Since its inception in 1977, the Hearst Art Gallery, the accredited art museum of Saint Mary’s College, has been building a collection of ethnic¹ art. Because of a number of major acquisitions during the last decade, the collection now numbers more than three-hundred objects. Beginning March 11, one hundred of the most remarkable pieces will be on view in "Touched By Wonder: Ethnographic Art from the Permanent Collection."
Gregory Ghent and Scott McCue are co-curators. Ghent has organized two past Saint Mary’s College exhibitions: Before Columbus, the Art of Ancient West Mexico in 1991 and African Alchemy: Art for Healing in African Societies in 1994. McCue's superbly crafted photographs will be included in a collection catalogue, to be published next year.
Generous donors have made "Touched by Wonder" possible with handsome gifts of museum quality ethnic art. The majority of the collection is African and Oceanic, including wood and bronze sculptures, masks, shields, ceremonial objects, furniture and jewelry, with a smaller selection of Near East Asian objects, including textiles and jewelry. The collection and the exhibition provide an entry point to a greater understanding of other cultures. To see something magical or strikingly artistic from another culture or another time, often inspires wonderment; in the case of students and school-age visitors, it may lead to a study of cultural anthropology and global art history.
Ghent and McCue will give a presentation on highlights of the ethnographic collection on Sunday, March 12, at 2 p.m., followed by an opening weekend reception. They will return to give several exhibition walkthroughs during March and April; a number of free staff and docent tours are also scheduled.
¹ in this context, the term "ethnic" refers to an interrelated group of people who have in the past, or to this day, sustained a unique language and other traditional art forms that do not originate from the larger religious social systems such as Judeo-Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, or Taoism.
Gergory Ghent and Scott McCue
Sunday, 2 to 3 p.m., March 12, Soda Activity Center
Reception following lecture, Art Room 105.