The Hollensteiner Gallery at the Wright Museum of Art is one of those things that makes Beloit what it is. Much like the stage at the Neese Theatre, the gallery provides both a space for academic study and a venue for personal enrichment. The visitor to the gallery can appreciate the visual inquiry conducted by the great master painters and printmakers, marvel at the craftsmanship of a 19th-century mahogany statue, or attempt to figure out why the Santa Claus look-alike is sticking his tongue out at you.
A key component of a liberal arts education lies in the ability to recognize or create associations between subjects, disciplines, and concepts. The well-trained liberal arts student can broaden this ability to include events and objects. As a teaching museum, the Wright utilizes the main gallery as an extension of the classroom experience by providing primary source material in the form of objects, and context through curating.
By grouping objects through themes, genres, or simply by the record of history the curator delimits the visitor, creating a lens through which those objects must be viewed. It is a prompt, or more precisely, a challenge to the visitor to accept the presentation, and to create connections between these objects and their own understanding of the world. There is no right answer, and it’s never simple—but as the liberal arts student will tell you, the most important questions cannot be answered; only explored.
This week is the last opportunity to explore the reinstalled Hollensteiner Gallery for the spring semester. Have you seen the Rembrandt? Did you notice how Americans depicted the human form in the 1940s? Can you trace the influence of impressionism through the turn of the 20th century, and see how it waxes and wanes? What happened to the Japanese culture between 1920 and 2000 that created such a conceptual difference in how they made art? And why is that turkey so fat?