My Museum Experience at the 2021 Exhibitions

By Arts Management Intern Logan Bowers

After a long (and uneventful) winter break at home, I’m sure many of you were just as excited as I was to return back to campus for the spring semester. Being on campus provides so many opportunities to spend time with friends, visit your favorite Oxford hotspots, and explore something new. One great place to explore is the Miami University Art Museum! With three new exhibitions, this is the perfect socially distanced activity to begin your semester.

Over break, I had the chance to look at these exhibitions online so once I got back to campus I immediately decided to visit the Museum in person to check out the new exhibitions in person. As soon as I entered the building I was greeted by the friendly museum staff at the front desks and was on my way to see the exhibitions.

The first exhibition that I saw upon entering the museum was Sacred Songs: Antiphonals & Illuminations. Getting to experience this exhibition in person after viewing it online was so exciting because I got to take in the size and gravity of the exhibition. All of the artworks were much smaller than I had anticipated them being. I was amazed by how much detail was put into each artwork since they were so minimal in size. This exhibition really helped me gain a better appreciation for how music and books of hours have been beneficial to members of the Christian Church when studying, singing, and praying.

Here is a photo from Sacred Songs: Antiphonals and Illuminations that emphasizes the impact the size of the artworks in this exhibition had on my visit. This photo features the three artworks, Leaf from an Illuminated Book of Hours (Psalm 26), ca. 1450; Leaf from an Illuminated Manuscript (Psalm 39 from the Vulgate), 15th century; and Leaf from an Illuminated Book of Hours (Psalm 7), 1470.

After leaving the first exhibition, I proceeded through the museum to the next one, Miserere: Rouault’s Plea for Mercy. All of the artworks in this exhibition were created by Georges Rouault, a French artist. The series of artworks in this exhibition reflect Rouault’s experiences and influences from living through the first World War. The artwork presented in this exhibition includes his artworks that reflect on the impact of the war as well as his Passion of Christ series. Rouault’s dark color scheme and printmaking techniques used in these etchings help to emphasize the emotions and tone he is trying to portray through his art.

This is a picture of Georges Rouault’s work, Pl 21: Il a été Maltraité et Opprimé et Il n’a pas Ouvert la Bouche (He was Oppressed, and He was Afflicted, yet He Opened not His Mouth) – Isaiah, 53:7, 1923, printed 1948. This was one of my favorite artworks in the exhibition because Rouault’s intentional placement of shadows and the posture of Jesus really allowed me as a viewer to connect with the serious scene and the emotions of what it feels like to be human.

The final exhibition in the museum was the capstone, Confronting Greatness: A Celebration of Women Artists. Right away this exhibition caught my eye because of the variety of colors, styles, and structures set up. This exhibition was created with the help and collaboration of Sara Vance Waddell who loaned many great feminist artworks, Dr. Annie Dell’Aria who led her capstone students in developing the exhibition, MUAM Curator of Exhibitions Jason E. Shaiman, Collections Manager/Registrar Laura Stewart, and the amazing MUAM staff and Art & Architecture History Faculty. 

The first thing I noticed when entering this exhibition was the famous Guerrilla Girls poster, brandishing the quote, “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?”. The graphic then goes on to explain, “Less than 4% of the artists in the Modern Art section are women, but 76% of the nudes are female”. Seeing this poster allowed me to connect and reflect on the exhibition and truly ponder, why have and do some museums continue to be structured this way? The exhibition highlights and recognizes some incredible female artists and feminists and truly allows us to reflect on some important ideas. If you get a chance, I highly recommend stopping by to see all of MUAM’s new exhibitions for a fun and enlightening new experience!

This photograph shows Kara Walker’s artwork, African/American, 1998. The sharp contrast created by the black and white paper makes a silhouette of a woman “floating in space”. I found this work to be very powerful because Walker “reveals the power of socially constructed ideas of gender and race”.

To sign up to visit the museum in person, you can go to our website here, and book a time slot 24 hours in advance. We ask that visitors follow COVID-19 regulations such as wearing masks, social distancing, and signing up with parties smaller than 10. If you are unable to visit the museum in person, you can also view the exhibitions online. To see the online exhibitions, click on the name of the exhibition below:

Sacred Songs: Antiphonals & Illuminations

Miserere: Rouault’s Plea for Mercy

Confronting Greatness: A Celebration of Women Artists