by Catie Anderson, curator of education
With each new exhibition or project the Woodson Art Museum embraces, we have the opportunity to engage new audiences in our community.
For the current Medieval to Metal exhibition, the Woodson’s community has expanded considerably thanks to local and regional support from partners, sponsors, and grant dollars that allow for increased marketing efforts.
No doubt the top-notch media coverage, enticing programs, and word-of-mouth endorsements for the exhibition of forty guitars is partly responsible for visitors’ enthusiasm; another factor is the subject matter itself.
Guitars = guitar enthusiasts.
Players, collectors, and fans have flocked to the Museum the past several weeks to celebrate the development and diversity of a beloved instrument.
Medieval to Metal’s Musical Thursday Performance Series kicked off with a bang thanks to artist-in-residence John Currier with a special appearance by guitar historian Michael Kudirka. Subsequent guest performers were met with eager audiences who enjoyed the impressive electric guitar skills of Bobby Messano and knowledgeable stories of regional folk music from duo Brian Miller and Randy Gosa. Guitar lovers are a distinct and dedicated audience that this exhibition has allowed the Woodson to tap into and welcome to the Museum – many for their first visit and surely not their last.
Collaborations at the Museum offer equally rich and diverse opportunities to engage community members we may not otherwise see. Take, for example, the Visualizing Our Community: Student Photography Exhibition project, which invited art students from local high schools to work with their classroom art teachers, professional photographers, and the Museum to create an exhibition of their work at the Museum. The project, which began in September, asked students to respond to the prompt “What makes Wausau a great place to live” in a photograph. The students learned from conceptual photographer Brooke Shaden how a single image can tell a story, exercising their creativity through a series of collaborative photo shoots with their peers, Shaden, and Dave Junion of Junion Photography in Wausau.
A visit to the Museum’s National Geographic photography exhibition allowed students to evaluate the iconic and evocative images on view and apply the principles discussed to their own independent work. In February, students uploaded images online and an anonymous digital gallery of their work was shared with the public, who voted for their favorite photographs in early March.
Fifteen images were selected by public vote for the exhibition, which opens tomorrow at the Museum.
Not all of the art students who participated were regular Museum visitors, but through this project we’ve given the next generation of area artists a red-carpet welcome to the Woodson and an invitation to explore mutually beneficial experiences that await at their local Art Museum.
Join us tomorrow evening for the opening of the Student Photography exhibition and enjoy another Musical Thursday performance, too, from folk guitarist Robert “One-Man” Johnson in the Sound Lab, 5:30 – 6:30 pm.
Whether you’re a frequent visitor or it’s been a while since you’ve stopped in, everyone can appreciate the fresh perspectives and diverse experiences available at the Woodson Art Museum.