection.

Stephanie Loria: Edgar Degas Mary Cassatt at the Louvre

Matt Bowman: Francisco Goya, The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters

Jane Wiborg: Willem De Leeuw after Pieter Paul Rubens,
Hunt of the Hippopotamus and the Crocodile

Emily Cox: Andy Warhol, Polaroid of Diane von Furstenberg, album cover of Diana Ross

Victoria Richmond:
Honore Daumier: The Scoffer

For the first time, the Augustana College Art Museum has loaned 100 paintings, prints, sculptures and other objects to the Figge Art Museum in Davenport.

Along with the art, the college is sending two other precious commodities: its senior art history students, who will act as docents, or tour guides, and faculty, who will offer weekly lectures in April.

Celebrating Ideas: Bridging Communities with Augustana's Liberal Arts Through the AGES will be on view at the Figge through May 29, 2011.

The works include ancient through contemporary, from Greek pottery to Andy Warhol. They're old friends to hundreds of Augustana alumni and students because the pieces form a teaching collection that is used for classes as diverse as art history, biology, chemistry, classics, communication studies, French, mathematics and sociology.

Most of the works on display have been written about by Augustana faculty and students in the accompanying Liberal Arts through the AGES: A Sesquicentennial Celebration catalogue. Copies will be given away free at the Figge.

The main inspiration for the exhibit was the college's sesquicentennial in 2010, said Augustana's Dr. Catherine Carter Goebel, Paul A. Anderson Chair in the Arts.

Augustana President Steve Bahls and Sean O'Harrow, former Figge director, both were enthusiastic about the exhibit, she said. They wanted to share both the collection and the book.

Art history enthusiasts

Dr. Goebel's art history students, who gathered recently to begin their senior seminar with her, have never been docents. However, they're confident, citing their classes, the many tours they have taken with Sherry Maurer, director of the Augustana Art Museum, and the hours of study they've spent with the artwork itself.

Once the exhibition was installed at the Figge, they spent hours with Dr. Goebel discussing the works.

Their enthusiasm for the collection and art history in general is obvious. But why art history?

Matt Bowman: "I didn't know what art history was until I took a class. Now I feel interested every time I come to class. It's kind of a passionate thing for me."

Victoria Richmond: "I've always liked history. Art can be like a puzzle that shows the history and connections of a society or community."

Emily Cox: "I took art history in high school with an amazing teacher. I took a class here and then realized I didn't want to study anything else."

Stephanie Loria: "My interest started with our liberal studies class. 'Harry Potter' was full, so I took an art history class. It was just so exciting. I remember everything Dr. Goebel said in that class."

Jane Wiborg: "When I got here I took an art history class on a whim. It has the "art mind" side to it, but also substance."

About the collection

The exhibition was made possible through intentional building of the Augustana College Art Collection. Originating primarily in Swedish-American art, the collection significantly expanded through the vision of alumnus donor Paul A. Anderson.

This key benefactor established a chair whose mission includes constructing an art history collection — represented by more than half of the Figge exhibition, including such notables as Rembrandt, Goya, Boudin, Degas, Cassatt, Lautrec, Matisse, Picasso and Warhol.

The Figge exhibit was co-curated by Dr. Goebel and Dr. Mary Em Kirn, professor emerita of art history.

The exhibit is partially funded by a grant from the Swedish Council of America and continued support through the Paul A. Anderson Chair in the Arts, the Department of Art History and the Augustana College Art Museum, as well as faculty, administrators, students and friends of the college.

About the book

The book and catalog, Liberal Arts through the AGES: A Sesquicentennial Celebration catalogue, has been the common text for first-year Liberal Studies classes at Augustana for the past six years. A fifth and expanded edition will be completed this summer for next year's class.

The book, conceived and edited by Dr. Goebel, contains faculty and student collaborative research and essays about the artworks. Each work exhibited at the Figge includes a descriptive text written by faculty and students from the classes of 1987-2014.

The book project has drawn international and national attention as a teaching model. Later this spring, Dr. Goebel and Augustana faculty from various disciplines will talk about their contributions to the book at a conference in New Haven, Conn., and Liberal Arts through the AGES will be featured along with first-year programs at Boston College and Yale University.

Liberal Arts through the AGES will be presented April 14-17 at a national conference, "Association for Core Texts and Courses," sponsored by Yale University and co-sponsored by Augustana and Boston colleges. Dr. Goebel and other faculty from Augustana will present at the conference, including Dr. Thomas E. Bengtson, mathematics; Dr. David M. Dehnel, political science; Dr. Dell W. Jensen, chemistry; Dr. Taddy R. Kalas, French; Dr. Emil A. Kramer, classics; and Dr. Ellen Hay, interim dean.