Art museum hosts three new exhibits through spring


Photo by Caroline Haubenstricker.

“Reflections: Visual Constructions of Race” was curated by 13 Miami University students with the help of MUAM’s Curator of Exhibitions, Jason Shaiman.

By Caroline Haubenstricker

The Miami University Art Museum (MUAM) reopened its doors to the Oxford community Tuesday Jan. 25 with three new exhibitions alongside their semi-permanent exhibitions.

MUAM held a virtual exhibition opening Wednesday Jan. 26 for an illustrated overview of their newly installed exhibitions and a preview of upcoming programs and activities. A recording of the event will be uploaded to MUAM’s YouTube.

The opening was held virtually because of the high number of COVID-19 cases in the area. 

This was the museum’s decision, rather than Miami University’s decision. John “Jack” Green, the director and chief curator of MUAM, does not anticipate that the museum will close because of COVID-19 this semester. Masks must be worn inside the museum. 

The newly installed exhibitions are “From the Ground Up;” “Reflections: Visual Constructions of Race;” and “Collections Highlights: Recent Acquisitions. “

“We want to really enrich the experience of the [Miami] students and also the faculty and staff and the community,” Green said. “I think the art is so important; it opens up doorways for people. We want to encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to come to the museum.” 

From the Ground Up exhibition features an in-depth analysis of the process of creating pottery and ceramics. Photo by Caroline Haubenstricker.

“From the Ground Up” is a pottery exhibition that examines how a ceramics artist constructed the object and the various methods used to tell the viewer about the evolution of pottery creation. 

The idea behind this exhibition originated more than 10 years ago by Jason Shaiman, MUAM curator of exhibitions. The exhibition with the assistance of curatorial interns and Miami students, Jillian Cofskey and Mary Visco, over the past few semesters.

Assistant Professor of Ceramics, Richard James, created models of ceramic pieces to enrich the experience for visitors. Photo by Caroline Haubenstricker.

There are interactive elements of this exhibition provided by Richard James, assistant professor of ceramics. James created ceramic pieces for visitors to touch, along with a video of the ceramic process.

“Reflections: Visual Constructions of Race” is an exhibition focused on artistic representations of identity within various cultures. This exhibition was organized by 13 Miami art and architecture history students in conjunction with the senior art and architecture history capstone seminar held by Pepper Stetler, associate professor and associate director of the humanities center, during the Fall 2021 semester, marking the 11th capstone exhibition at MUAM.

Stetler provided the students with the topic through readings and ideas that she finds important. She wanted the students to explore the topic of race as Miami has strengthened its focus on discussing race and social injustices. However, the students were responsible for selecting the works of art from the museum’s collection, figuring out how to organize the exhibit, researching the topic, and writing the signs and labels of all aspects of the exhibition.

“[The students] did an amazing job on a topic that is really challenging,” Stetler said. “Sometimes the representation of racial differences are stereotypical and deeply problematic. There is diversity and background in the representation.” 

MUAM will hold an opening reception for “Reflections: Visual Constructions of Race” 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Feb. 9 where the students will present their research, followed by a reception and presentation of the exhibition.  This opening reception is planned to happen in-person.

Every few years, MUAM showcases their new acquisitions and donations in an exhibition. Photo by Caroline Haubenstricker.

“Collections Highlights: Recent Acquisitions” is an exhibition that MUAM hosts every three or four years to showcase their new donations and acquisitions. This exhibit features pieces from MUAM’s collection of over 300 new acquisitions and donations between 2018 and 2020. Donations come from many individuals, including alumni and those with connections to Miami, Green said. 

The new exhibitions will enrich the community by providing diverse perspectives, inspiring viewers and raising awareness of social issues, Green said. 

MUAM is planning on offering virtual and in-person upcoming events this semester. The calendar can be found here. MUAM wants to offer as many in-person events as they can, Green said.

The museum is now open on Saturdays noon to 5 p.m. and the second Wednesday of each month open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The sculpture park is open year-round. The museum is located at 801 South Patterson Avenue. Admission to the museum is free.