Benton’s exhibit appeals to students of all interests
Published: Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 22:10
I was taken on a journey into the 1900s, viewing numerous perspectives of quiet moments that represent America. This wasn’t during my photojournalism class yesterday, either; it was when I spent an hour at the Benton moving through their two new exhibits.
The phrase “two new exhibits” isn’t tossed around lightly. Under the direction of Nancy Stula, the Benton has taken up a new method of displaying artwork. Out of the three galleries in the building, one of the galleries will continually rotate through works from the Benton’s personal collection while the other two will host exhibits. With the arrival of two new exhibits, it’s as if the museum has had a makeover in content. Vastly different, the two exhibits showcase the photographs from the 20th century and contemporary art from India and the diaspora.
For those who aren’t veterans or frequents of the museum, perhaps the new changes in the galleries don’t mean much. Spending an hour at an art museum isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, nor would some call it relaxing. I’ve enjoyed looking at art for a while now, but haven’t figured out, until today, how this appreciation could be felt and experienced by all students at UConn.
Running into an old friend from high school at the exhibits, I was curious why he was there and what he liked the best. He is an environmental studies major and pointed me to a painting by William Lois Sonntag, a Hudson River Valley painter. The Hudson River School is an American art movement that focused on natural landscape paintings seen through the scope of Romanticism. English and art majors will probably understand what this means and where it comes from, but for everyone else, these painting feature the vastness of American landscape in the 1800s where human beings are painted small and almost unnoticeable compared to the hills, mountains, and valleys of the country shortly after its founding.
As an environmental scientist, my friend related with the human beings inside the painting, commenting on how the landscape can’t be mastered by humans but only worked with. I told him my perspective of the painting is greatly different, since I viewed the piece as a part of an exhibit, which was necessary for a story, as a journalist.
Just speaking to him about this one piece opened my eyes to how students from all different majors can relate to art works in unique ways. Art isn’t just for artists. It’s made for communities and for expression, and when all parts of a community come together to express and share views, there’s a lot of room for growth and exploration of understandings.
These exhibits at the Benton speak out to every person, something that I think is vastly underplayed and mot utilized to the fullest the way it should and could be. If you ever find yourself stuck around the Student Union for an hour between classes, or waiting for a meeting, I’d suggest popping into the Benton and allowing yourself to connect to artwork – stories and movements – that speak to you.