CALS dean to host presidential reception for “Vibrant Matter” exhibit


A large mural set up in the corner of the gallery room behind an installation of chandeliers. All works on loan from Julie Chang and Hosfelt Gallery.

Jack Mcclellan

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences dean will be hosting the opening reception for Julie Chang’s “Vibrant Matter” exhibition Wednesday at the Christian Petersen Art Museum. Despite unforeseen circumstances keeping Chang from attending the reception, Dean Daniel Robison and Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen will still be attending the event, publicly appreciating Chang’s fine art.

The reception will take place at 4:30 p.m. in the Christian Petersen Art Museum. The reception was originally intended to be followed by a lecture delivered by Chang on much of her previous work as a public and studio artist. Unfortunately, Chang, who currently resides in San Francisco, could not attend the event and her lecture has been rescheduled to take place virtually at noon on Feb. 17.

Chang’s exhibit, “Vibrant Matter,” first opened to the public on campus on Jan. 18. It is a collection from several of Chang’s series that explores the ideas of cultural identity and the importance individuals place on the seemingly insignificant.

“We worked with Julie and she selected a lot of works of art from about four different series, so over many years of work from her,” said Sydney Marshall, curator at University Museums. “So they’re all kind of in one exhibition, but they kind of show the progression of work overtime, including some of her most recent works of art.” 

In Christian Peterson, Chang’s works are spread across a large gallery room. One whole corner of the room is dominated by a mural consisting of layers of culturally significant symbols and images, melding with and obstructing one another to create one abrasive and cohesive design.

“They all kind of go along this idea of examining symbols in your own personal history, combined with cultural symbols and kind of playing with those and layering them and distorting them to create a new image or like a new pattern,” Marshall said.

Much of Chang’s works present ideas that apply to herself on a personal level but can also be interpreted to address parts of other people’s lives, especially in individuals who share similar backgrounds to her.

“Well, I think she definitely for a lot of the symbols she drew from her own personal upbringing and her growing up and living currently a California,” Marshall said. “So I think, especially if you have kind of a similar background to her, you may find symbols that are more that may connect to you more, but definitely there’s a lot of things that people even here in Iowa will recognize and can connect to.”