A Rare Artistic Treat

From Artist to Audience

Photo by Carl Socolow '77.

Art history majors present exceptional exhibition of 15th- through 18th-century works

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

Museum-goers are in for a treat, as senior art history majors present an exhibition of works rarely seen outside of the largest and most prestigious museums and galleries. Their senior exhibition, From Artist to Audience: Italian Drawings and Prints from the 15th Through 18th Centuries, draws from a variety of subjects, artists and media to present an arresting collection of works, many never before published or exhibited.

"This is by far the most important senior art history exhibition I've worked on in my 25 years at the college—the collection of works we have and about which the students have written are unheard of for undergraduates to be able to work with firsthand," says Professor of Art History Melinda Schlitt, who leads this year’s seminar.

The exhibition is the crowning achievement of art history majors at Dickinson. Class of 2016 members Clara Madeline Fritz, Paris Humphrey, Samantha Mendoza-Ferguson, Sara Pattiz, Rebecca Race, Isabel Richards and Samuel Richards have curated the show from start to finish—from selecting a theme, researching and culling works and writing and collaborating on the design of the catalogue, to laying out and hanging the exhibition, from wall color and wall text to wall organization and traffic flow.

It’s a unique opportunity for art history majors at the undergraduate level, and while it is always a challenge, this year’s group faced a particularly demanding task. Students worked with artists, subjects and media that were new to them, as the drawings and prints in the exhibition include figure studies, preparatory drawings, landscapes, allegories, biblical narratives, visualizations of ancient Roman poetry and more, and they represent virtually every medium in drawing and printmaking, from pen and ink, wash, gouache, black chalk, red chalk, graphite, woodcut, multiple woodblock, engraving, etching and drypoint. The works also are rare and fragile, requiring the students to follow strict requirements while handling and installing.

Pattiz researched Head of the Madonna by Antonio Domenico Gabbiani, Standing Shepherd and Adoration of the Shepherds by Parmigianino and Portrait of a figure in profile wearing an exotic hat by Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione and became an expert on the works in the process. That experience will serve her well in any research-driven field and especially in a curatorial career.

“Also, understanding the process of creating an exhibition will help me in any museum-based career I may go into,” she adds.

From Artist to Audience will be shown in The Trout Gallery through April 16 (gallery hours: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.). The student curators were on hand to discuss the exhibition during an opening reception on Friday, March 4, 5-7 p.m.

View photos from the opening reception 

From Artist to Audience

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Published March 4, 2016