Fort Hays State University (FHSU) faculty and graduate students paired together with Pitt State’s art department to bring forth a new art exhibit titled “Fortitude” featured in Porter Hall.
The exhibit is comprised of FHSU faculty work in the University Gallery and FHSU graduate student work in the Harry Krug Gallery.
“We worked on (the name ‘Fortitude’) for a while,” S. Portico Bowman, PSU art professor, said. “… I wanted to play something off Fort Hays and then, so I was just looking around at words that began with ‘fort’ and then fortitude is what all artists require in abundance beyond their talent because their lifestyle and their path requires consistent fortitude, and strength, and overcoming obstacles, and determination.”
Bowman’s museum internship class organized the “Fortitude” exhibit. Bowman defines herself as the gallery and internship coordinator, as she had a hand in arranging to receive the works from FHSU and overseeing the internship class. Though, she said a student influenced the idea for the exhibit.
“So the intent behind the exhibit, there’s a backstory,” Bowman said. “… So four years ago I was teaching a Research for Writing course for our art majors and one thing that I did in that course was to think about artists I knew and invite them in to Skype them in to talk to the class … So Linda Ganstrom from Fort Hays is someone I know really well … I invited her to Skype and there were the students and she talked for 20 minutes and on we went. So fast forward three years or four years to last year, in my exhibition design course part of their role last year was to design the exhibitions for this year … (a student) who was in that class three years ago remembered Linda and said ‘I want to have a show of Linda Ganstrom’s work,’ and it was so fascinating to me that she had tucked her away in her mind all those years and had never forgotten that day and what to me in some ways was a random 20 minutes. As a teacher you never know what’s going in and what’s sticking, you know. …”
From there, Bowman brought the idea up with Jamie Oliver, art department chair, and since Ganstrom had already brought an exhibit to PSU, Oliver suggested a faculty and grad student-based exhibit instead. Bowman said Ganstrom was “immediately on board” with the idea. Ganstrom was then in charge of gathering the works comprising the exhibit, from the FHSU faculty and 20 graduate students. She brought the work to Pitt State in August. Students now run the galleries and exhibit itself.
“… We are running the gallery this year through my doing a museum internship program, so I have five students and between how busy they all are and how busy I am … I feel like it’s been a sock drawer that’s been open all week and it’s messy because things are half up, and not lit, and put over in the corner, but that’s been good for me in terms of just my interpersonal growth just to be publicly unfinished and at the same time it’s so great for the students. They each gravitate to a specific area of expertise or interest …” Bowman said.
Chris Griffetts, senior in fine arts, was in part responsible for the “inside faculty” aspect of the exhibit, working with special design—such as where to arrange the works.
“I think it’s awesome that the Fort Hays faculty teamed up with their student body to put together an exhibition to send on the road,” Griffetts said. “There’s a ton of really great works and because they’re all diverse they also work really well together, but because they’re so diverse it was a challenge to organize them in a visually appealing way. I like it a lot. It was fun to organize the exhibit, it was fun to put it up, and I think we did a really good job presenting their works in a very well-mannered way.”
In the previous spring semester, Griffetts was in the art exhibition course, which supplied him with experience to use for this exhibit.
“… We really wanted to make the experience as seamless as possible, especially from the time that you walk in the door until you exited, you didn’t want to feel like somebody had a hand in it, you just wanted to be able to walk through it.” he said, “And so if people have that feeling … then I feel like it’s successful and somebody would learn a lot in regards of putting together a show. But visually, somebody who doesn’t care about exhibition design and is just here to view the works, I think it showcases each individual artist’s talent, and even though some works are put with other works, you can start to make connections between pieces and between what some artists can do and what others do, that you can really get a lot of meaning out of the show.”
Students who participated in putting together the gallery had the opportunity to learn new knowledge as well as hands-on application of running a gallery. This applied to Shawna Witherspoon, junior in art, who emphasizes in 3D studio, which 3D work comprised a majority of the exhibit.
“I definitely think it has helped in a lot of ways, not only just like as far as gallery standard learning, specifically gallery standards how to hang things, it definitely reiterates all the design principles that they teach in art with design,” Witherspoon said. “It’s been a fun experience, I think the class Portico had a lot to teach, which is fantastic—she has a lot of shows under her belt, and learning comes with that experience is definitely very beneficial.”
She expanded that exhibits of outside work brought to campus provide an outlet to further artistic inspiration and education.
“I think it’s a fantastic idea, not only for inspiration but for different colleges and professors have their different specialties and things that they do really well, and so I think bringing in art from other places not only gives some new inspiration as far as the work itself, but can also give you more ideas as far as how to incorporate this sort of thing or something, give you a new direction to go with our own artwork,” she said. “So I think it’s a great idea to bring in other stuff.”
Linda Ganstrom will visit Pitt State for a ceramics demonstration Oct. 18 from 4 to 5 p.m. with a lecture and reception following, which is open to all interested.
“I think for those who have been putting it together … people have no idea when they walk into an exhibit everything that went into making it look the way that it does,” Bowman said. “… So I think it’s like a drawing, you should never draw attention to how it was made, it should just exist as this beautiful object, so with an exhibit everything should be seamless and harmonious. So I think for a student it’s always really eye-opening to them what goes in to making an exhibit look the way it does. …”
Bowman said she appreciates Ganstrom’s gratitude for the opportunity to host FHSU’s work and all the hard work and “fortitude” that went into putting it together.
“… We’re just trying to speak to the strength and determination reflected in the lives of these artists who are in many ways against all odds pursing a life in the arts because they understand that it’s a foundation, it’s a pillar of who we are as a people and as a culture and it’s not an afterthought,” Bowman said. “So I really appreciate that and celebrate Fort Hays … We’re really grateful of their work.”
The exhibit will show from Sept. 15 through Dec. 1. University Gallery hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and the Harry Krug Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.