Today: May 29, 2024

Pre-Columbian Art Gallery opens and displays artifacts from 900 B.C.

Jay’Mi Vazquez – News Editor

In Buley Library on Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. every week, students can visit the newly added Pre-Columbian art exhibition, displaying around 100 pieces. 

Gallery Director Cort Sierpinski said what some of these Pre-Columbian art pieces are and what their importance in history is.  

“Most of these pieces came from modern-day Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Peru. These objects date as far back as 900 B.C., to the Nicoya civilization in Costa Rica, dating to around 1500 A.D. Most of them symbolize ceremonial, religious and utilitarianism,” Sierpinski said. 

Dean of Arts and Sciences Bruce Kalk said that the Pre-Columbian exhibit shows a different perspective from American History, that is not talked about enough. 

“This exhibit exemplifies what indigenous people were creating artistically without any influence from Europe, “Kalk said. 

Sierpinski explained how he had to research all these Pre-Columbian art pieces as a part of the curation process. 

“I spent the summer researching so we could figure out where these pieces came from, the approximate age of them, which cultures they came from. That is all a part of the curation,” Sierpinski said.  

Sierpinski explained some of the other pieces the university has in the Permanent Collection.  

“Monumental sculptures and drums down to smaller jewelry pieces and gold weights. The Pre-Columbian ceramic collection which is on display old engravings and etchings a contemporary ceramic collection,” Sierpinski said. 

The university experienced a flood in 2007, which damaged numerous pieces of artwork. Sierpinski said that he is aware that there are some aspects of history that are not available to be displayed like sculptures and paintings, but they are slowly trying to get more pieces every year. 

The gallery tends to exhibit pieces from the Permanent Collection a few times each semester, Sierpinski explained. 

“I’m trying to always exhibit pieces that have never been exhibited here with the importance of these Pre-Columbian pieces, it will remain for the rest of this semester,” Sierpinski said.  

At the university, the gallery relies on donations from collectors and money raised from a yearly pottery sale to build up pieces for the Permanent Collection. This is what brings in funds to purchase new pieces since the budget for the gallery is not a large fund, Sierpinski added. 

Sierpinski explained what exhibits will be coming in the Spring 2024 semester. 

“We have three exhibits planned. One is some of Dimitri Petrov prints any studio arts majors graduating will present work as part of their capstone and an exhibition of graphic design majors graduating,” Sierpinski said.  

Sierpinski and Kalk are both excited about the arts administration minor. This minor gives opportunities for students to get involved with the gallery.  

“Any internships that are part of that program will see the full-scale operation. From curating exhibits to restoration work of the collections in the backroom to public relations, to researching pieces,” Sierpinski said. 

“Students can get paid and work at the gallery. It is a really great opportunity for students to get a chance to have professional experience in a gallery,” Kalk said. 

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