Behind the Glass: How Mounts for the Objects at the UM Museum Are Created

mounts

Hello Dear Readers! My name is Travis Turner, and I am the Exhibitions Preparator at the UM Museum. One of the special parts of my job is making mounts for objects so that they can be displayed in a safe and eye-catching way. From Greek ceramics to folk art canes, objects come in all shapes, sizes, fragilities, and weights. After being selected for exhibition, each object must be evaluated for stability, and if they are tipsy or need to be secured, I help them out and make a mount!

Sometimes the biggest challenge to creating a support structure or brace is choosing the right material to be visually pleasing, while at the same time ensuring the object is secured and steady. They are often made out of plexiglass, brass, and wood, but if I’ve done my job well, you don’t see much of the mount, or even any of it at all!

Each mount is a piece of art in itself. It takes time to shape it to match its object, to make it look right, and to find a way to attach it to the viewing space safely. I often start with an AutoCAD drawing in order to design the mount and see where there might be elements to improve upon before spending any time in the workshop. Every mount is unique to the item it holds. It can take me many trips between the workshop and the preparation room to test the mounts on the objects before they are ready to be put on display. After the exhibition is over, and the objects are returned to their homes in Collections, their mounts will stay with them as permanent companions.

Even while the museum is closed during these strange times, I am working on mounts to provide future exhibitions with wonderful art and objects for you to see. Next time you are in the museum, try noticing the different ways we display objects. We look forward to having you back!

Directors’ Letter 5th & University / August, 2020

Photo of Robert Saarnio by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss CommunicationsWarmest of mid-summer greetings from your University Museum, and Faulkner’s Rowan Oak – with hope that this finds all of you safe and healthy in these times of care and concern for our extended stakeholder and Member community. As you will see in content within this Newsletter, the Museum staff remain very busy on many fronts, and have been back in office (though masked and socially-distanced) since July 1. Similarly, on the Rowan Oak front its preparations for re-opening are underway on multiple adapted fronts, including planning for cashless tour admissions, by the addition of a credit-card point of sale system.

Regarding our re-opening of both sites, we are currently planning to do so in phases, starting with the August 24th first week of Fall semester. We will first open to Faculty and Students of the University, initially by Appointment Only. As an academic museum we have a substantial degree of prioritization of service to our University’s curriculum—it’s faculty, students, and research scholars. We will participate within the University’s Keep Teaching and Keep Learning rubrics, to meet curriculum and research needs that are collections or exhibitions-based, to the greatest degree possible.

For the general public and our many acclaimed childrens’ educational programs, we are adopting a cautious and deliberative approach: as I write here on the last day of July, given the current notably-increasing Covid case counts and positive-test percentages statewide—both metrics burgeoning weekly—we are not yet establishing a Museum galleries re-opening date. Initially having considered opening immediately following Labor Day, we will adhere to original CDC national re-opening guidelines of awaiting 14 consecutive days of case declines, and 14 consecutive days of positive-test percentage declines. In this particular moment, while it is difficult to set aside museum professionals’ instinct for our exhibitions to be shared with in-person audiences, I do not want the Museum to be a causal factor for anyone to leave their house for a public indoors experience, regardless of the stringent and newly-posted room occupancy & capacity reductions.

To maximize public health and safety, we are interpreting galleries of museum visitors to be non-essential indoor gatherings for at least this interim critical period. We will monitor Mississippi and Lafayette County statistics very closely, and plan for Museum galleries re-openings when we see a safer community caseloads environment. Once this has occurred we will be ready to roll, as myriad adaptations to the Museum environment have already been undertaken in our Re-Opening work with the University’s Facilities Management and Health Service professionals.

This having been noted, we do not consider the Museum to be ‘closed’, as we continue to upload new online and virtual content and serve audiences remotely with a range of creative offerings that one can access on our website, social media platforms, and the Museum Education Blog. We also continue work on future Exhibitions Planning, on the Greek & Roman Antiquities Reinstallation project in the Mary Buie building, and on assessments for significant upgrades to the Museum’s security infrastructure. Every week we undertake communication with donors, prospects, and stakeholders in partnership with our Development Officer, Rob Jolly. An exceptionally handsome promotional brochure has been developed to celebrate the 10th Anniversary this Fall of the creation of the Hattie Mae Edmonds Fund for Southern Folk Art. New donor appeals and outreach, in conjunction with Fund creator Dr. Mike Edmonds, will be undertaken in that campaign.

In coming editions of 5th & University we will begin sharing news of new additions of artworks and artifacts to the Permanent Collection, having been received from multiple donors—as additionally we plan for a future major exhibition of gifts to the collection since we last featured such more than 5 years ago.

As always, we thank you for your support and understanding. All best wishes for well-being to every one of you.

 
Robert Saarnio's signature
Robert Saarnio 
Museum Director

 

 

Directors’ Letter 5th & University / July, 2020

Photo of Robert Saarnio by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss CommunicationsWarmest of greetings from your University of Mississippi Museum and our sister property William Faulkner’s Rowan Oak. Museum staff—and staff across the University campus-wide—have come back to on-campus work this first week of July and our team is in the building planning the many logistical steps to accommodate a safe and healthful early Fall re-opening. While we await University clearance to make the formal announcement, and as we monitor emerging public health circumstances, we have a tentative working plan that I will share with you here—knowing that our August issue of 5th & University, and our social media platforms, will convey the final official word.

We are striving to re-open the Museum in alignment with the start of the Fall semester, hence Tuesday, August 25—initially in the first two weeks to University faculty, students, and staff. And then with that experience having been reviewed and assessed, to open to the general public, members, and all stakeholders the day after return from Labor Day weekend—hence Tuesday September 8th. Please follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter—and of course our website, or by a call to the now-staffed front desk (662-915-7073)—to verify that these aspirational dates are holding.

While space does not permit an extended description here, I’d like to outline in a few bullet points some of the key parameters and protocols of adapted and altered approaches that will be hallmarks of the re-opened Museum:

  • Masks / face-coverings mandatory—aligned with University requirements for indoor spaces across the entire campus
  • Augmented frequency and range of interior cleaning, and building hygiene procedures
  • Hand sanitizing stations throughout the building
  • Regular daily disinfecting of high-touch surfaces such as door handles and knobs, bathroom sinks and surfaces, water fountains, countertops, and classrooms
  • Adapted gallery and public space occupancy capacities—following University guidelines to maximize social & physical distancing. An example our frequent visitors will visualize is our off-the-lobby Speakers Gallery which previously held up to as many as 80 seated individuals for a public lecture, now likely to be capped at c. 25 occupants
  • Rowan Oak tour experience adjustments—multiple in number, most notably in sharply reduced occupancy for at-a-time tour capacity, and first ever credit card-reading point of sale payment, to minimize cash & currency handling.

And of course considerable adaptation in how we will delay any return to robustly-attended indoor public events and openings. Our beautiful landscaped surroundings and front plaza space may certainly serve us in good stead in this regard, and creative, vibrant online programming will also be assessed and offered. In a nutshell, as regards public programs we will have to be cautious, conservative, experimental, and flexible as we commit to a paradigm of visitor experience whose hallmarks are safety, public health, fresh air, and social distance-maximizing.

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We also have joyous news to share this month, with word of the early-June arrival of Membership, Events, and Communications Coordinator Kate Wallace’s new son, Hayes! We want to collectively extend our warmest best wishes and heartfelt congratulations to Kate and her husband Matt and their family, for this exciting new addition to their household! Kate will return to her desk from her maternity leave in late-August.

As I draft these comments we are in mid-process of hiring two Recent Grad Interns to support initiatives on two fronts: the Antiquities reinstallation project in the Mary Buie Building, and collections processing of the now-acquired contents of Rowan Oak, as they formally enter accessioned status as property of Rowan Oak and the University. More word on our interns in the next issue—we are exceptionally happy to have donor-provided support for these two 12-month positions, being filled by 2020 University graduates who have worked brilliantly with our collections for over two years each.

In closing, let me extend a very sincere expression of hope and best wishes to everyone in the extended Museum community for your safety and health in this challenging time. We have missed you all so very much, and we look forward with great eagerness and anticipation to seeing you cross the threshold of our re-opened Museum and Rowan Oak front doors as the new semester commences.

As always, do not hesitate to reach out to any Museum staff member should you have any questions, our main reception desk # 915-7073 can connect you to all of us, and you may always reach me at rsaarnio@olemiss.edu and my mobile # 808-284-7380.

With gratitude for your enduring support, and the many thoughtful messages of encouragement and appreciation of our new online content that we have received. We are so thrilled to be back to work together as we plan the futures of the University of Mississippi Museum and Rowan Oak, in their continuing commitment to education, inspiration, and service to community.

Sincere Regards,

 
Robert Saarnio's signature
Robert Saarnio 
Museum Director

 

 

Directors’ Letter 5th & University / June, 2020

 

“The museum we closed will not be the museum we reopen.”

Photo of Robert Saarnio by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss CommunicationsThose words are being spoken in nearly every museum across the country as we collectively come to terms with the depth of devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The University of Mississippi Museum and William Faulkner’s historic home Rowan Oak are located in Oxford, Mississippi, removed from epicenters of the virus, but still deeply impacted. Like most museums, in upcoming months, we will have to make hard decisions to rethink and reformat elements of our work.

When faced with a tremendous, unprecedented challenge, such as the pandemic, it would be understandable to retreat inward, conserve resources, and focus on survival. Instead, the University Museum and Rowan Oak are looking outward to our campus and community, to continue our commitment to bring people together around art and cultural heritage, even if at a distance.

This kind of response started with a nimble, resilient, and talented team working from a foundation existing well before this crisis. In the days following our closure on March 17, we postponed the public Opening Reception of our Brian Dettmer exhibition, Hardcovers and Paperbacks, and shortly thereafter the University’s summer public programs closure caused us to cancel our children’s Summer Art Camps. Two lectures planned for our spring Brown Bag Series were put on hold; two Friends of the Museum / Outreach College travel partnerships to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Holly Springs annual pilgrimage were postponed; and Museum and Rowan Oak roles in the 47th annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference were also cancelled.

But simultaneously there was also a realization that our focus on connecting the community to art, antiquities, and literary heritage was not on pause, it was moving to alternate platforms. As you will observe in this current edition of our monthly newsletter, and also the May issue that preceded it, we are regularly adding new content to our website and our social media channels on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. This augmented online content is keeping us moving in a positive direction, and is creating a new way of thinking and operating that will remain as the pandemic recedes. Please follow us to appreciate and participate in these online learning, collections-celebrating, and art-at-home activity opportunities.

Universities nationwide may likely face their most perilous financial challenge in a lifetime, the depth of which is still unknown. As the crisis lingers, and due to the uncertainty of when we can host large gatherings again, our annual Harvest Supper fundraiser will be moved into 2021. Substantial earned income sources, such as football gameday parking and facility rentals, will initially be smaller in extent whenever they return. Several aspects of Museum and Rowan Oak daily functioning will likely have to be rethought and reshaped, as will the building environments themselves. The next few years are frankly going to be very complex, unlike anything we have faced as communities and institutions.

In response, we must become even more resilient, nimble, and community-aligned. We will look closer to home for content, continuing to mine our exceptional permanent collection for exhibitions, public programs, and inspiration. We will reopen by this Fall, and when we do, we will join our University community in pledging to all of you who visit and support us, and everyone working here, staff and students alike, an environment that dedicates itself to adherence to public health guidelines, building hygiene, and adapted best safety practices. We will sustain a focus on being warmly welcoming and inclusive of all.

Thank you as always for your continuing interest in the University Museum and Rowan Oak. Do watch our website and social media channels for the latest in news and content. Please do not hesitate to reach me at rsaarnio@olemiss.edu or 662-915-7202 at any time, for any purpose. I’d be delighted to hear from you.

Sincere Regards,

 
Robert Saarnio's signature
Robert Saarnio 
Museum Director

 

 

Dreams and Visions

Theora Alton Hamblett was born and raised in Paris, Mississippi, and lived the latter part of her 80-year life in Oxford. A schoolteacher by training, she had a lifelong interest in art, but didn’t begin painting until age 55. Hamblett passed away in 1977 after gaining fame throughout the nation as a self- taught artist who’s brightly colored paintings of children’s games and childhood memories had universal appeal.
Lesser known are Hamblett’s religious paintings inspired by the dreams and visions she experienced during her last 25 years. This third category of her work was considered by the artist to be her most important work, therefore she preferred to keep most of the paintings rather than exhibiting them for profit. When Hamblett bequeathed her collection to the University of Mississippi, she gave explicit instructions that her religious paintings be given priority over all her other works in terms of exhibition, conservation, and scholarly study.
Hamblett’s overarching concern for this work can be attributed to the spirituality of her youth, a permutation that Protestantism scholars have dubbed Popular Southern Evangelicalism. The belief that her psychic episodes were religious experiences was therefore partially conditioned by the prevalence of such views within her early churches, but also latter collectors of this category. Five years after she began painting, the Museum of Modern Art acquired one of her dream paintings and changed the title of her work from The Golden Gate to The Vision.
Theora Hamblett’s work remains influential in contemporary southern art. The University of Mississippi Museum is proud to be the stewards of the majority of her art.

A Conversation With Theora Hamblett

Hardcovers and Paperbacks

By Brian Dettmer
Americana 54 #1, by Brian Dettmer

Americana 54 (#1), 2013

 

MARCH 10–SEPTEMBER 5, 2020

► VIEW VIRTUAL GALLERY

Brian Dettmer’s exhibit Hardcovers and Paperbacks, both memorializes the written word and reincarnates it. With great reverence, he has transformed books into sculptural works providing them with a new voice that pays homage to their former lives. Exhibit is on view at both the University Museum and Rowan Oak.

William Faulkner's Rowan Oak logo

Exhibit Breathes New Life Into Old Books at UM Museum, Rowan Oak
Artist Brian Dettmer on view Mar. 10 – Sept. 5

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Museum and Rowan Oak present a new exhibition of artwork by New York-based artist and book sculptor Brian Dettmer. “Hardcovers and Paperbacks” will be on view Mar. 10 through Sept. 5, 2020 at both locations.

“Not only is this the first show ever of an internationally-acclaimed artist to be exhibited dually at both the Museum and at Rowan Oak, but Brian occupies a position in the art world of a unique technique and approach to sculpting of hard cover books, and the international acclaim that goes with being a pioneer and visionary,” said Robert Saarnio, director of the UM Museum.

Dettmer’s work is a response to the recent cultural shift in the way information is gathered and accessed. He values the book and uses it to explore issues of accessibility, permanence and truth. Dettmer uses preexisting books, usually retired reference books, to create sculptures and other forms of media, all without moving or relocating any pages in the book. He begins by sealing the edges of the book and then uses knives and tweezers to carefully carve around the images or words he finds interesting and wants to display. Dettmer describes his work as “both archival and anti-archival,” and that he resurrects the contents of books that would otherwise be thrown away.

“Information is the raw material of today. We have an overabundance of text and imagery constantly at our fingertips. In digital media, it is often as fleeting as it is abundant,” Dettmer said. “Reference books have become almost extinct in less than one generation and we are at a pivotal time in the way we record and distribute facts.”

His work is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Museum; The Art Institute of Chicago; The High Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Georgia, and the Yale University Art Gallery.

The University of Mississippi Museum is located at the corner of University Avenue and 5th Street. The galleries are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and admission is always free. Rowan Oak is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the house is $5 per person. The Rowan Oak grounds and Bailey Woods Trail are free and open to the public daily from dawn until dusk.

For more information about upcoming exhibits, events and the permanent collection, visit museum.olemiss.edu or 662-915-7073.

Southern Quilts

 

January 22–December 5, 2020

 

FEATURING

 

Sadie May Blackburn

Amanda Gordon

VT Price

Lutie Malone Vick

Pecolia Warner

Minnie Watson

Southern quilts are one of the purest forms of southern folk art. It is a craft handed down from generations, often done communally, that represents family, region, and the love and embodiment of its maker/s. Born from necessity, where resources are limited, it is a way to use scrap cloth. Although most quilters typically adhere to patterns, the competitive spirit of southern folk artists often sparked experimentation, spontaneity, and creative choices in color and print that manifested into individual artistic voices.

Most of these quilts were collected and gifted to the University Museum by Dr. William “Bill” Ferris, founder of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. A native Mississippian and folklorist Dr. William Ferris spent much of his time documenting Delta folk artists who would tell their stories while demonstrating their craft. His inevitable collection of their work would later also become the foundation of the Southern Folk Art Collection at the University of Mississippi Museum.

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Hardcovers and Paperbacks by Brian Dettmer

Information is the raw material of today. Ideas put in print have a tangible permanence; a strong history and stability for the future, yet we continue to replace the physical book with fleeting formats that are subject to questionable priorities of tech companies and a consistent flow of electricity to remain accessible. In my current work, I ask what erasure and loss could look like through the lens of printed matter. Reference books have become almost extinct in less than one generation and we are at a pivotal moment in the way we record and distribute information. Information is now constantly refreshing and recording over itself –often leaving only traces of fragmented facts and past proclamations. This malleability has been exploited and our agreed truths have been uprooted by intentional distortions, erasures, and manipulations. My work attempts to illustrate these issues and raise questions about the future of the book.

—BRIAN DETTMER

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Gallery at Rowan Oak.
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Gallery at Rowan Oak.

Hardcovers and Paperbacks by Brian Dettmer

Information is the raw material of today. Ideas put in print have a tangible permanence; a strong history and stability for the future, yet we continue to replace the physical book with fleeting formats that are subject to questionable priorities of tech companies and a consistent flow of electricity to remain accessible. In my current work, I ask what erasure and loss could look like through the lens of printed matter. Reference books have become almost extinct in less than one generation and we are at a pivotal moment in the way we record and distribute information. Information is now constantly refreshing and recording over itself –often leaving only traces of fragmented facts and past proclamations. This malleability has been exploited and our agreed truths have been uprooted by intentional distortions, erasures, and manipulations. My work attempts to illustrate these issues and raise questions about the future of the book.

—BRIAN DETTMER

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Gallery at Rowan Oak.
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Gallery at Rowan Oak.
Americana 54

Brief text here about Americana 54 works… I looked for something about these on Dettmer’s website but didn’t find anything.

Americana 54 (#1), 2013
Brian Dettmer (American b. 1974)
hardcover books, acrylic varnish
H. 39 ¼”; L. 42 ¼”; D. 2 ½”
on loan from artist
L2020.001.0009

Americana 54 (#2), 2013
Brian Dettmer (American b. 1974)
hardcover books, acrylic varnish
H. 45 ⅜”; L. 35 ½”; D. 2 ½”
on loan from artist
L2020.001.0010

Americana 54 (#3), 2013
Brian Dettmer (American b. 1974)
hardcover books, acrylic varnish
H. 33 ⅜”; L. 35 ⅛”; D. 2 ½”
on loan from artist
L2020.001.0011

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Time capsule

Brief text here about Timecapsule works…

1950s, 2017
Brian Dettmer (American b. 1974)
hardcover books, aluminum rod, archival adhesive
H. 15″; L. 10 ½”; D. 7 ¾”
on loan from artist
L2020.001.0014

1960s, 2017
Brian Dettmer (American b. 1974)
hardcover books, aluminum rod, archival adhesive
H. 13 ½”; L. 10 ½”; D. 8″
on loan from artist
L2020.001.0015

1970s, 2017
Brian Dettmer (American b.1974)
Hardcover books, aluminum rod, archival adhesive
H. 12”; L. 9 ½”; D. 7”
On loan from artist
L2020.001.0016

1980s, 2017
Brian Dettmer (American b.1974)
Hardcover books, aluminum rod, archival adhesive
H. 14 ½”; L. 9 ¾”; D. 6 ⅝”
On loan from artist
L2020.001.0017