Since 1993, the Johnson Museum has collaborated with Cornell’s Department of the History of Art to provide opportunities for interested undergraduates to gain direct museum experience by organizing an exhibition. This year, enticing the eye / exploring the frame explores how art is a simultaneous reflection of the artist and the viewer. Through this lens, the exhibition examines framing through abstraction, identity, and the medium itself in works from a wide range of periods and media in order to broaden understanding of the complex effect of framing on the viewer’s experience. The exhibition aims to convince the viewer that no aspect of a work of art is accidental. The focus of a photograph, the interaction between two lines on a canvas, each deep incision in a piece of marble—all demonstrate something unique, both about the work of art and the artist’s message.
The way subject and message are presented through a frame leads to a deeper understanding of the work itself. We look at a straightforward way of framing, through physical frames of architecture or the surroundings. We move to less tangible manipulations of the frame through abstraction and negative space. Some artists whose works have been chosen for enticing the eye / exploring the frame have structured their frame in a way that asks more of the viewer and does not always offer immediate gratification. The History of Art Majors’ Society urges visitors to be active viewers, constantly asking the question of how a piece of art is “framed”—both literally and within a larger context.
In addition to the exhibition, the Society has expanded its social media presence in efforts to engage with audiences on a new level. Through weekly blog posts and an active Instagram, we have engaged the larger Cornell community, as well as art lovers and museums internationally, in our curatorial explorations. This has also helped our team to see what we are doing through a different lens. We are hopeful that these activities will not only stir excitement for the show but also help interested viewers to understand our process and engage with enticing the eye / exploring the frame from start to finish. We hope to forge connections with visitors who will respond to a work with an intense feeling—when this happens, you have shared a connection with the artist in a unique and personal way. You’ve shared a mind-set. You’ve shared a frame.
This exhibition was curated by undergraduate members of Cornell’s History of Art Majors’ Society with oversight by Alana Ryder, Mellon Curatorial Coordinator for Academic Programs at the Johnson Museum, and funded in part by grants from the Student Assembly Finance Commission and the Cornell Council for the Arts, and a generous gift from Betsey and Alan Harris.
2013–14 History of Art Majors’ Society
Margaret Merrell, president
Chinelo Onyilofor, treasurer
Hannah Schockmel, secretary
Kathryn Solomon, vice president
Images from enticing the eye/exploring the frame (Click an image to open slideshow)
Emma Amos (American, born 1938), Stars and Stripes, 1992. Laser transfer photography, oil on paper. Gift of Sylvan Cole, Jr., Class of 1939, 2001.022.›
Leslie Brack (American, born 1967), Sunset, 2010. Oil on panel. The Mary Lou Harriott Collection of Ithaca Artists, 2011.022.›