Yesterday I embarked on a journey of sorts. Like many students on the UNH campus I often walk across campus mindlessly, blind to the art, the architecture, and the beautiful art pieces that surround me. That is why I found it imperative to join various staff members and students on the Campus Art Walk. This walk encompassed much, but not all, of the art UNH’s Durham campus has to offer: the PCAC’s Museum of Art, the Dimond library’s UNH Museum, and the new Paul College (including the courtyard) and other works in between!
Starting at the Museum of Art, curator and director of the museum, Kristina Durocher presented the photographs of Carl Austin Hyatt, a Portsmouth photographer who finds spirituality in Peruvian indigenous practices. Amazingly, Durocher pointed out, Hyatt still prints traditionally, utilizing a dark room—something that is becoming rare in our digital society. Feeling an energetic and emotionally healing connection with rocks, Hyatt photographs many archeological sites, as well as human societal life. Amazingly, this collection also displayed photographs of a similar style from the 1930’s by Martin Chambi, a native of Peru.
Moving downstairs in the museum, Durocher showed us an amazing exhibit labeled, “California Impressionism.” The history of these pieces is impressive; having come from various nineteenth and twentieth century artists, this thirty-five painting exhibition is one that travels from location to location. Although I am no true artist myself, I have to admit that the true beauty of these pieces was seen when viewed up-close—close enough to see each individual stroke of the artists’ paintbrushes. One particular painting of the ocean, La Jolla Seascape, by Alson Skinner Clark, was painted on site at the beach—it even has sand stuck in the paint to this day!
After leaving the museum we stopped outside the PCAC to view Wendy Klemperer’s “Caribou.” I am sure you have seen this on campus… I know that it scared me on my way to Philbrook for work one morning! This piece is a beautiful metal caribou that fits perfectly into its place by a birch tree. After viewing this, we moved onto the Mills Courtyard to see granite sculptures by alumnus (from the first BFA class, may I add) Gary Haven Smith. This year signifies forty years since he graduated—and what an amazing way to show how far you’ve come since, and because of, UNH!
The next stop was the Dimond Library’s UNH Museum to see the ‘Embellishments: Constructing Victorian Detail’ exhibit. I have previously covered this gallery in a blog which you can see here: http://www.unhtales.com/embellishments-constructing-victorian-detail/ Curator Dale Valena showed the group the beautiful Victorian garments while Astrida Schaeffer, who has worked on this over 600 piece collection, discussed the history of some of the dresses. It was intriguing to find out about the elements of design and how they played into social status and determined wealth. Sadly, this exhibit closed on March 22rd.
Our final stop was at the new Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics. Here we were able to see the deeply fascinating “Intricate Universe.” This work, by artist Anna Hepler, fills the air over what UNH Campus Architect Douglas Bencks hopes will be the “heart” of the new business building. Outside, in the building’s courtyard there is a labyrinth as well as three pieces by the late Michael McConnell. McConnell was an associate professor of art and art history until his death in 2012; he donated his three cor-ten steel pieces “Concord 101, Concord 102, and Concord 103” to the University, and through these he will be commemorated.
The contributions of Durocher, Valena, Bencks and others make our University a more aesthetically pleasing place to live, learn and convene. Bringing public art onto the campus creates an air of beauty beyond that natural landscape and architecture that UNH already has. Durocher plans to continue adding pieces to the campus so keep your eyes off the pavement and look around you on the way to class!