It’s a November morning. You grab your warm cup of coffee and walk up the Union stairs, ready to sink into the couches and study. As you pass the Memorial Union Gallery, you suddenly stop when you see paradise. Right here in Fargo, N.D.
In their latest exhibition “From the Vault,” the MU Gallery is resurrecting NDSU art archives. Seven collections, representing U.S. art from the region, nation and world, are once again being shown to the public.
Artists included in the exhibit include big names like Frank Stella, Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, Jasper Johns and even an Andy Warhol self portrait. However, many local and regional artists are also being featured in the exhibition.
“Many don’t realize what we have,” Anthony Faris, the Gallery curator and coordinator, said. “We tried to fit as much as we could onto the walls, filling them floor-to-ceiling.”
The collection first started in 1969 with Catherine Carter. At the time, Carter acted as an adviser and mentor to NDSU student government. She, and members of student government, allocated student funds to pay for the acquisition of contemporary artwork, something that continues today via the Memorial Union Gallery advisory board. With the help of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the MU Gallery has acquired hundreds of works in 47 years.
“It was really an instrumental curation,” Faris said. “There are these exciting, strong pieces from visionaries in contemporary art. It’s been an effort for 50 years to collect and celebrate art and local and regional talent.”
Unlike most modern gallery exhibitions, the artwork is being hung salon-style, meaning multiple art pieces will occupy the same space. As Faris explained, usually modern galleries are meant to create an opportunity to personally connect with individual pieces. A salon-style hanging provides a whole experience rather than solely connecting with one piece.
“It’s a full collection. The number of pieces caused us to choose the salon-style,” Faris said. “You can walk in and see everything, which is something you don’t necessarily get in our region.”
The works span a variety of mediums, all in contemporary art. While there are a lot of prints and paintings, works like Emmett Smith’s “Paradise” break up the overwhelming walls and brings the art to life.
“From the Vault” will be on display from Nov. 8 through Nov. 17 at the Memorial Union Gallery.