ReACT campus art exhibition to explore intergenerational relationships


Photo courtesy of University Museums

From left to right: “Sketch of Charlotte” by Christian Petersen, in the Christian Petersen Art Collection, “Self Portrait 1/9” by Brent Holland and “Woman Gathering Kelp” by Mary Pudlat, which are both in the permanent collection in the Brunnier Art Museum.

Cari Ann Rasmussen

“Connections and Intersections — People, Place and Time,” the second ReACT exhibition of the fall 2019 semester, aims to provide a conversational spark that will illuminate the topics of intergenerational relationships, family, aging and lifespan through a thoughtfully curated collection of visual art.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the U.S. is only one decade away from a transformative demographic shift. The 2017 National Population Projections declare that by 2030 the baby boomer generation will all be over the age of 65, meaning for the first time in U.S. history, the number of older people will exceed the number of children under 18. During this time, the population is predicted to age at a slower rate and diversify racially and ethnically. 

This projection for the future is just one of the reasons why this exhibition is valuable, because it provokes questions about what actions and perspectives correspond with aging among different populations, how we interact between generations, how that dynamic will change in the near future and how society is going to adapt to it.

Another influential aspect of the “Connections and Intersections” collection is its ability to act as both a mirror of ourselves and our relationships with people as well as a window into the social and familial makeup visible in history and other cultures or parts of the world.

“A lot of these images are of people and we also talk about the idea of self portrait versus a drawing of someone else and how we look at ourselves versus other subjects,” said ReACT exhibition organizer Lilah Anderson. “We have two ancestor portraits in here which are traditional Chinese paintings that are done of those who have passed away, and it’s the idea of spiritual living connection to one’s ancestors through an object, so, looking at how this visual material can really be such a pertinent reflection of self and connection to others.” 

The public is also invited to attend an opening reception for the exhibit from 4 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday. Guests may enjoy light refreshments and have the opportunity to hear from Jennifer Margrett, who is a faculty guest curator, professor in human development and family studies and director of the Iowa State gerontology program. 

“As always, the ReACT Exhibition Series provides a place for people to discuss an idea and use visual objects and works of art in order to have conversations — in a safe space for conversations,” Anderson said. “As a student, or any part of the ISU community, you have ownership over this collection and this space. This is something that we want to be used as a resource.”

The “Connections and Intersections — People, Place and Time” exhibition will be open from Monday to Nov. 22 in the Reiman Gallery (lower level) of the Christian Petersen Art Museum in Morrill Hall. Hours are noon to 4 p.m. weekdays and closed on weekends. Admission is free, however there is a $3 suggested donation per visitor.