Art certainly plays an irreplaceable role within the confines of Knox College, but the art exhibition in Davenport, Iowa that was held last summer confirmed that the talent of Knox artists and faculty goes beyond the roads of Galesburg. Last year, seven seniors at Knox College were selected to have their artwork displayed at the Figge Art Museum, where the pieces were displayed alongside those of students from six other colleges within the area.
Professor Gilbert, as a member of the advisory panel for local art historians, said that the director of the art show “wanted to draw local colleges together to develop educational and local programming for the museum.” While Knox students are given multiple opportunities to showcase their work in the CFA and Post art galleries, Gilbert adds, “Figge is probably the first time where Knox students were able to showcase their work at a major museum.”
From the student perspective, the opportunity to showcase a diversity of artwork was a true honor. However, the process of preparing the artwork for exhibition was a laborious process. According to Knox senior Sara Benkin, “All the pieces chosen were in open studio, a very intense environment that acts as the senior research for the art major.” Individual pieces changed over the course of open studio, as evidenced by Benkin’s experience.
“I started out as a painter,” said Benkin, “but with the feedback of my fellow students and teachers, I moved to sculpture.”
While the process of creation was somewhat stressful for student artists at Knox, the results of hours spent at open studio were impressive. Gilbert characterized the larger exhibition as “very diverse in terms of style, through representational and figurative works.” Even though the art show displayed the works of students from multiple colleges, Gilbert adds, “Knox art tended to be more abstract and diverse, both stylistically and in terms of media.” According to Benkin, “There were even a couple of jewelry pieces, prints, photo shop digital work, and other forms of abstract and representational art.”
The college art exhibition at Figge served as a “gesture to make students see a museum as a place of educational research,” says Gilbert. The closing reception of the museum, as well as the student-faculty luncheon held by Knox President Roger Taylor, reveal the extent to which Knox values its artists. Gilbert’s perspective is that “we would like art to be part of an interdisciplinary curriculum,” and as such, “we’re hoping that this exhibition opportunity will happen on an annual basis.”