Students in courses, Sculpture as Space and Themes in Contemporary Sculpture at Auburn University, led by Associate Professor Kristen Tordella-Williams, researched and proposed contemporary monuments in response to the exhibition Monuments and Myths: The America of Sculptors Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Daniel Chester French. The students researched, proposed, and built maquettes of future monuments that fill in historical gaps and celebrate marginalized communities and spaces.
For the Spring 2023 semester, Auburn University students across four disciplines worked with The Jule to explore themes related to the exhibition Monuments and Myths: The America of Sculptors Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Daniel Chester French. Throughout the semester, students visited the museum, discussed the exhibition alongside contemporary conversations around monuments, and engaged with curators from Chesterwood and Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park, the historic homes, and studios of French and Saint-Gaudens.
Below are essays from students in one of the courses under the direction of associate professor Elijah Gaddis, Department of History, College of Liberal Arts.
Alabama’s monuments offer ways to remember and pasts to forget. Their origin stories are complex tales of local negotiation, regional trends, and shared national values. But their messages aspire to simplicity. These essays, from the course, Museum Practicum, taught by Associate Professor Elijah Gaddis, are about Alabama monuments and the histories they reveal and conceal. As a compilation, they serve as a selective primer to accompany the Monuments and Myths: The America of Sculptors Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Daniel Chester French exhibition that will help you explore Alabama’s memorial landscape with new eyes and questions.
—Museum Studies Practicum Students
Dr. Elijah Gaddis
Conversation about the project “Indecent Spaces” with Jonah Bokaer, Hala Shah, and Isaiah João at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University.
“Indecent Spaces” is a project from the creative teams of Jonah Bokaer Choreography, Partner–In–Charge Charles Renfro of Diller, Scofidio + Renfro – DS+R, and Isang Yun, interpreted by violinists Angela & Jennifer Chun.
Born in part of the COVID–19 pandemic, Indecent Spaces is a multi–channel performance art and media piece exploring connections between a location’s meaning, citizenship and identity in the evolving 21st–century American landscape. Though today’s climate may seem to some removed from patriotic origins and idyllic intent, the collaborators’ examination reveals forgotten voices and bodily impact ever present through our nation’s history — aspirations of a more perfect union, albeit a complex one
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Gamaliel Rodríguez talks about his artwork installed as part of the opening of Auburn’s Research and Innovation Campus in Huntsville, Alabama. Opened in October, 2022, the facility features a temporary installation of objects from the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University. Gamaliel Rodríguez, a U.S. Army veteran who uses felt and ballpoint pens to create photorealistic aerial views of industrial, military and civilian structures, is the first commissioned artist in this cross-campus partnership between the museum and Auburn’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.
Rick Barot, poet and Professor of English at Pacific Lutheran University, talks about creative writing, poetry, and ways of reading works of art at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University.
View the painting “Las Meninas” by Diego Velázquez:
View work by RaMell Ross:
Khalil Kinsey talks about the Kinsey African American Art and History Collection, on view at the Jule Collins Smith Museum at Auburn University from August 23 through December 30, 2022:
Imani Poole talks about her work as a student in Sneakerheads, a Spring 2022 class at Auburn University, with Charlie Lesh, Associate Professor of English at Auburn. Students in the Sneakerheads course visited the museum to consider sneaker objects made by artist Andy Yoder for his exhibition Overboard.
Anila Quayyum Agha talks with Kristen Tordella-Williams about her exhibition “The Weight of Black” (October 8, 2021 – January 2, 2022) at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University.
How are museums part of cross-disciplinary teaching and learning on campus?
Mimi Hellman, Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Art History at Skidmore College, discusses strategies that have been successful at the Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College with Chris Molinski, Director of Education, Engagement and Learning at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University.