Museum’s Modernist exhibitions inspire student essay competition

AUBURN UNIVERSITY – The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University has featured three exhibitions of Modernist art during the 2012-13 academic year and recently held an essay competition for students based on the exhibitions. The four winning students will present their papers Tuesday, April 9, at 5 p.m. at the museum followed by a roundtable discussion, “Thinking about Modernism,” made up of the students and members of the Auburn University faculty. A reception will follow the discussion.

Students drew inspiration for their essays from “Art Interrupted: Advancing American Art and the Politics of Cultural Diplomacy”; “Modern Art in the Permanent Collection”; and “Bauhaus twenty-21: An Ongoing Legacy – Photographs by Gordon Watkinson.” They were challenged to respond to individual works of art, concepts of Modernism and the social and historical contexts of the period.

Winners of the essay competition are Brittany Carmack, a senior majoring in English literature; Shelby Hancock, a senior majoring in English; Marissa Passi, a sophomore pursuing a dual degree in history and art history; and Samuel Sturgis, a senior majoring in art.

Faculty panelists, from the College of Liberal Arts, are Kathryn Floyd, an assistant professor in the Department of Art; Chase Bringardner, an assistant professor in the Department of Theatre; Howard Goldstein, an associate professor in the Department of Music; and Sunny Stalter, an assistant professor in the Department of English.

Stalter said, “Although I’m an English professor, I have found the Modernist exhibitions at the museum to be an invaluable addition to my courses on literary modernism. This is a period when writers and visual artists were working through the same issues, and it’s great for my students to be able to see that connection.”

For the “Advancing American Art” exhibition, the museum helped reunite a once controversial art collection assembled in 1946 by the U.S. State Department and launched as a traveling exhibition to show the world America’s artistic coming of age. Works from “Advancing American Art” are part of the museum’s core collection.

“Bauhaus twenty-21” features photographs by Gordon Watkinson depicting examples of Bauhaus architecture. “Bauhaus” premiered in the United States at the Jule Collins Smith Museum after an international tour and is on display through May 4.

“The students’ papers resonate with each other in very interesting ways,” Floyd said. “I’m looking forward to discussing these excellent projects.”

The program is free and open to the public. Advance registration for tickets is encouraged, as auditorium seating is limited. Seats may be released on the evening of the program as space allows. Free tickets may be printed online at

(Contributed by Charlotte Hendrix.)

Charlotte Hendrix, Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art (334) 844-7075 (, or Mike Clardy, Office of Communications and Marketing, (334) 844-9999 (