Mulvane Builds Momentum Over Summer

Brick by Brick Nathan Sawaya talks to the media about his work

Tricia Peterson / Washburn Review

Washburn is great anyway but because we have had our own art museum since 1922 that makes going here even better. Mulvane Art Museum is located on campus at 1700 S.W. College Avenue.

Not only is it full of regional and local art, it is fully accredited so many well known exhibits are on display here throughout the year.

Michael Hager, current exhibit preparator as well as professor in sculpture and print-making here at Washburn, encourages students to come and see the exhibits, as well as use the art museum as a research source. Hager also said students can volunteer to help in the Art Lab, or sign up for work-study.

“The Mulvane Art Museum is a fantastic resource of arts for Washburn’s community, Topeka’s community, and the Midwestern Region,” said Hager.  ” We have a collection that is close to 4,000 pieces of art…it is quite an eclectic collection.”

The permanent collection consists of various types of art, from print images to objects, from all over the world and from different time periods.  Included in the collection are Japanese prints and tsubas which are Japanese sword guards that Samurais used.  Other arts from old masters, such as a Rembrandt painting, and artwork from the Works Projects Administration (WPA) during the Depression when the government paid artists to make art, to try and help boost the economy, are also included in the permanent collection.

Mulvane Art Museum also features various exhibitions from local artists, as well as artists from around the world. From June 18 until September 18 the show “Art of the Brick” will be in the upstairs gallery, an exhibition featuring 28 sculptures created out of LEGOs, by New York based artist Nathan Sawaya.  This will be on display through the end of the summer and into the beginning of the 2011 Fall Semester and students are highly encouraged to check it out.

Also available for viewing at the beginning of this semester is a display of woven vessels and collages by Oregon native Shannon Weber, named “Things Got Out of Hand: Chapters 1 & 2”, on the main level. This exhibit is composed of a mixture of found objects, beaver chewed sticks, domestic cast offs, reclaimed metal, sea kelp, rattan, canvas, wax linen, sea grass and grass roots, encaustic, acrylics, and overdyes.  It will be on display until September 18.

Washburn Alumni, and work study student Michael Allen encourages students to stop by and see the exhibits, especially because it is free to everybody.  Allen said during his years as an art major there were many times he had hours free in between class, and that coming to the museum is a good way to pass some time.

“It’s always here for you to come and look around,” Allen explained. “…in between classes, after lunch that sort of thing.”

Visiting the museum is a good way to pass the time, but Allen also explained that sometimes the exhibits inspire him in his own artwork.  “Culturally for me, I use it as a source of inspiration,” said Allen. “Almost every exhibit that goes up gives me that “OH” feeling.”

In addition to being able to view artwork from local and regional artists, you might someday be able to display your artwork in Mulvane Art Museum.  During the Spring semester here at Washburn, there is an opportunity for students pursuing a Bachelors in Fine Arts degree to submit their art for a juried art show.  The art is judged by non-biased judges from various locations, and they will pick who gets into the show. This helps art students get used to what it is like in the real world. If you aren’t a art major, you can always come and check out what your fellow Washburn students have been working on.

“Artists have to do this,” said Hager. “If they want to do anything in academia or get into a show, or gallery, they have to do this. We are starting [the students] early.”

Mulvane Art Museum also has an Art Lab downstairs.  The Art Lab is open to the public as well, and is also free. Local schools, girl and boy scout troops, and even 4H groups come to the Art Lab for fun filled days of art and learning.   They offer various resources such as their library which is open to the public and contains books, videos, lesson plans and periodicals all available to you.  They even offer art treasure chests which you can check out and take home to use and learn the Elements of Art : Line, Shape, Texture, Color, Space and Value.

All this and more is available at the Mulvane Art Museum, all you have to do is go check it out.  The hours vary throughout the week and they are closed on Mondays, Tuesdays 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Wednesday through Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and on weekends from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m.