The Gayle Karch Cook Center for Public Arts and Humanities, located in Maxwell Hall, will open Feb. 9 after a virtual opening reception Friday. It will serve as the center for Public Arts and Humanities on IU’s campus.
Renovations are near completion, and areas that are still being worked on should be finished in the next few weeks, Joseph Hiland, associate director of the IU Arts & Humanities Council, said.
Edward Comentale, associate vice provost for arts and humanities and director of the Arts and Humanities Council, said the council was able to begin renovations on Maxwell Hall after receiving a grant, a donation and an endowment. The council received a $500,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2019, and in 2020, Gayle Cook, an IU alumna and historical preservationist, provided additional funding.
“The goal was to restore the building to its original beauty, as well as make sure that it was technologically suitable for current day, arts and humanities programming,” Comentale said.
Renovations began in spring 2020 and are mostly complete. Public spaces for the galleries will be ready for guests in the next week, Hiland said.
The Cook Center will display two exhibits entitled “Photographic Occurrences” and “Ongoing Matter” in its gallery spaces, with an online reception on Friday and in-person viewing starting Feb. 9.
“Photographic Occurrences” focuses on experimental photography from the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture and Design, particularly from the photography department, Comentale said. The exhibit will feature works from more than 20 artists including former IU photography professor Henry Homles Smith.
Sarah Edmands Martin, who serves as an assistant professor of graphic design, said she was pleased about the timing of the opening of the Cook Center.
“Ongoing Matter” is an exhibition exploring the topics and content of the Mueller report, the findings of Robert Mueller’s investigation on Russian interference in the 2016 election, through graphic design to foster engagement and learning, according to the Ongoing Matter website.
“I think that there's a hunger, among students and faculty to reconnect as a community around topics that have been on our minds for multiple semesters,” Martin said.
Martin is a co-creator of the exhibit, along with Anne H. Berry, who teaches graphic design at Cleveland State University. Berry said she was inspired to reach out to fellow designers after reading the Mueller report because she was horrified with the report’s information on the ways Russian intelligence used social media and design to spread misinformation.
“These are the ways that design undermines faith in the electoral process and what is actually true,” Berry said.
“Ongoing Matter” was intended to make the Mueller report more easily understood and engaging, Berry said.
“Ongoing Matter” originally started as a pop-up show at IU in 2019 with print designs and posters before touring around the country. The exhibit currently includes 14 graphic designers from around the world and features posters and a digital art piece, according to the “Ongoing Matters” website.
It is a developing project seeking more contributions, Berry said.
The Cook Center Galleries will be open Tuesday through Friday starting Feb. 9. Those interested in contributing work and participating in “Ongoing Matter” can visit ongoing-matter.org