The State of Nature exhibit at the Grunwald Gallery of Art features artifacts and visual art pieces that showcase Indiana’s prehistoric past.
The exhibit features various different natural artifacts as well as pieces from more than 15 artists. According to the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design's webpage, the critical role of this exhibition is to have attendees gain an appreciation of the beauty and aesthetics of Indiana’s nature and biodiversity.
The Grunwald Gallery, located in the Fine Arts building, seeks to collaborate with artists, scientists and scholars to create exhibits exploring science and the humanities in a visually artistic context.
“This was something we have worked on for a couple of years,” said Betsy Stirratt, Grunwald’s founding director. “I am really passionate about nature because I think we take it for granted.”
One of the key pieces in the exhibit is the head of an American Mastodon that is estimated to have died 13,557 years ago.
“I love the Mastodon skull because that is amazing,” Stirratt said. “Some people just think ‘oh that’s not real,’ but it’s real. It’s a real one. It’s pretty amazing to even get that on loan.”
The Mastodon head, a donation from the Indiana State Museum, is from the skeletal remains of a 31-year-old adult female American Mastodon. This skeletal head was found in late 2002 in White County, Indiana.
Other artifacts acquired by the Gallery for the State of Nature exhibit include paper wasp nests that are from a subfamily of vespid wasps and a taxidermy showcase of gray wolves that are now locally extinct.
IU biology professor Rodger Hangarter was responsible for curating some of the pieces in the exhibit.
“After teaching for many years and doing lots of talks to public groups and so on it became painfully apparent that the general public has very little appreciation for life outside of humans,” Hangarter said. “It seems that with the decline of our environment and destruction of our planet that trying to get people to think a little more about the world around them and not just their own personal place in the world [the exhibit] would help in that quest to try to save humanity and try to save everything that I find very valuable.”
Hangarter said from both a scientific and artistic standpoint, the pieces were selected in the interest of catching people’s attention while still adding scientific elements to educate the viewers on nature.
Exhibits such as the State of Nature also add to the education of students. Dorothy Portin, an IU professor of comprehensive design and interior design, said her students draw inspiration for projects they are working on from the exhibit.
Portin said her students are currently working on a project that involves them making their own museum display.
“They are specifically looking at how the three-dimensional objects are displayed, so this exhibition brought together a lot of different types of work,”said Portin.
The gallery is open for drop-in from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.To visit on other days, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment. The State of Nature exhibit is available until Nov. 18.