When students registered for professor Daniel Sherman’s First Year Seminar, they knew they would be designing a gallery, but they were unsure of how it would all come together.
After a semester of research and debate, they created a final layout and saw their project take shape in the Ackland Art Museum.
The exhibit “War on All Fronts” is on display until March 28 with an accompanying gallery guide created by the students.
VIEW THE EXHIBIT
Time: regular Ackland hours through March 28
Location: Ackland Art Museum
“We got to pick everything about it,” said Madi Stalzer, a freshman chemistry major in the course. “Everything was open-ended. He was always asking our opinions. It was really our exhibit.”
Sherman said he divided the class into four groups and had each student study two works. Within the group, the students ranked the pieces. After presenting to the class, the students as a whole made the final decisions.
“A lot of the original choices got eliminated, and some no one even acknowledged at first ended up being in the show,” said Kate St. John, a freshman classics and art history double major.
“It was quite cool because a lot of the pieces that made it into the show worked out because someone fought for a piece,” she said.
The Ackland staff created a scale model of the gallery, and the students used it to lay out their selections.
But once they were in the museum, some of the pieces changed places.
St. John said that when they were in the gallery, the students noticed some pieces spoke to other pieces and worked better with other pieces.
All of the works in the exhibit are from the Ackland’s collection or from Wilson Library’s Rare Book Collection.
Many art history classes rely primarily on slides of artworks, and students cannot see them in person.
“I did want the students to have the experience of looking at actual pieces of art as well as just slides,” Sherman said.
The exhibit includes works in different media including posters, lithographs and photographs. It is arranged in groups relating to the home front, the conflict, women and war, and war’s aftermath.
“It’s really one of the treasures of the Ackland collection, so it’s an opportunity to put it on view,” Sherman said.
Other works do not have the same ties to specific conflicts, such as a photograph by George Barnard, “Battleground of Resaca, Ga. No. 2.” The photograph shows a field including damaged trees and destroyed ground.
“When you look at it, it doesn’t really tell you. It doesn’t really say anything about war. If you look at the catalogue you’ll discover that Barnard was interested in nature and nature as an allegory for war,” Sherman said.
Though the class is officially over, the students still have their research on display through the exhibit guides.
“Picking up the exhibit guide and seeing that people are reading about it with our research is really rewarding,” said Sarah Osborne, a freshman international studies and political science major.
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