Campus Life: Taking a Walk on the Country Side

Caroline Fassett, Staff Writer

The Samek Art Museum, located on the third floor of the Elaine Langone Center, is presenting the exhibition “Country Living” from Sept. 30 to Dec. 7. The gallery is open to students and the public from noon to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays through Sundays.

Richard Rinehart, who has served as the director of the Museum and curator for three and half years, decides what artwork goes in the exhibition.

“I scour the world for the best art, the art that I think would provide a good art education, and that would [allow students to] make connections with the various disciplines and programs on campus,” Rinehart said.

Rinehart said that about half of the artwork on display is drawn from the University’s own museum collection; the other half is borrowed from contemporary artists.

Though the exhibition opened on Sept. 30, the opening event was held on Oct. 2.

“It was wonderful. It brought in people from campus, which we’re always happy about, but it also brought in more than the usual number of people from the town, who I think were a little bit curious about how their lifestyles were being translated into an academic setting,” Rinehart said.

A number of events have followed, including Art in Bars, in which the artwork of the museum was paired with beer, cider, and other spirits and comparisons between them were drawn. On Oct. 23, Rinehart hosted a discussion on his curatorial approach to the exhibition with Alison Goodrum, a scholar of rural fashion. Every Friday between noon and 5 p.m., students can come to the gallery and join a knitting circle consisting of experts and amateurs alike.

On Nov. 14, Mel Ziegler, an artist featured in the museum, will be conducting an art game followed by a talk in the gallery. Country Living Film Screenings, featuring the films “Summer Solstice” by Hollis Frampton and a selection of diary films by Robert Huot, will occur on Nov. 20.

Rinehart encourages those who visit the exhibition to ask themselves what country is.

“We certainly don’t want to limit the range of answers. We are using the hashtag ‘#whatiscountry?’ online to get people to chime in [and] to share their opinions,” Rinehart said.

Additionally, students and residents of the community are asked to bring in objects that they feel epitomize the country aesthetic. Objects ranging from a lamp to an old photograph to a jar of pickled beets have already been contributed and are currently on display.

“A lot of the students on campus are in the same boat that I’m in. They’re relatively new to the community. The ‘Country Living’ exhibition is my attempt to better understand the local culture,” Rinehart said.

That’s what Rinehart believes is a big part of what a university does. It tries to understand culture and come up with new ways of looking at culture.

Rinehart hopes that students will take the time to come by and experience the exhibition.

“It’s innovative and new, and it’s happening here. This is the kind of thing that students can see here, and nowhere else,” Rinehart said.

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