BYU Art History Students Curate Real Exhibition for BYU MOA

 In MOA Features

Last spring, an upper-level Brigham Young University art history and curatorial studies course consisting of seven undergraduate and graduate students was tasked with spending a semester studying a series of old Jesuit engravings, master their symbolism and meaning and then propose their findings as an exhibition at the BYU Museum of Art.

Not your everyday class assignment.

Studying these intricate religious prints, students delved into the historical and theological world of 16th century Christianity, as well as a sophisticated web of artistic symbolism. They also gained experience as museum curators. Before the seminar was underway, Martha Peacock and Elliott Wise contacted BYU Museum of Art curator Ashlee Whitaker, wanting to collaborate by enabling students to study the prints first-hand and be taught by museum staff about the nuances of creating a museum-quality exhibition.

Whitaker said, “It was a very exciting proposal. We want the museum collection to afford students memorable learning experiences like this. It gave us a chance to feature this unique collection of prints, as well as showcase that these students were working on a project that goes beyond classroom lectures.” According to Whitaker, the prints were given to the museum in 2011 by a former BYU Professor and his wife, Wilifired and Carine DeCoo, with this very vision in mind.

“Meditate on the Lord,” which opens on Aug. 13 at the BYU Museum of Art, consists of seven prints in the series, each one selected by a different student from the art history seminar class. Over the course of the semester, each student was required to do extensive research and write a comprehensive explanation of their specific piece, after which they used their new expertise to write a concise museum exhibition label to accompany their piece.


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