Interdisciplinary artist and poet Jen Bervin performing Silk Line, a durational drawing that mimics the filament pattern of a silkworm creating its cocoon. This work was one of 23 included in Shift Rotate Reflect, Bervin's 2020 solo exhibition at University Galleries. Charlotte Lagarde, Bervin's wife and collaborator, is pictured recording the performance.
Founded in 1973, University Galleries of Illinois State University is one of the premier exhibition spaces for contemporary art in the Midwest. In October 2014, University Galleries moved to its current location at Uptown Station at the corner of Beaufort and Broadway streets in Normal. All exhibitions and events are free and open to the public.
The University Galleries Fund supports student scholarships and awards given at the Illinois State University Student Annual exhibition, workshop supplies, and transportation stipends for K-12 student field trips, artists' honoraria, and exhibition catalogues.
During the 2020-2021 academic year and summer 2021, University Galleries is presenting eight exhibitions.
Highlights include: Shift Rotate Reflect, the first survey of poet and interdisciplinary artist Jen Bervin's work; the MFA Biennial, featuring new works by 15 MFA students, as well as student-created online performances, workshops, and artist lectures; and the Student Annual, which recognizes the creative achievements of dozens of students each year. Supplementary materials are created for each exhibition, including artist talks, lesson plans, artmaking videos, and guided tours.
To Hypnotize Them with Forgetfulness, a 96-page catalogue addressing films and photographs by Egyptian artist Basim Magdy was recently published. Exhibition catalogues are forthcoming for artists Aram Han Sifuentes, Bethany Collins, Jen Bervin, Alice Hargrave, and for the group exhibition An Infinite and Omnivorous Sky.
Students gain hands-on experience with art handling, installation, and creating educational materials for each of these exhibitions—including complex coding for Jen Bervin's 5-channel video installation—and contributed to research for the publications.
In addition to being open to the public, University Galleries offers free virtual exhibition tours, which has expanded outreach with staff now regularly meeting with classes and individuals both nationwide and internationally.
University Galleries' Teen Art Group has continued thanks to a grant from the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation. Students from Bloomington High School meet monthly with University Galleries' staff to learn about academic and professional development opportunities in the visual arts. This year, students have already met with Erin Hayden, a Chicago-based artist and alum; Sercan Sengun, a game designer and faculty member in Creative Technologies; Kantara Souffrant, a writer, performer, educator, and faculty member in Art History and Visual Culture; Aram Han Sifuentes, a Chicago-based artist and educator; and Roy Magnuson, a composer and faculty member in the School of Music.
Gifts received on Birds Give Back will support University Galleries' commitment to providing rich opportunities for engagement with contemporary art that has grown to include: stroller tours, family art-making workshops, artist-led workshops, scavenger hunts, panel discussions, extended performances, reading areas, and collaborative programming with the Children's Discovery Museum, in addition to curator-led tours, workshops, and artist lectures.