Advanced art history students in assistant professor Emily Burns’ classes will get a hands-on look at the world of art curation and have a unique experience for their portfolios using the collections of Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University. The students will research, curate and present on a two-part exhibition in the Chi Omega-Hargis Gallery during the spring 2018 semester.
Below is a Collection Spotlight from the first exhibition, “Strokes of Nature: Plein Air Painting in the 19th Century.”
In an extant letter related to this painting, Joshua Shaw states that this scene “has nothing in it historically interesting… and I sketched it entirely for its wild and picturesque appearance.” Not searching for a specific historical landmark, Shaw stumbled upon this small creek bank on his journey throughout the wilderness of North Carolina. Shaw’s choice signals a growing interest in the early nineteenth century in representing quotidian landscape. The artist’s eclectic style challenges the viewer to understand whether Shaw painted this scene outdoors or by memory. By eliminating brushstrokes and smoothing the surface, he reduces a sense of time. Yet the glistening of the water crests, the wispy clouds, and the sketchy nature of the leaves draw the viewer into a serene experience of the momentary.
Stoney Creek, North Carolina, No. 3, n.d.
Oil on paper laid down on panel
Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University; Gift of Jane and Mike McLain