A white sculpture sits on a white pedestal, in front of a green backdrop
"Untitled," by Jacob Burmood, is featured in the "Art in Motion" exhibition at the Springfield Art Museum. (Photo: Jeff Kessinger)

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The Springfield Art Museum will be busy this year, with a trio of guest-curated exhibitions and an MFA showcase. All four exhibitions are collaborations with Missouri State University staff and students.

The first of these exhibitions is “Art in Motion,” which debuts Saturday, Jan. 21. It’s the museum’s first new exhibit of 2023, and it features prints, sculptures, paintings and drawings. It was curated by Naysa Adams, Cam Mahnken, Anna Shackelford and Hannah Robinson, who are all students in Missouri State University’s Museum Studies program. They’re under the direction of Jodi McCoy, MSU’s director of exhibitions. 

“All of the works are based on this idea of how do you convey motion in a two-dimensional or three-dimensional object versus actually moving,” said Sarah Buhr, the museum’s curator of art. “So a lot of the pieces that the students picked are pieces that kind of mess with your eye, or paintings that have all kinds of graphic movement in them through line or through color. And, of course, we do have the light sculpture where as you move, the piece changes.”

Guests will see art they haven’t seen before

That light sculpture, “New Limit” by Ray Howlett, is perhaps the most fascinating piece in the exhibition. Light rays bounce around inside a glass pyramid, which lights up in vibrant colors. It’s made of glass, metal and rubber and was gifted to the museum by Lee and Darlene Smith.

“I’d never seen this sculpture turned on,” Buhr said. “I’d seen it in our vault, but I’d never seen it turned on, so I had no idea it was so incredible. In fact, I was terrified to turn it on because we’re always worried about conservation. My registrar and I were like, ‘What if it blows up? What if it doesn’t work?’ The students actually asked us, ‘Can we turn it on?’ So I got to see something new through this process because of their interest.”

Visitors to “Art in Motion” will most certainly see something new, too. The exhibition pulls from the museum’s permanent collection and Buhr said very few of them have been on display at the museum.

A glass pyramid sculpture with red, orange and green light rays on the inside
“New Limit,” by Ray Howlett, will be featured in the “Art in Motion” exhibition at the Springfield Art Museum. (Photo: Jeff Kessinger)

“This is a good chance to see new works that are part of Springfield’s collection and to see what our college-aged population thinks about art in Springfield,” she said.

Other collaborations with MSU

That college-aged population has also curated other exhibitions coming to the museum in 2023. “Blue on White,” July 22-Dec. 3, features 27 porcelain objects pulled from the museum’s permanent collection.

“This special exhibition is focused on Chinese blue-white porcelain and examines its complex history, including its connection to Persia, the use of important Chinese symbols in its decoration and its eventual cultural appropriation through imitative wares and exportation across Europe and North America,” a press release said.

“Material Worlds of Antiquity,” guest curated by MSU Egyptology students, opens in December and focuses on the material properties of ancient objects, from the casting of bronze to the use of ceramic and glass.

The Springfield Art Museum will also host the university’s MFA Showcase May 6-28. Patrons will see works by Master of Fine Arts candidates in the MFA Visual Studies program at MSU. This year’s exhibition features six thesis bodies of work by Dana Bridges, Rick Briggenhorst, Meidi Karampour, Teddy Osei, Shauna LeAnn Smith and Jean Paul Vivas.

Exhibitions will include public programs

“There’s also a slate of public programs that is to be announced,” said Joshua Best, the museum’s affairs officer for audience development. “The education staff is working with the students to refine those offerings.”

A series of gesture drawing workshops will be offered in connection to “Art in Motion,” held Wednesdays from 12:15-1 p.m. through May 24. They are free and open to the public and no experience is necessary. Guests can register for the workshop online.

“Art in Motion” also features a motion drawing element that guests can participate in for free and all exhibit text is in Spanish as well as English.

“That’s part of a new initiative we’re doing,” Best said. “Everything that launches in 2023 will have Spanish translations.”

The Springfield Art Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday at 1111 East Brookside Dr. Admission is free. For more information, call 417-837-5700 or visit their website.

Jeff Kessinger

Jeff Kessinger is the Reader Engagement Editor for the Springfield Daily Citizen, and the voice of its daily newsletter SGF A.M. He covered sports in southwest Missouri for the better part of 20 years, from young athletes to the pros. The Springfield native and Missouri State University alumnus is thrilled to be doing journalism in the Queen City, helping connect the community with important information. He and wife Jamie daily try to keep a tent on the circus that is a blended family of five kids and three cats. More by Jeff Kessinger