James Madison University, located in Harrisonburg, Virginia, is home to several art galleries. They include Sawhill Gallery, located in Duke Hall, a professional gallery showing rotating exhibitions that feature regional, national and international artists and strives to showcase contemporary art that demonstrates a multi-cultural and interdisciplinary dynamic. The ArtWorks Gallery, just across the street from Sawhill, is a loft space featuring high ceilings, hardwood floors, and large windows. It is a student-run space showcasing the work of undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Art. Exhibits change approximately every two weeks, with opening receptions hosted on the first Monday of each show. New Image Gallery, located in a room just off ArtWorks, features solely photography. Artists of regional, national and international acclaim exhibit their work at New Image. Just recently the Madison Art Collection received a large donation and the school has increased its budget and they are in the process of opening a new gallery space called Skyline Gallery that will open the fall of 2011. It will be located in the lower level of the Festival Conference and Student Center featuring rotating shows and exhibitions drawn from the Madison Art Collection. The School of Art and Art History sponsors both galleries. There is a small gallery in the Festival Student Center—PRISM Gallery is dedicated to showing work representing diversity, including issues of gender, race, religion and sexuality. It is a project of an academic program through the School of Art and Art History. They also employ two full time staff and eight student semester jobs and two internships making a total of 13 positions.
Picture by Katie M. Jenkins.
Our primary focus was the Madison Art Collection, a space that features work of both art historical and anthropological significance, also located at the Festival Student Center. The Madison Art Collection is home to 3,000 works of art spanning from the Neolithic period to the twentieth century. The gallery’s collection was donated to the university in 1965 by an Indonesian collector and formed into the Madison Art Collection in 2003. The gallery’s current exhibition, “Beyond Face Value: Understanding the Arts of West Africa,” features cultural objects from the tribes of West Africa on display in dioramas with mannequins in West African costume, masks and statues on the walls and floor, and precious objects such as jewelry beneath vitrines. There is ample literature to provide context for the objects and even a Study Center with additional literature. The Madison Art Collection is sponsored by the Office of Academic Affairs and the College of Visual and Performing Arts, and directed by Dr. Kathryn E. Stevens.
The Madison Art Collection declares its primary focus to be community education. The Madison Art Collection strives to host many educational programs for children kindergarten through twelfth grade. They aim to help better prepare them for their Virginia standardized tests, the Standards of Learning or SOLs. Each year the Madison Art Collection hosts about 4,000 students and 2,000 adults, including the university’s students and faculty. The Madison Art Collection’s director, Dr. Kathryn Stevens, aims to make the gallery relevant to all members of society. She believes the collection’s programs serve students of anthropology, religion, art education, and fine arts. Next semester the director will be working with a professor of theater at James Madison to explore virtual interactive exhibitions using platforms like Second Life.
Sawhill Gallery Prism Gallery
Rachel Jones & Berangér LeFranc
* We would like to extend a special thank you to Dr. Kathryn E. Stevens, the Director of the Madison Art Collection. for graciously giving her time to provide us with more information on the gallery.