Art Museum show celebrates Haitian culture
FRIDAY THROUGH MARCH 17: A mermaid made of thousands of glittering beads, tin sculptures cut into shapes and paintings exploding with color and life — they’re all bringing the culture of Haiti to the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette
The newest exhibition, “A Celebration of Haitian Art,” borrows from the Waterloo Center for the Arts collection, and Purdue Black Cultural Center is a partner. The exhibit opens with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday and continues through March 17.
Mona Berg, guest curator, said the art brings something new to the museum. Many pieces depict elements of the voodoo religion or tragic events in the nation’s history, but they all emanate a kind of joy, she said.
“They kept their spirits up through their art,” she said.
The exposure to a new culture is important, BCC Director Renee Thomas said, and it’s also part of the BCC’s mission.
“The message we try to promote at the Black Cultural Center is that it is not just for the African-American community,” Thomas said. “We feel our partnership with the Art Museum offers an opportunity to expand our outreach to the broader community.”
When: Until March 17; opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Art Museum of Greater Lafayette, 102 S. 10th St.
How much: Free
Also: Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily
sponsored by the Purdue Black Cultural Center and Indiana University Health
The Art Museum of Greater Lafayette announced one of the largest single gifts in its history on Tuesday.
Mike Hasegawa, a professor at Purdue, and his wife, Mary Lou, donated 89 pieces of Native American Pueblo pots to the museum, 102 S. 10th St. The pots had been part of the current exhibition “Navajo Rugs and Pueblo Pots” and came from the couple’s private collection.
Though they are still having the collection appraised, the Hasegawas and Kendall Smith II, the director of the museum, said the insurance alone will cost more than $100,000.
“This is probably one of the most significant gifts in the history of our museum,” Smith said. “And we’re over 100 years old.”
Mike Hasegawa said the collection started in the 1990s, and it grew through the years. Eventually, he and his wife collected pieces from all 19 pueblos in New Mexico as well as others from the Navajo and Apache in Arizona. They had been talking to Bruno Moser, the chairman of exhibitions at the museum and a good friend, and he encouraged them to consider donating. They also were thinking about moving, and they didn’t want to take the pots with them, Mike Hasegawa said. But sharing the works with people in the community was a big motivator.
“I think probably the thing that convinced us the most was when we came down and saw it,” he said. “It shows so much better than it would in the house.”
The breadth of work itself is impressive, said Mona Berg, the chairwoman of collections, but she said the works also employ intricate techniques. The pots tell stories, and they represent years of knowledge, she said.
“What we have here is a representation of several generations of Pueblo potters,” Berg said.
The collection will remain in the exhibit until 4 p.m. Dec. 23. It will then move to the permanent collection, Smith said, where select pieces will come out for display regularly and could travel to other museums.
Art Museum education center carries donor's story
written by Laura Sedam
Above the newly painted purple doors of the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette, there is a sign.
“The Manya Fan Art Education Center,” it reads.
It represents the renovated art rooms inside, a $150,000 gift and a resource for the community that officially opened on Saturday. But it’s more than a plaque on a building.
The letters hold the story of a woman and a family, of hours spent volunteering and making art with old friends.
It’s a story of passion and care, a whole life commemorated in a phrase.
This is the story behind the sign.
After their mother’s death, Manya Fan’s children came back to Lafayette. It was 2010, and they were living all over the country, but her memorial brought them back together.
They had all grown up here, attending West Lafayette High School while their father worked as a professor at Purdue University.
Their mother spent time at home with them, but she also became deeply involved at the Art Museum.
She volunteered, and after her children had grown, she took as many classes as she could. She was a member of the Art League, and she often baked treats for receptions, said Kendall Smith II, the director of the museum. In 1979, she received the Louis A. Weil award for outstanding volunteer service. She was on the board of directors, and she became president from 1980-81.
Before she died, Manya told her children — David, Hung, Vicky and Frances — that she wanted to make a substantial gift to the museum. It wasn’t in her will, but they knew it was what she wanted.
While they were in town, Smith showed them the old education center space, and they saw how badly a new one was needed. The space hadn’t been touched since the museum was built in 1960.
Education had been very important to their mother.
David said he remembered that once, when he was little, he asked his mother, who came from China, why the government used so many resources moving the universities during a war.
“For the Chinese,” she said, “if you lose your universities, you lose your claim to civilization.”
Together, they decided to donate the $150,000 it would take to complete the center that would be named after their mother.
“The best thing about this is since she was really involved in both art and education, this brings that together,” David said.
The spirit of art
Manya was an artist too, and few people feel the legacy she left at the museum more than the members of the Fabric Guild. It’s the group Manya started in the early 1970s, after she began focusing on her own artwork.
The group flourished at first. There were anywhere from 20 to 30 members, and they worked in everything from batik to tie dye. But, more important, they grew close. They ate lunch together at the museum, and they shared stories about their children. They learned from one another in the old room.
Now, the group is down to five members, including Helen Radavich, who joined shortly after its founding. They moved out of the art museum during the construction, and they haven’t yet had a full meeting in the new space named after their founding member. Yet the members who get together to talk and work still feel the quiet ways Manya influenced them.
“If ever anyone was lovely, it was Manya,” Helen Radavich said.
A new beginning
The project really started in February 2012. The money came through, and the museum had a plan set. Faculty members including Jane and Jeff Boswell, who have taught pottery classes at the museum for a few years, helped build shelves, and some of their students helped with the sinks.
The workers threw away pots and projects left behind from the 1970s and ’80s, replaced tiles, redid the bathroom and redesigned the studio spaces. They removed a darkroom and installed air handlers to remove clay dust from the air. They came out with a pottery studio and two multipurpose studios, and everything is modern and adaptable.
Now, the Boswells’ beginning pottery class meets in the center. It’s leaps and bounds above the old space, Jane Boswell said.
“I think we really have a state-of-the-art education center,” Smith said.
It can accommodate about 30 percent more students and new media, he added.
Though the opening was celebrated Saturday with a ribbon cutting and was attended by the Fan children, eventually, Smith said, things will settle down. Classes like the beginning pottery of the Boswells and the work of the Fabric Guild will continue, and people will forget that the new center wasn’t always what it is now.
“I know her children wanted her spirit to live on in art education,” he said. “They knew how much of her heart was in this museum.”
And now, Smith said, all they’ll have to do is look up and see her name.