Totality exhibition drew thousands

Fairbanks Hall was a-buzz with activity this weekend. 

The weekend before the August 21 eclipse, our usually-sleepy summer campus was bustling with life.  And that Fairbanks Hall, home of the Art Department, was a hub of excitement in the midst of the scientific phenomenon, was inspiring.

Curated by Associate Professor of Photography and New Media Communications Julia Bradshaw, the Totality Exhibition brought together a variety of works by locally and nationally recognized artists.

When Julia first learned of the eclipse, she seized on the idea to show the public how artists contribute to the conversation.

“With this exhibition, and the companion arts activities, I bring together artworks and artists who put us in touch with our human relationship to the Cosmos in some manner.”

Art in-progress

Together with the gallery exhibition, Julia scheduled workshops and performances on photography, print making, and poetry writing for the throngs of eclipse visitors who descended on our sleepy campus.

Eclipse visitors making mono-prints.

Artist events showcased work-in-progress style forums, where visitors watched and learned and practiced art.  Artist events included a performance piece by Kaitlyn Wittig- Mengüç and a poetry writing workshop led by Qwo-Li Driskill.

Eclipse visitors watch a performance art piece unfold.

Visitors watched mural painter Johnny Beaver at work, helped children’s author Eric Wayne Dickey write his next book, and listened to musicians Ryan Biesack and Mike Gamble improvise work inspired by the cosmos.

Mural artist Johnny Beaver talks about his process with visitors.

Julia was certain that the Totality art show would have appeal.

“That the eclipse is happening in our back yard is very special, but everyone’s reasons for viewing it is different. Our relationship to the Cosmos is like that: some are interested in space as a vehicle for fantasy and some are interested in space as a vehicle for scientific exploration.”

And she was right!  Fairbanks Hall saw an estimated 1,000 visitors on Saturday, and approximately 2,000 on Sunday.  It was wonderful to see so many visitors on campus.

Visitors make their own cyanotype sun prints.

A Lasting Effect

The Totality events catered to the young and old, and it added context to a truly extraordinary cosmological event.  I am certain the eclipse itself will leave lasting memories in the millions of people who witnessed it across the country.  I am equally certain that the Totality exhibition and events helped the thousands of visitors to our state and to our campus think about the significance of the eclipse on their daily lives.

I, for one, am still buzzing with inspiration.

Photos by Julia Bradshaw.  To see others, click here.


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