Work of the Week: City Life

Written by: Taylor Henderson, Exhibition Design Intern

In the following week Black History Month will be ending in the U.S., U.K. and Canada. Perhaps you and your friends have either done something this month to show solidarity or learned something new about African-American culture and iconic figures. Even going to see “Black Panther” in theaters helps by supporting representation of African-Americans in the film industry. But if you’re looking for even more for your mind to chew on, DOMA can help.

Joseph Delaney. City Life, 1938. Oil on canvas. 21.38 x 14.38 inches. David Owsley Museum of Art. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Harper. 2010.021.003

The featured painting this month was “City Life” by Joseph Delaney. Delaney was born in 1904 in Knoxville, Tennessee. During the years of the Great Depression, Delaney made his way to New York City where he established himself as an artist. He is most known for his scenes depicting the Harlem Renaissance.

“City Life” is one such work. The artwork, painted in 1938, depicts a pedestrian street scene at New York’s famous Times Square. It shows both the vibrancy of urban life and an intermingling of different peoples. The Harlem Renaissance (during the time also referred to as the New Negro Movement) was also a pivotal time for black people in America, and New York City was its mecca. Delaney captured this zeitgeist using a new artistic originality, which led to his almost immediate recognition as an esteemed artist.

In 1986, Joseph Delaney returned to Tennessee to become an artist-in-residence at the University of Tennessee, where he lived until his death in 1991. His art has been shown at The Art Institute of Chicago, Knoxville Museum of Art, Museum of the City of New York, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and of course the David Owsley Museum of Art (among others).

As with many artists it’s an honor to display their work, and it is no exception with Delaney. The museum encourages you to take the time and visit City Life before the month ends.


Delaney, Joseph. City Life. 1938, David Owsley Museum of Art at Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana. Staff. “Harlem Renaissance.”, A&E Television Networks, 2009, www.

“Joseph Delaney.” David Owsley Museum of Art Collection, University Libraries Digital Media Repository,

“Joseph Delaney (Artist).” Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia, Wikipedia Foundation, Inc., 30 Nov. 2017, 13:02,


Work of the Week: Stele of Shiva as Bhairava

By: Emily Sabens, Public Relations Intern

In Hinduism, there are three main gods. The first is Brahma, who is the creator of the universe. Second is Vishnu, who protects and preserves the globe. And the third is Shiva, whose role is to destroy the world in order to recreate it.

While Shiva’s actions may sound paradoxical, Hindus say this destruction is constructive. They believe Shiva’s ability to demolish then rebuild is used to destroy all of the imperfections in the world.

Shiva is both good and evil, according to the Hindus. He does good in the world; but he can also become angry and transform into Bhairava, his angry manifestation.

Unidentified artist. Stele of Shiva as Bhairava, 1200–1299. Metabasalt. 52 3/8 x 26 x 10 inches. David Owsley Museum of Art. Gift of David T. Owsley. 1986.039.003

“Stele of Shiva as Bhairava” shows Shiva as his alter ego, Bhairava. This sculpture depicts a time when Shiva was angry with Brahma—so he decided to cut off one of Brahma’s five heads (which you can see in Bhairava’s left hand).

The god holds a variety of items in his hands. A trident. A sword. A bow. A knife. A drum. A scourge. While this assortment of items may seem random, they all are associated with war. His dog also accompanies him, but this isn’t your typical pup. Rather his canine scavenges for human remains in crematories.

While Bhairava is depicted nude, he does wear some accessories. A garland of skulls hangs around his neck. His headdress, too, is crafted of skulls as well as snakes.

Bhairava seems to be extremely frightening and intimidating in this sculpture. Despite this, the figure appears attractive and even seductive, posing in the tribhanga pose—a body stance often used in Indian sculptures to indicate grace and enticement.

Visit the David Owsley Museum of Art today to see “Stele of Shiva as Bhairava,” located downstairs in the Frank and Rosemary Ball Gallery.

National Love Your Pet Day

By: Emily Sabens, Public Relations Intern

Today is National Love Your Pet Day. According to the American Pet Products Association, 68 percent of households across the U.S. own a pet. At the David Owsley Museum of Art, we have many works of art that feature everything from Fido to felines.

1. Dog

Unidentified Craftsman, Pre-Columbian. Dog, 99 BCE-250 CE. Earthenware and slip. David Owsley Museum of Art. Gift of the Alconda-Owsley Foundation. 1989.020.003

Dogs are faithful, outgoing and let’s face it, adorable – which is why they are one of the most popular pets in the U.S. Scientists say canines have been man’s best friend for thousands of years.

“Dog” was made around 99 BCE to 250 CE. Although created centuries ago, the sculpture depicts a pup who appears like the dogs we see today – ears poised, an open mouth that could be taken as a smile and bright, open eyes.

This sculpture is known as a canine effigy figure, which are often found in Colima tombs. Scholars aren’t sure what exactly these dogs represent. Many believe these sculptures represent the entombed person’s pet, guiding its owner to the afterlife. (Others scholars think dogs were forced fed for consumption during ritual ceremonies – but since it’s National Love Your Pet Day, let’s go with the first choice.)

2. Feline Effigy Metate with Mano

Unidentified Artist, Pre-Columbian (Costa Rica, Nicoya Region). Feline Effigy Metate with Mano, 300-699. Carved rhyolitic volcanic stone with inlaid shell. David Owsley Museum of Art. Part of the David T. Owsley Collection. L1992.018.002a-b

Americans own more than 94 million cats. While they may not always be as social as dogs, felines are inquisitive, playful and super cute.

While “Feline Effagy Metate with Mano” doesn’t depict the cuddly and curious creature we know today, it does represent a jaguar, an ancestor to the domesticated cat. This piece was made around 300-699 by an unidentified Pre-Columbian artist.

3. Horse

Unidentified Artist, Chinese (Han Dynasty). Horse, 206 BCE-9 CE. Formed, fired and painted terracotta. David Owsley Museum of Art. Gift of David T. Owsley. 2013.019.085a-b

Horses and humans have formed special relationships for years. Domesticated by Asian nomads around 4,000 years ago, horses served as a way to travel for many societies before the invention of the engine.

Today, though, horses still play an important role to over 2 million people.

We have many works at DOMA that feature horses—including “Horse,” made by an unidentified artist during the Chinese Han Dynasty.

4. Covered Tripod Bird Vessel

Unidentified Artist, Pre-Columbian (Mexico, Maya culture). Covered Tripod Bird Vessel, 250-900. Formed and fired glazed earthenware. David Owsley Museum of Art. Part of the David T. Owsley Collection. L2012.007.002 a-b

While not the most popular pet choice, many people choose a bird for its intelligence, low-maintenance and, in some cases, its ability to hold a conversation with you.

“Covered Tripod Bird Vessel” was created between 250 and 900 by an unidentified Pre-Columbian artist and was lent to the museum by David Owsley.

8 Reasons Why Everyone Should Visit an Art Museum

Written by: Jessica Lindsey, Public Relations Intern

Looking at and analyzing artwork releases dopamine in the brain

New research by Semir Zeki, professor of neuroesthetics at University College London, shows that looking at artwork releases dopamine in the brain, the same neurotransmitter that allows us to feel love. Looking at art really makes you fall in love! Not only that, but dopamine also contributes to learning and high cognitive functioning. When looking at art, the more dopamine you release, the more you learn.

Studies have shown that viewing art can lead to a decrease in cortisol, the stress hormone

There are many effects of high levels of cortisol in the brain – including interfering with learning and memory, lowering immune function, increased weight gain, high blood pressure, cholesterol and heart disease. Looking at art allows the brain to process the stress hormone in a more efficient way, allowing a decrease in the effects of high cortisol levels, making a healthier you!

Can lead to inspiration

Do you ever feel that you’re stuck in a creative rut with no hope of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel? A museum is a great place to get those creative juices flowing. Looking at other artists’ works is a gateway to developments of new creative outlets such as music, architecture, interior design and writing.

Creates a feeling of awe

Looking at and analyzing art undoubtedly creates a feeling of awe, which can have a range of highly valuable effects. According to Rachel Fredericks, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Ball State University, people who feel more awe are generally more comfortable with uncertainty, are generally more motivated to increase their understanding, process information more systematically, and have enhanced memory, among many other things. To learn more about Dr. Fredericks and her background in philosophy, click here.

Getting educated outside of a classroom, at your own pace

The things you learn in a classroom might be important, but nothing beats what you learn through touring a gallery. Museums are environments where informal learning thrives – a process where individuals acquire beliefs, values, skills and knowledge from daily experiences and resources in their environments. You can also use self-guided tours to spend as much or as little time as you like on exhibits, something that might not be possible in a classroom environment.

Museums can make you smarter

In a study conducted by The New York Times, students from an Arkansas school were randomly selected to go on a field trip to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The students who attended the trip demonstrated stronger critical thinking skills, displayed higher levels of social tolerance, exhibited greater historical empathy and developed a taste for art museums and cultural institutions – all admirable qualities everyone should strive for. This experiment inspired development for the SMART program at DOMA, in which 4th grade students are led on guided tours that emphasize Indiana art, social studies, and language arts with pre- and post-visit activities. To learn more about the SMART program, click here.

Become an active part of the community

Museums have an extremely positive effect on the community. They have the ability to connect people from different cultures and religions by offering a glimpse into the creative minds of people from all over the world. A community that appreciates cultural diversity is one that fosters the idea of acceptance among people from many different backgrounds, creating a stronger community bond.

Spend time with friends and family

Art galleries are great places to better connect with family. Analyzing a painting, sketch or sculpture together creates a shared learning experience between parents, children and siblings. Parents also transform into tour guides, leading their children through the galleries and encouraging them to think outside the box. At DOMA throughout the month of February, we’re offering guided painting activities in the Diebenkorn exhibition every weekday from 11-1 p.m. This activity allows parents to engage with their children in a creative environment.

Free admission

All of the things listed above can be yours – for free! Not only does DOMA have free admission, but many museums across the country do as well. For those museums that don’t, many have community days where admission is free. Take advantage of everything museums have to offer, with nothing to give up but a bit of your time!


Fredericks, Rachel. “Awe: In and Out of the Classroom.” David Owsley Museum of Art: Alliance Speaker Series, 14 February 2018, Ball State University Alumni Center, Muncie, Ind.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Written by: Emily Sabens, Public Relations Intern

If you’re still searching for a fun way to celebrate the holiday, take your loved one to the David Owsley Museum of Art to see these six works, all centered around passion and affection.

1. Vertumnus Wooing Pomona

file-1 (1).jpeg
Jean-Francois de Troy. Vertumnus Wooing Pomona, 1723. Oil on canvas. David Owsley Museum of Art. Lent by David T. Owsley, L1991.042.001

This painting by Jean-Francois de Troy showcases a tale from Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” – an ancient collection of myths that focuses on the theme of physical transformation. In this particular scene, the young god Vertumnus transforms into an old woman; this way, he can profess his love to the wood nymph Pomona. How romantic is that?

2. Bride’s Headpiece

Unidentified artist. Bride’s Headpiece, 1975. Plaited fiber, shells, feathers. David Owsley Museum of Art. Gift of Edmund and Virginia Ball, 1979.010.002

Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular days to get married, with over 27,000 couples tying the knot on Feb. 14 in the last two decades. If you are thinking of getting hitched, visit to see this bridal headpiece. It’s not your typical veil – actually, it’s way cooler. Created by an unknown artist from Papua New Guinea, this headpiece even has a small crocodile head attached on the end that is made with shells.

3. Madonna and Child

Giovanni Bellini and Studio. Madonna and Child, 1489-1490. Oil on panel. David Owsley Museum of Art. Gift of the Ball Brothers Foundation, 1995.035.119

Who says Valentine’s Day only has to celebrate romantic love? This painting, produced by Giovanni Bellini and Studio, shows the affection the Virgin Mary has for her child, Jesus.

4. King Henry V Courting Princess Catherine of Valois

Hendrik Leys. King Henry V Courting Princess Catherine of Valois, 1850-1860. Oil on canvas. David T. Owsley Collection. L2011.009.000

Set in 1420, this painting shows King Henry V and Catherine of Valois, the daughter of King Charles VI of France, engaging in conversation. During this time period, the two were in the courting phase of their relationship; they later married only a few weeks afterwards.

5. Small Pensive Woman

file-2 (1).jpeg
Wilhelm Lehmbruck. Small Pensive Woman, 1910-1911. Plaster with brown patina. David T. Owsley Collection. L2012.009.000

According to a study by Pew Research Center, 43 percent of Americans are not in a relationship and won’t be spending the holiday with a significant other. So, if you’re single this Valentine’s Day, take some time to focus on yourself. This work, titled “Small Pensive Woman,” was created by Wilhelm Lehmbruck. The woman’s pose implies reflection and melancholy; so, follow her lead and take time to remember how great you are (and, it’s okay, you can cry if you need to).

6. In Poppyland (Poppy Field)

file-3 (1).jpeg
John Ottis Adams. In Poppland (Poppy Field), 1901. Oil on canvas. David Owsley Museum of Art. Gift of the Ball Brothers Foundation, 1995.035.040

Americans spend around $2 billion on flowers every Valentine’s Day, according to the National Retail Foundation. But, if you can’t afford flowers this year, come to DOMA instead; you can see this beautiful painting by John Ottis Adams, which features a field of bright red poppies. Fun fact: Adams painted this work at The Hermitage, a romantic bed and breakfast located on the river in Brookville, Indiana. 


So, whether you’re spending the day with your significant other, a family member, a friend or even by yourself, a trip to DOMA is a perfect way to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year.