Observation: Corban Walker

By Breyanne Urbin

Art lovers joined us at the David Owsley Museum of Art on Thursday, February 23 to welcome Corban Walker and Lisa Banner. Walker is one of three featured artists in SHIFT, a contemporary sculpture exhibition at the David Owsley Museum of Art, curated by Dr. Lisa Banner. The two of them presented and talked about the masterful artwork of Walker to David Owsley Museum of Art’s visitors in Recital Hall.


Pictured: Corban Walker and Lisa Banner on stage at First Person: Corban Walker (Photo by Emma Rogers)

Born and raised in Dublin, Corban Walker stays busy all around the world working on his art. Linearity dominates his art style; sometimes, Walker likes to make chaos with linearity but a majority of his work tends to be very orderly and simple. To explain why his art is usually so simplistic, Walker quoted Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957, Romanian Sculptor) in his presentation saying, ‘Simplicity is complexity resolved.’ Walker will also involve his viewers into his art whether it is by making his art an obstacle for the viewer to overcome or by using translucent material to catch the viewer’s eye. The art becomes interactive.


Pictured: Observation, 2012, Corban Walker (Photo from corbanwalker.com)

Standing at four feet tall, Walker uses his art to challenge his viewers’ mindset on what “normal” really means which he mentioned this idea during his speech. Since I have been involved with SHIFT, this semester, I personally found it interesting to learn more about Walker’s art outside of SHIFT. I loved hearing about his art process and how he makes the viewers such an important element in his work.


Pictured: The second gallery in SHIFT. (Photo by Steven Talley)

Lisa Banner, who joined Walker on stage for his presentation, is a professor at the well-known Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. Director Dr. Robert La France describes her as, “A scholar and curator of old masters.” Near the end of the event, I was able to interview her about her decision to curate SHIFT. Banner explained to me that she saw a relation between Christopher Smith and Jongil Ma’s work as the work of both speak the same artistic language and share visual similarities. She added Walker into the mix as the three artists focused on architectural structure and linearity.When Banner talks about SHIFT, it’s obvious to me she has great passion and dedication to art.

The work of Ma and Walker both share the interesting element of tension as no adhesive is used in some of their artwork, which Banner said, “Attracts me, so delicate and vulnerable but so convincing all at the same time.”

Pictured left to right: MINUS WITH CLAMPS, 2014, Jongil Ma (Photo by Steven Talley);  Untitled (Stack K), 2010, Corban Walker (Photo by Steven Talley)

Once the presentation concluded, visitors were able to mingle in the Sculpture Court and visit the SHIFT exhibition. Before leaving, Walker voiced his appreciation for all the student helpers that made the exhibition possible. Everyone was also given an opportunity to individually speak with Walker or Banner at this time. People seemed to have a pleasant time during the event. Jongil Ma and Christopher Smith will be here at the David Owsley Museum of Art for their First Person presentation on April 20 and SHIFT will be open through May 7.

Follow the David Owsley Museum of Art on Twitter and Instagram @domaatbsu and like us on Facebook.

Museum packed for exhibition-inspired performance


As guests filed into the Sculpture Court at the Music in the Museum event, it quickly became apparent that a much larger crowd than expected wanted a chance to see Jim Rhinehart’s improvisational performance. In addition to packing every seat, students and community members filled the stairs and balcony to hear the music inspired by the museum’s current special exhibition SHIFT: Jongil Ma, Christopher Smith, Corban Walker.


Guests closed their eyes while listening to the nearly hour-long performance, eliminating any distractions from around the room in order to simply take in the music. After the performance, guests were invited to view the exhibition for themselves, forming their own opinions about the work and what it means to them personally. It isn’t often that the visual art and music worlds combine in a live performance, but this event successfully combined the two for an inspiring night at the museum.


After the event, Jim said, “Thank you to everybody who attended the concert last night! It was great to see so many people taking in the art that Muncie has to offer! And a big thank you to the staff and interns of the David Owsley Museum of Art – you guys ROCK!”

Check out Jim’s blog here: http://www.jimrhinehart.com/shift-blog/archives/01-2017

Follow the David Owsley Museum of Art on Twitter and Instagram @domaatbsu and like us on Facebook.

Blog by Emma Rogers

Diverse representation and the arts

Diversity and inclusivity are issues that art commonly addresses, but they are not as visible in the art world as many people would like. Many times the most famous artists were white and male, while talented female and minority artists were swept under the rug. The David Owsley Museum of Art has a broad collection of artists of various ethnic backgrounds as well as artists that represent diversity in their work. Here are just a few:

Harriet Goodhue Hosmer 


Harriet Goodhue Hosmer, born October 9, 1830 and died February 21, 1908, was a distinguished female sculptor in America and is credited to have “led the flock” of other female sculptors. In her time period of the 19th century, women rarely had careers, especially as sculptors. They were not allowed the same art education as men because of gendered ideas about education. They were not allowed to attend classes and usually stayed home. Because of this, many times female artists created imagery and works depicting home life, usually children or scenery.

Like many of the women of this time, Hosmer was not allowed to attend art classes because working with a live model was not allowed for women. To get past this, she moved to Rome to study art and opened her own studio, paying for private sculpture lessons and taking anatomy classes.


Hosmer’s work Mother and Child is currently on display on the 3rd floor Ball Brother’s Foundation Gallery east wing among other works done by female artists Malvina Hoffman and Bessie Potter Vonnoh.

Thom Shaw


Thom Shaw is an African American artist that died in 2010. His work depicts issues of race, poverty, violence, and community. His wood relief prints, while seemingly pertinent to today’s societal issues, are actually over 25 years old. His images are confrontational and make the viewer really think about the issues they discuss through sharp lines and thought-provoking subject matter. Shaw studied at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and was one of the first African American artists to exhibit in the Cincinnati Art Museum.

Shaw also mentored minority students, many times inviting them into his studios and doing demonstrations. His work spoke of guns and drugs and police brutality on the black community. He helped start these discussions years before they became the polarizing discussions they are today. His prints show the ugliest parts of society in the most striking and beautiful of ways.


Thom Shaw’s piece Alley Buffet was just taken down from the New Acquisitions show. If you missed it here is a preview. Be sure to keep an eye out for when it makes its next debut.

Robert Gwathmey


Robert Gwathmey was a social realist painter born January 24th, 1903 and died September 21st, 1988 from Richmond, Virginia, and is recognized as the first white American artist to create distinguished depictions of black Americans. His works were very diverse and he tried to demonstrate a more realistic view of rural life in the American south. Gwathmey has always been known as a social activist, believing that art and social issues cannot be separated. He said, “I’m a social being and I don’t see how you can be an artist and be separate. Artists have eyes. You go home. You see things that are almost forgotten. It’s always shocking.”

Gwathmey’s style is very abstract and simple, somewhat reminiscent of Picasso and his cubist style of figures. He uses flat block colors and shapes and symbolic abstraction to convey the meaning of his work. The figures are two-dimensional and are often shown surrounded by stark backgrounds with linear details, giving them a powerful presence.

Gwathmey spent many long years creating art that focused on his political activism. He was very committed to civil rights and workers’ rights. His serigraph print titled Singing and Mending is on display on the third floor in the Ball Brother’s Foundation Gallery and is a powerful part of the museum’s collection.


Our current exhibition, SHIFT challenges perceptions of reality through sculpture and includes a diverse array of artists. Check out the exhibition that runs through May 7.

Follow the museum on Instagram and Twitter @domaatbsu.

Shift: Explaining the role of curator Lisa Banner

As a collection management intern, I often see the latter end of the exhibition process. When art work has been sifted through and selected, loans and gift agreement signed, our team steps in to unpack and document what is finally displayed to visitors. Though I have participated in this process for the fall exhibition Continuum, I have always wondered what happens during the calm before the storm.

Set to open in January of the New Year, DOMA’s exhibition, SHIFT, not only presents a unique take on the relationships between collaborating artists but also that between curator and artist. The show exhibits the works of three artists Jongil Ma, Christopher Smith, and Corban Walker. Under the curatorial direction of Lisa Banner, these three artists have been brought together to explore movement and perspective through a number different mediums including glass, wood, and video. As this post is dedicated to the role of the curator, I knew there was no better way to begin than with the curator herself. I prefaced a meeting with Lisa by establishing a number of questions that I felt would be important in understanding a curator beyond someone whose position is often seen as omniscient and elusive. I wanted to know…

1. How does a curator select artists for a collaborative show? Do they focus on aesthetics, theme, narrative, or a combination of factors?

2. How do curators interact with artists in terms of choosing what will be shown?

3. What role do artists play in the curatorial process?

4. In a collaborative exhibition, what role do curators play in the interaction between the artists featured?

For Lisa Banner, the primary curator of Shift, the hands of the featured artists tell the stories that connect them. All three artists, though they work in different media, are all craftsmen. The hands of Ma tell the narrative of a furniture maker, those of Smith the narrative of a painter, and Walker’s that of a sculptor. The worn appendages of these craftsmen reinforce the notion that the personal identity of each artist carries through into their fine art, as both their trade and leisure are produced from the same hands.

Having worked with two of the artists (Jongil Ma and Christopher Smith) in the past, Banner is familiar with how the work of each artist flows with the other. By adding Corban Walker to the duo, Lisa focuses on theme in order to select pieces appropriate for the exhibition. Though Lisa suggests what art may work well in the exhibition, she admits that the final say is with the artist. She mentions that when curating a show, she might work with an artist who is transitioning between styles or media. In that case, what the artist may want to show is often a surprise. Though this is true, leaving the choice to the artist tends to bring forth what they feel represents them as well as the exhibition best.


Banner speaks at length about her role as a conduit between artists. She notes that in curating a collaborative show, it is important to not only understand an artist’s aesthetic but also their personal story. All three artists included in the show have either a personal relationship with the curator or one of the other artists represented. As a curator, Lisa recognizes what may happen when two or more artists inhabit the same exhibition space. Though they may collaborate naturally, she helps to mediate the interaction and creative collaboration between them. The exhibition, Shift, aims to create a conversation about perspective and motion through the lenses of artists who work in different media. The curator, as an expert of and a friend to these artists, sets the stage for this discussion to emerge.

SHIFT is on exhibition from Friday, Jan. 20 to Sunday, May 7. Follow the museum on Instagram and Twitter @domaatbsu and like us on Facebook.

Thursdays are for Training

Alexis Kiesel
Community Outreach Intern

DOMAInsider_Mugshots     As the semester winds down, I have been reflecting on the appreciation and knowledge I have gained from the docent training program at DOMA. In addition to being involved in all activities relating to community outreach, I have had the opportunity as an intern to attend weekly docent training meetings on Thursday afternoons at 3:30 p.m.

These meetings have given me a new insight into museums. Docents are volunteers who lead tours through the museum. These people amaze and inspire me each time I interact with them. They range in age from college students to early eighties. These docents are students, teachers, and retired community members who love art and want to share their knowledge. According to Barbara Alvarez Bohanon, “The Docent Learning Program at DOMA has greatly expanded my horizons through knowledge and appreciation of art.  I enjoy using that knowledge to help museum visitors grow as they find their own connections to art and the world beyond.”

Fall 2016 Docents

Cathy Bretz, DOMA’s Education Program Coordinator, with the help of Tania Said, Director of Education, works diligently to prepare for the docent training meetings each week. Cathy also deftly arranges tours and recruits trained docents to lead these tours. In addition to this, she creates the tour plans for most guided tours.

When asked about the program, Cathy said, “The best part of my job is working with and getting to know our volunteers. Through their efforts, we’re able to engage visitors of all ages and I’m grateful for their continued dedication to DOMA. We simply couldn’t do it without them.”

MVI_0228.MOV.00_00_00_22.Still001.jpgSierra Trowbridge, the current DOMA education assistant, past DOMA education intern, and docent of 2 ½ years made the comment: “As a public history major, being a docent is a constant learning experience, both with art and people. I’ve met many fantastic people and made many connections that would not have happened otherwise. The knowledge that I have gained about interacting with art and helping others appreciate art is absolutely priceless.”

Throughout my time in the program, I have not only been privileged to meet these docents, but I also had the opportunity to learn from experts in different areas of art. I have been educated on Pre-Columbian, Native American, African, Chinese and Japanese, mvi_7212-mov-00_00_42_05-still001Indian, Tibetan and Nepalese, and Pacific art. Not only have I been exposed to extensive new knowledge on these works of art and the cultures that made them, I have been able to look at works in DOMA that correspond with each type of art and given an explanation of these objects by experts. Questions were welcomed by the art historians, historians, and artists. This conveyed what they thought valuable for docents to know about their respective specialties.

The opportunity to be involved in the docent training program has been one of the most notable I have had while interning at the museum. I would suggest the program to anyone interested in working in a museum, education, art or related subjects. The next informational meeting is Thursday, January 12, at 3:30 pm in AR 223 at the David Owsley Museum of Art in the Fine Arts Building of Ball State University. To become involved in the docent training program, please contact Cathy Bretz at cabretz@bsugmail.com.