Walk into an art museum, any art museum, and what do you see? “Frames” probably isn’t what comes to mind. How many people focus on the frames around artwork for even a second before moving on to the next artwork in a gallery? We put so much emphasis on the art itself that what surrounds it is often left unnoticed. I am just as guilty of this as the next person, but as an intern here at DOMA, I have gained a new appreciation for the thought and artistry put into frames.
Frames are the Cinderellas of the art world; they do a tremendous amount of work but are often overlooked. Frames protect the artworks they support; they show off the qualities of a picture, drawing attention to its formal structure, its patterns and colors, all while enabling them to resonate fully with a viewer. Due to their beauty, frames can easily outshine their partnered artwork. Deciding on the perfect frame comes with specific criteria. One must determine whether the frame accents as well as protects the artwork.
The frame may have started out as a form of protection with less intricate designs. However, it wasn’t before long when the art of framing became important. Frames are partly furniture and partly sculpture. They are works of art, carved by the best sculptors of their day, and yet their job is to serve the paintings they encase.
The most common type of frames which appear golden in color are generally gilded with gold leaf but could also be painted. Gilding is a very delicate process where sheets of beaten gold are applied to the surface of a frame.
After noticing the beauty of the frames at DOMA I began to wonder why some of the works are frameless. Works of art may not have frames surrounding them because the artist did not want to frame their work of art. For example, many contemporary works of art do not have frames at all.
On your next visit to DOMA take a little extra time before moving onto the next the piece of artwork and admire the beauty of the frames. You will never truly know what you’re missing until you think outside the box.
Never has the question ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ seemed more pertinent than in these last few months. As an incoming senior in Ball State University’s art history program, I know my options are plenty. And while I have always prided myself on having a wide variety of interests I recently came to the conclusion that it would be beneficial to also have a wide variety of experiences. This line of thinking led me to pursue two summer art internships. The first as a museum education program intern at the David Owsley Museum of Art, and the second as a guest experience coordinator at Nickel Plate Arts.
When I heard I was accepted for the museum education internship at DOMA months ago I was immediately excited. Finally, I was given an opportunity to apply what I learned in my art history courses to practice. My brief background in volunteering as a docent, as well as previous class projects such as the DOMA Project App (on GooglePlay and iTunes), aided my expectations. However, nothing could prepare me for the intricacies I encountered. Most pronounced, the fact that the research is meant to be a guiding tool and the knowledge learned is meant to be shared. Through working with other interns, I have also learned about the power of perspective, and how one’s own experiences inform the way they approach art. Educational tours centered on unique critical thinking strategies have helped us connect with the public’s experiences and perspectives as well. It is valuable to understand these differences in perspectives and experiences, to learn and grow from them. For example, ‘Exercises for the Quiet Eye’ invited the public to engage art through slow, mindful activities. Personally, it was an opportunity to hear how people within the community interpreted and connected with art on varying levels. Someone with knowledge of architecture could pick up on architectural features, someone who easily empathized with others could pick up on subtle body language in portraits, and so on.
Nickel Plate Arts similarly engages with many individuals. A small administration team (the director, the artist liaison/exhibit coordinator, the operations coordinator) and interns regularly interact with the public. Essentially, Nickel Plate Arts acts as an art collective. The name itself refers to the historic 30-mile railroad that runs through six communities, from southern Hamilton County to southern Tipton County. The Noblesville campus includes two historic homes that have been renovated for gallery spaces and artist studios. The goal is to promote and provide aid to artists in the communities, and ultimately give the community a space to explore the arts. A number of programs and events are offered in lieu of such a goal, and there is hardly a dull moment. What surprised me most at all the exhibit openings and events were the number of people who walk in and still operate under the stigma that art is not an interactive experience. While there are limitations to physically viewing art, there are few limitations to the thoughts and opinions one can have. Hopefully continued efforts through programs and events will yield change. It could also be interesting to hold educational programs in gallery space, like at DOMA.
These worlds collide more often than not. In fact, they are essentially two sides of the same coin. On one, researching art with a focus on the history and knowledge that can be shared by docents with the public. On the other, promoting contemporary artists with a focus on the communities that can be engaged. Both are important in understanding the role art plays in society, whether it be on more academic or local levels. DOMA and NPA have a hand
their community’s art scene, reaching out in hopes of showing how art can be a substantial means of expression. My internships have personally changed the way I view art and art history. I now have a better grasp on how the historical informs the contemporary, and vice versa. And even further, how continuation of community engagement can perpetuate interest in the arts and strengthen connections between art, history, and community.
By Caitlyn Walter, Interpretive Planning Assistant
If you stop in to the Brown Study Room at DOMA this summer, you’ll notice an image that is likely to be familiar: “LOVE,” in large red letters against a green and blue background, the “O” slightly tilted. In the decades since its conception, this composition has become one of the most widely recognized works of art in the world. It has taken on a life of its own in the form of bumper stickers, magnets, t-shirts, book covers, sculptures, and prints like ours. The artist grew up not far from here, and his influence is more than just the famous image of “LOVE.”
Robert Indiana was born Robert Clark on September 13, 1928 in New Castle, Indiana. He adopted his pseudonym in 1958 to celebrate his Midwestern origins, a choice consistent with his interest in Americana. His early work introduced sign-like geometric shapes and monosyllabic words that read like shorthand for a biography – “EAT,” “HUG,” “ERR,” and “DIE.”
In 1954, Robert moved to New York City where he met Hard-edge painter Ellsworth Kelly, who became his artistic mentor and intimate friend. Kelly found a studio loft for him in Lower Manhattan and introduced Indiana to other artists, including Agnes Martin, Jack Youngerman, James Rosenquist, Charles Hinman and Lenore Tawney. Indiana’s friendships with Hard-edge and Pop artists of the New York scene influenced his style and furthered his career. In addition to paintings and large-scale sculptures, Indiana worked on stage sets for opera and theatre and an avant-garde film Eat with Andy Warhol.
Between 1964 and 1966, Indiana developed his iconic, imaged word: LOVE. He did not properly copyright his famous image, and it was quickly appropriated for countless unauthorized uses. Disillusioned with the art world and feeling his reputation had been tarnished by plagiarism, Indiana relocated to a remote island off the coast of Maine in 1978. He continued to produce art and enjoy considerable fame in the following decades, culminating in a retrospective, “Robert Indiana: Beyond LOVE”, at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2013. Indiana died at his Vinalhaven Island home, the Star of Hope, on May 19, 2018, at the age of 89.
On Saturday, June 9 the Muncie Symphony Orchestra presented their annual “Festival on the Green” event. Although this year, due to rain, it became the “Festival on the Floor” in the Ball State Field Sports Building, the event was still a huge success with over 400 people attending, including representatives from David Owsley Museum of Art, Cornerstone Center for the Arts, Muncie Civic Theatre, Muncie Public Library, Dazzle Dance, and many other local organizations.
This year’s theme, “Country Music” explored music from countries all over the world including The Star Spangled Banner, Finlandia, and Hungarian Dance #5. The DOMA team had a mask-making activity inspired by African masks we have on display and an art and map matching activity for participants to learn about some of the arts’ respective country of origin. This was a valuable learning experience for people of all ages and led many to express interest in coming to the museum to see the art in person. The kids loved making masks and were interested in how the masks at the museum were made.
Everyone was very creative in their crafting; some even made matching bracelets by threading beads onto pipe cleaners. Even Charlie Cardinal came to the table and let the kids help him make his own mask. After finishing his mask, Charlie led all the kids in the “Children’s March” around the gym.
Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns are considered by many to be two of the most influential American artists due to their radical blending of materials and methods. The two of them were a crucial figure in the transition from Abstract Expressionism to later modern movements.
Robert Rauschenberg followed his parents’ wishes and attended the University of Texas to study pharmacology, but was expelled after refusing to dissect a frog. The draft letter that arrived in 1943 saved him from breaking the disappointing news to his parents. Refusing to kill on the battlefield, he was assigned as a medical technician in the Navy Hospital Corps and stationed at a hospital caring for combat survivors in San Diego. While on breaks, he saw oil paintings in person for the first time at the Huntington Art Gallery in California. After the war ended Rauschenberg used the G.I. Bill to pay for art classes at Kansas State University in 1947.
Jasper Johns knew from an early age he wanted to be an artist. Before moving to New York in the early 1950s, he studied for a brief period at the University of South Carolina. Urged by his professors to study in New York, he moved north and spent one semester at the Parsons School of Design in 1948. However, Parsons was not the ideal fit for Johns, and he left the school, rendering him eligible for the draft. In 1951, he was drafted into the army and spent two years in the service during the Korean War.
Rauschenberg and Johns met at a party in 1953 and after several months of friendship, the two became romantic and artistic partners from 1954 to 1961. In 1955, the two artists had neighboring studio spaces, and became the main audience for each other’s work. Though their styles were initially too different to form a truly coherent movement, Rauschenberg described their artistic relationship as giving “permission to do what we wanted.”