Grinnell College: Art exhibit at the Faulconer Gallery addresses issues

The inside of the Faulconer Gallery on the campus of Grinnell College. Photo courtesy of Lesley Wright

The newest exhibit inside the Faulconer Gallery at Grinnell College represents four different cultures from India and has nearly 50 pieces of art.

The exhibit, “Many Visions, Many Versions: Art from Indigenous Communities in India” is a traveling exhibition across North America; Grinnell College and the Faulconer Gallery are the first stop.

Lesley Wright—Faulconer Gallery Director for 18 years—said the works represent four different traditions from India and is organized around four different themes.

The show is up until Dec. 10.

“Not only is it traditional work with traditional methodology and stories, but it’s using those traditions to address contemporary problems,” Wright explained. “Like HIV/AIDS, the environment, tsunamis, abortion and terrorism.”

Wright said Grinnell College currently has 46 students from India on campus.

“We are always looking for ways for our shows to intersect in a different kind of global context with our student body,” Wright said.

Faulkner Gallery
Swarna Chitrakar. Tsunami, 2005. Fabric paint on canvas. Photo courtesy of Sneha Ganguly.

Professors using art for their class

Wright said professors from the political science, religion, English and biology departments have brought students to the Faulconer Gallery to view the show.

“Kids in class who don’t normally talk, start talking because art opens things up in people that other ways of communicating may not open up,” Wright said. “And if you want the community to be fully engaged, having the arts gives them more ways of engaging with one another.”

She hopes that once the students are exposed to the gallery, they will return on their own.

“Some students are one and done and others will have such a good experience that they come back to a new show,” Wright said. “That’s what we hope happens.

“But building a cultural of museum visiting is a long, slow process but we are here for the long haul.”

Wright said previous exhibitions have been from Brazil, Portugal, Morocco, Iraq, various European countries, China, Japan and South Africa.

“We have a very global outlook at Grinnell,” she says. “We have a very strong local outlook and a very strong global outlook.”

Faulconer Gallery
The Faulconer Gallery in Grinnell is housing the” Many Visions, Many Versions: Art from Indigenous Communities in India” show until Dec. 10. Photo courtesy of Lesley Wright

Art on college campuses

The Faulconer Gallery is part of a larger network of art galleries on college campuses across Iowa. Whether its the University of Iowa, Iowa State University or Coe College, art is wide-spread in Iowa.

“Every campus has to find its own sweet spot within its population and faculty,” Wright says. “The arts on campuses has been a strong tradition in Iowa.”

Wright says the Faulconer Gallery does a lot of programming within the Grinnell community.

With this current show, each third grader in town is coming to the gallery along with specific populations of adults.

“We just try to be really good citizens in our community because we want people to see us as their museum, whether they are on or off campus,” Wright says.

The Faulconer Gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.